As I am moving into some new seasons in my life, I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations recently. Considering how with each new change life brings, we bring our own expectations to the table. This doesn’t only apply to big changes, though, it also is relevant in our day-to-day.
Each morning we wake up with expectation of what the day might bring. Perhaps on Monday, this means waking up with a certain expectation of how stressful this whole week will be, or on Saturday expecting to get the most fun out of our weeks in one day. We make plans and we expect them to work out. We declare our days to go a certain way, so when things go differently than expected, we might have a hard time adjusting.
We never know what the day will bring. I’ve learned that when I have too many expectations, more often than not I am setting myself up for a day of disappointment. Or, at the very least, I have a really bad case of confirmation bias (all you psychology majors know what I’m talking about here), and if I believe this day is going to be good, bad, ugly, or anywhere in between, then that is how it is going to be. Something happens and I immediately confirm, “Yup, there it is, today is officially going to be bad.”
I’ve learned that when I have too many expectations, more often than not I am setting myself up for a day of disappointment.
So, in considering how we might move past these expectations, I believe the first step is to identify them. What expectations are you subconsciously bringing to the table each day or each week? I love what author Emily P. Freeman says in her book The Next Right Thing about expectations:
No matter what your life stage or your circumstance, when things begin to change, it’s important to be where you are and remain vigilant about the expectations you might be carrying around.
Consider the weight of your expectations you are putting on yourself or others. For example, if you expect everyone to like you today, I can nearly guarantee that you will be disappointed to know that they won’t. Or perhaps you expect your day to be stressful at work, when in reality, you laughed harder than you have in weeks and your day felt lighter than usual because of a good friend.
Let yourself be open to the possibilities of what this day might bring.
Maybe you make a list of your expectations to see on paper how silly some of them might be. As we write them down, we might also notice how limiting these expectations are.
For me, as I’ve walked through the disappointment that too many expectations I put on myself brought me, I’ve decided I need a prayer to help set me straight. I need to declare that I’m not in control and I trust the One who is. I’m sharing it with you today because maybe these words will help you find your own. Maybe they will help you talk to God in a way you haven’t in a while. And maybe you will begin to release your grip on your own expectations.
Hey God, first things first, thank you for giving me another day. I pray I don’t take a single sip of breath for granted. I do not know what this day will bring, but I do know that you are with me. It doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do today, or even how I feel, I know you are with me in all things, watching over me, giving me what I need. I know that today, I am enough, and that where I’m at is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I will trust that who is in my life is here with purpose and I recognize the opportunity I have to love them well today. God, give me the strength and patience I need to shatter my expectations and trust you with it all. Your plans are way better than mine anyway. I love you. Amen.