Highway to the Danger Zone
Expectations can help or hurt.
Possessing them can be like walking through a minefield in a territory of personal desires. All is well until.... "click, boom!" Expectations are often the highway to the danger zone. (Are you singing now, Top Gun fans?)
It isn't all hazardous and explosions, though! Expectations can also be helpful in growing us if they placed in the frame God has provided.
The Lord used the past year to reveal my true expectations (of Him and others) and to examine some of the deepest longings of my heart. It required a response and a willingness to let God work on and change me.
Here are some takeaways from last year and truths I'm carrying into 2023:
1. Expectations reveal what we truly value and worship. There are only two ways to live - for God or self. When we have expectations of what we think we deserve or what we want from others, it is often the result of placing ourselves on a throne that only belongs to the Lord. When we live in light of who God is and who we are, it adjusts expectations. It weeds out entitlement and allows us to better walk in faith. It changes the way we treat others because.... it's not about us! 2. Experience is a good teacher, but it's not the guaranteed conclusion for the future. We've all heard the phrase "have realistic expectations," and there is wisdom in putting it to practice. We live with an awareness of God as King and with a willingness to submit to His way and plan.
In regards to others, we should continually hoping for the best. It's helpful to always keep in mind the sin nature we all share and the grace received. We exercise understanding by using discernment gained from experience. When behavior becomes a pattern, there is the advantage of predictability.
We learn to adjust expectations accordingly in an effort to have self-control in our feelings. Someone once told me, "Anger is the result of unmet expectations." The same could be said of emotions such as disappointment, sadness, and frustration. If experience has revealed a pattern of selfishness in another, we are better off not to expect sudden selflessness. That doesn't mean we don't pray or hope to see God transform.
Having realistic expectations, where God is first and His way is desired, results in positive emotions like contentedness, gratefulness, and trust no matter the circumstances or experiences.
3.We can accept a current state-of-being, and still hold onto hope for change only God can bring. God is always at work. He is at work in and around us even when our eyes can't see. If we are following Him, we are daily dying to self and picking up our cross. We are learning to trust Him and His timing even when it doesn't make sense and hurts. We are learning to let God fight our battles, heal our wounds, and be the Righteous Judge. We learn to interact and pray differently for our loved ones and enemies. We learn to worship in seasons of plenty and seasons of grief. Through it all, we have the promise of who He is and the hope that it will ALL be used for His glory and our good. There's no way to know what this year will hold, but I don't want to ride the highway to the danger zone. Instead, my hopeful expectation is that, as long as He is Lord of my life, the year will be one that gives a deeper love for Christ and makes me more like Him so that He will be glorified through me.
I pray the same for you.