Monday, June 26, 2006

Great Expectations

No, I'm not talking about the book we had to read in high school. I'm talking about expectations that are placed on us and how we deal with those expectations. If you think about it, our lives are full of them. The bank expects us to pay off our debt. My boss expects me to come to work, on time, each day. My kids expect me to take care of their basic needs and to give them some of my time. My husband expects...stuff, too. The church expects me to volunteer my time to a ministry. The people in the church expect me to dress and act appropriately when I am in the church. My family expects me to always live in Marion and be an active part in their lives. Friends expect me to interact with them and keep up relationships. I have my own expectations for me. God has expectations for me. The list goes on and on. Sometimes the pressure of all the expectations can become quite overwhelming, and I feel incompetent to handle them all. I do not like the feeling of not meeting someone's expectations, yet it is impossible to meet everyone's.

As a parent, it's a hard balance knowing how much expectation to have with my kids. Is it too high of an expectation to expect my three year old to stay with me in the store and not run out, thus making me chase after her with merchandise in my hand that I had not paid for and setting off the thief alarm (okay, that just happened today so it's fresh in my mind - I do expect her to be able to do that.) I have pretty high expectations of my six year old - at school, in sports, and at home. It's hard for me to know how hard to push and when to let up. I remember trying to live up to my parents' expectations for me growing up. I'm sure I succeeded more in school and sports because of those expectations, but was the pressure that went along with it worth it? Do I want to do the same to my kids? I really don't know the answer.

My role at work is changing some next year, and with my new responsibilities will come greater expectations. Adding even more pressure is the fact that a federal review team is coming in next year to do a thorough review of our program. Isn't it funny how self doubt can creep in and knock your confidence level down?

Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. My senior year, our girls golf team was short players, and they drafted me to play. I had picked up the game the summer before. Let me tell you, golf isn't a game you just pick up for a few months and then you have the hang of it. Talk about a humbling experience. I'll never forget that sense of letting the team down one match when we barely lost and I did not shoot a low number. But it was unrealistic for me to expect to do so. I think the same holds true as an adult. We expect ourselves to be able to accomplish so many things, and then we are run down and discouraged when we don't make the progress that we would like. Yet if we aren't achieving bigger and better things, rather it is professionally, socially, economically, or at home, we feel lazy, as if we aren't living up to our potential.

I just want to get to a place in my life where I am content - knowing that I am fully living God's will for my life, understanding that His expectations of me are really what I need to be focusing on. Do you think that is attainable?


Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

I think it is attainable, but I have not yet discovered how to do it. I can totally relate to this post, Deb. It makes me want to reevaluate what I do and why I do it...whether it is someone else's expectations or my own - is it valid?

I also would love to observe people and find those who seem to live without this kind of pressure. Then maybe I could sit down and talk to them about how they have learned to "let go" and live free from the expectation trap.

June 27, 2006 8:34 AM  
Blogger Stephen & Michelle said...

I think the real question is: are they truely other people's expectations, or expectations we put on ourselves because we THINK they are what other people expect of us?

I need to break free of these types of expectations (which constantly weigh me down because I don't feel I can measure up) and search out what God's expectations are.

Another question to pose: Am I expecting too much of those around me?

June 27, 2006 8:46 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Deb-Check out the book "Calm My Anxious Heart" I can't remember the author right now and I am at work so I can't go to the shelf and look. You can find it at though. It was a great help to me in that area. Although I still don't have it completely under control.

June 27, 2006 11:11 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Jenn - thanks for commenting. It's interesting - when you enter the "blog world," you never know who you will link up with. I checked out your blog and noticed you haven't posted in awhile. I've wondered at what point I will stop posting so often. I will keep checking it out to see if you have updated!

June 27, 2006 11:32 AM  
Blogger Kelley said...

I think I place way more expectations on myself than are really placed on me by other people. I "think" they exect certain things only to find after I've stressed out about it, that they never really expected it at all. Very frustrating. I do feel pressure to please everybody. Very thought provoking post. :)

June 27, 2006 11:58 AM  

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