One morning, the exercise instructor gave us an unusually difficult workout. She then told us she’d be away for the next three weeks and wanted to make sure we got the most out of this class.
One woman close to me said, “Your goals are not necessarily my goals.” In other words, this particular trainer might be taking three weeks off but the majority of us would carry on exercising with another instructor while she was gone. We didn’t need to work harder because she was taking time off.
Later that day, the words, “Your goals are not necessarily my goals” kept coming back to mind.
I thought of all the times I’ve felt the need to be and do the same as someone else. It wasn’t necessarily what I wanted, but what I felt I had to do to fit in. I wasn’t being true to me.
Just as bad are the times I’ve expected others to keep pace with me and become frustrated when that didn’t happen. They might not have even known or cared what my hopes for them were.
We don’t all have the same aspirations and it is unfair to make those types of comparisons. When we know ourselves well enough to follow our own path, comparisons won’t become stumbling blocks. We are each responsible for our own experience. And that is how it should be.
“If pulled in one direction, the world would keel over.” – Yiddish Proverb
We were Christmas shopping and I had a definite plan of what I wanted for someone, where I’d find it and how much it would cost. Although my ever patient husband suggested we look in other stores, I refused. I was so sure of myself that the other shopping was done first and this item left to the end.
I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this. When I came to the designated store, they didn’t have what I was looking for. I was frustrated and knew I’d have to start all over again. This meant going back to stores I’d passed by earlier. My expectations had caused unnecessary stress.
When I finally entered one store with an open mind, the number of options surprised me. My only difficulty was narrowing down the choices.
I’d like to tell you that this is the only time expectations have caused me trouble, but that wouldn’t be the truth. In all areas of my life when I set expectations on how something has to be done or how it needs to turn out, I’m facing the risk of disappointment. This is not to say that I should never have a plan, only that I need to remain flexible and open to other options. Sometimes the best solution is something I would never have thought of.
“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.” Michael J. Fox
A situation I was in fell far short of my expectations. Going into it, I wasn’t consciously aware of the expectations I held. That’s how sneaky they can be!
Not only did I come away upset, there was also resentment towards the person that I felt was responsible for my disappointment. I’m ashamed to say that it took me several days of nursing my wounded feelings before I fully realized my part in this.
It’s impossible for another person to know my expectations. How can they when I am not fully aware of them? Even if I am able to vocalize what I expect, I’m sure there is more that I just assume. Variables and the unexpected come into play, throwing off even the best laid plans. The only thing I can be certain of is my inability to control the final outcome.
My life works much better when I put my complete faith and trust in Jesus. I have found that the fewer expectations I have, the more he is able to work. In essence I believe this is because I stop resisting the changes to my plans.
The only expectation that works for me is to know Jesus is able to handle anything that comes my way and to use it for his greater purpose.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ( Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
It seemed like a strange thought as I walked along the beach. I’d had it for several days so finally acted on it. Finding a small stick, I picked it up, drew a line in the sand, and then stepped over it!
The only thing that changed was that I was now on the other side of the line. There was no guilt, no unmet expectations and no enlightenment. For years I have heard the phrases line in the sand and don’t cross the line. I’m sure they were said to keep me safe or out of trouble.
The problem was they also held me back. Many years ago I identified with a line in a song that said, “Somebody draw the line so I can blow right past.” This didn’t mean that I wanted to do anything illegal or immoral. I just longed to break out of the self-confining box I had placed myself in.
Living up to the expectations of others, whether real or imagined, is what had destroyed my freedom. True freedom comes from choosing to follow Jesus. He wants to give me a rich and satisfying life. The only way that can be accomplished is to forget about my line in the sand and cross over into the adventure with him.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.( John 10:10 NLT)