Monday, December 20, 2010

Lowering Expectations

I find expectations to be extremely tricky things. We all have them. They seem to be hardwired into us. We experience expectations in varying degrees, based on the relationship we have with each person, and what we believe we are entitled to. Movies, fiction and even observing the dynamics of other people's relationships all contribute to the kinds of expectations we have on those around us.

I understand in my mind that people can only give what they can give. We are all limited by our brokenness and fear. I should give up expecting more from people who simply aren't able to give it. I should take what they are willing to give, and make up the shortfall in other, healthier relationships.

It's easy to grasp this in our minds, but in our hearts and emotions, where we bleed and ache, it becomes much harder. We feel the hurt keenly, and don't want to volunteer for more of it, but where we intersect with those who let us down we must find ways to accept what they can give, and not hope to get water from a stone.

I have no idea how to do this. I hate lowering my expectations to the basement level so that I won't be disappointed, because I feel like it lets the other person off scot-free. Part of these feelings may be a sense of revenge, and I don't want to live like that. Life is too short, with the possibility of too many wonderful things, to hold on to that kind of anger and resentment. I would rather forgive, but sometimes it's easier said than done.

I think we have to forgive on a daily basis. We don't do it once and find that the hurt goes away. We have to make the choice again and again, to forgive where our needs are not being met, and to turn to another source for the approval and love we are looking for. It also helps to remember where I have hurt others and let them down, as that happens often. We are all limited by our own pain and suffering, and can't give what we don't have to offer.

Around the holidays, emotions tend to run high. We all expect more than we might ever receive, and finding ways to dial it down, and exert control over areas that are within our grasp might be a solution to this problem. I cannot worry about what is not under my direct control, and instead of stewing about what I'm not receiving from people, I can create a plan to make up the shortfall in other relationships, and remember that God loves perfectly in a way that no human can replicate.

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