It has been a HOT summer in Seattle thus far and this pregnant mama is not cooling down easily. Add to that 3 wilting little boys and a husband away at YL camp all week, and you’ve got a recipe for serious melt downs.

Or so I thought.

On the contrary, it has been a surprisingly great week. We have had lovely distractions… VBS each morning, gracious hosts with AC and trampolines, a gourmet picnic in the park with family, play dates and even a splurge on a movie! {Inside Out – So good!}. My expectations were low; the reality of life exceeded what potentially could have been disastrous week and we are all in good spirits and excited for Marshall to arrive home later today!

And as I reflected tonight, I began thinking about expectations.  I have often said that between our expectations and reality there exists a chasm filled with resentment…  I don’t know if I made it up or morphed or borrowed someone else’s idea, so I can’t give credit where it’s due, but the illustration in my head looks something like this:

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The greater the distance {and the more tightly we hold to our expectations} the more intensely/deeply/inevitably we feel resentment and disappointment, anger and frustration. And those things can be “acted out” in many different ways – in stonewalling, in blaming {God, friends, spouse, kids}, in shutting down or lashing out.

With that, I have been researching this whole four-children thing, as I feel generally overwhelmed with life and would like to know what I am in for!  I was directed to an article where research shows that the greatest stress level belongs to those parents raising 3 children. {Hello!} And yet, the stress level dissipates significantly for those with four. {No way! And yes, please.}  In no way is adding a person to a family easy, so it could not be that there is some magic dynamic where kids fight less and obey more when you add another little independent spirit with free will! It seems from the research, rather, that the culprit of stress is expectations. Thus, with 3 kiddos, there is still this thought/illusion that you have some semblance of control, that you can keep it all together or at least should. Evidently with 4, that goes right out the window. Crazy-town. No illusions. It is just chaos. Pure and simple. Expectations change.

So, our stress level is not so much tied to our circumstances, but our expectations. 

Is this not what Jesus talks about throughout scripture? Does he not offer the most significant perspective shifts over and over? For example, He invites us repeatedly to “not fear”, not because there is nothing to fear {THE THREAT STILL EXISTS} but because He is with us. His presence ensures protection from a very real threat. 

“Battleship”, posted a few months ago, deals with this very thing. When our expectations of life are aligned with what God describes life to be {a fight, onslaughts of a persistent enemy, imperative camaraderie, ultimate victory} then we don’t get our nose out of joint when life is not providing the comfort and ease we thought it was supposed to pay out when we checked the “good person” boxes and showed up at bible study.

Reality vs. Expectations

The days I expect my boys to be defiant, attempt arson, spew potty words, use their limbs as various weapons, I am surprisingly more gracious, more patient, more consistent with discipline, less harsh and frazzled. However, when I expect them to act like adults {aka repress real feelings of frustration for the sake of behavioral acceptance} I am shocked; I lose my temper regularly; I shout things like “how many times do I have to tell you…!” and feel generally like a failure. I cannot expect them to be who they are not {yet} at 7, 5, and 2!

It is not that I do not have great hope for my boys, or that I do not witness in them nuggets of wonderfulness… and praise them when I see those parts of them emerge! It is just that they {and I!} are little sinners. That’s the reality. We are going to fail and act out and go our own way.  God doesn’t ignore that. Jesus died on the cross for the reality that we are sinners in need of a savior, and then gave us a way out. He met us where we were at and built a bridge to freedom.

He actually expects failure and offers relationship, not wrath. And in doing so, He gives us hope. His kindness brings us to repentance. And repentance is simply an about-face. A change in perspective. A new vantage point. A new reality.

So where do you see resentment in your life? Where is there lingering disappointment or anger?

I wonder if it finds itself rooted in an expectation formed somewhere along the line that does not align with reality. What would it take to embrace the reality and let that expectation die? And perhaps in its place ask for God to give you hope instead? A hope that the reality might find redemption, that your heart might find healing, that His peace might supersede your circumstances?

That is the challenge He has placed before me this week… I am excited to see Him at work.

2 thoughts on “Expectations

  1. Love your challenge and the weaving of your words, Emily. They always draw me closer to Jesus and to see things in myself. May your day be filled with wonder, cool breezes and lots of hugs for your little ones and that big guy just getting home from camp!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Emily… expectations are something I seem regularly to struggle with, and (sadly) my dear husband is the recipient more often than not of my frustration/anger/bitterness…. Naming the culprit inspires me to listen more intently to God’s word to fear nothing! I’ll try harder!!


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