How to Live with Unmet Expectations

I never yell. I was yelling. I hated to cry. I was sobbing. I felt so hurt and angry. I felt trapped by circumstances. I wanted my mom to step in with some incredibly supportive sentiments and instead she had some concerns to share. I felt so alone. It wasn't my mom or I's best moment. My first year at college coupled with constantly working plus dealing with an awkward guy relationship were taking its toll. Two years earlier though, I probably would have given a lot to be in that tense moment.

I walked around the corner and I knew. I knew that when the nurse looked up at me one shake of his head would be the answer to whether my whole world had just changed in one moment. "She's dead," I thought. In a matter of seconds, the long-term illness my mother was diagnosed with eight years earlier had rendered her deaf and blind. Did it have to take her life too? He looked up and started talking about her pulse. "She's not dead," I realized. Relief hit me but not a satisfying relief. It was more like the crack of a whip that told you the race was still going - the long days filled with worry were still stretching out in front of you. Her vision and hearing came back but it would be months before my mother came back.

Perspective and expectations can wage an ugly war. I've never forgotten the years before we found a new doctor. The years where my mother almost died six times before my eighteenth birthday. Despite living with an usual awareness of the nearness of death, I still had expectations. When she began to recover, I was growing up and moving on. I had expectations of the advice she would (and wouldn't) give. Sometimes expectations need to be tamed by perspective.

Every expectation feels reasonable to the person who has it. Lots of expectations are legitimate. Not all expectations are realistic. How do we live in a world of unmet expectations? Grace.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? 
Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 
You desire but do not have." 
James 4:1-2

Grace is the perspective that tames the war of expectations. Humility is the perspective that quiets the battle of expectations. I don't know what your unmet expectations are. Maybe your father left you feeling perpetually "not quite good enough". Maybe your friends where never really "that into you" like you had hoped. Maybe that guy just "won't commit" despite what you know you deserve. I've been there. I still like to hangout there more often than I'd like to admit. Can we join hands on a journey though, to dropping expectations in an effort to live free? Free from the war of our own desires. Free to love unconditionally. Free to let others be themselves without it dictating who we are.

My mother and I aren't perfect. Our relationship isn't perfect. It's better though. Better because I said I was sorry and she was far more understanding about everything than I originally gave her credit for. It's better because we've adjusted our expectations. It will continue to get better because despite the perspective I've always had that life is short, I am now learning that the most influential perspective is a grace filled one.

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