I bumped into this picture the other day…truthfully, now in hind sight, I can't remember where or how. Probably a good thing because I would try to ignore it more intentionally if I did remember where I found it. I've been trying to delete it off my desktop without thinking more about it or commenting on it…but it sticks around. Again, I don't know why. I control the desktop. I can delete at will. But there is something that gnaws at me everytime I look at it. Maybe that's why it is still hanging around.
Expectations are powerful things in our lives. They "set us up" emotionally for a plethora of divergent feelings and reactions. When I expect something to happen or someone to behave/feel/respond in a certain way I set myself up for anger, betrayal or disillusionment. Why? Because many times our expectations are fantasies. They are fantasies because our expectations (when unrealistic) can NEVER be fully met. Our expectations are driven by self-centeredness and a desire to control a person, outcome, etc. That's why, when I was working my way through years of counseling (yep, that's happened, no surprise huh?) I kept being drawn back to facing REALITY and accepting it. Reality is a wake up call…it brings us back to the facts not the dreams…it forces us to face truths that we wish would disappear…it gives us a snapshot of the way things are not the way we hope or pray they should be (for our benefit). In reality, expectations create in us a desire to "caricature" life…in other words, without a dose of reality all we do is live a caricature of real life. We relate to, work in, and feel in the midst of fantasy.
I have to stare down expectations every day. True story – I "victimize" myself at the hands of unrealistic expectations all the time. When I drive down to the building that houses our faith community every day, I have to own the expectations that I have of where God SHOULD have taken us after two years of life. Of course, you can see that problem by simply looking at the words themselves…you never can SHOULD on God. He operates differently and He doesn't cowtow to our expectations. I open my eyes on a daily basis and expect to see a certain type of weather…of course, that type of weather is NOT a reality in our home state and town. So, sometimes I walk around a bit angry that the weather isn't living up to my expectations…see what I mean? I fall victim all the time to expectations as a way of avoiding reality.
So, you want a "real" health step to happen in your life? Look at that picture again…the diagram is true. Let's accept reality…have hopes and dreams but NOT unrealistic expectations. I read a book years ago, Rapid Relief for Emotional Distress. When I saw it at Barnes and Noble I thought, "how trite." But then I scanned the opening chapter and was immediately hit with a truth that changed my life – Accept reality! That's true on so many levels in your life and mine. Accepting reality gives us an opportunity to THEN create a vision of how our life can grow in the midst of reality giving us a focus for personal action. Otherwise, expectations only lead to being paralyzed in fear, bitterness, and defeatism ("this just isn't fair). So think on that today…or, maybe not! I have NO expectations.