As a child, when my birthday was approaching, I was often focused on what gifts I might receive. I remember my father telling me two things: (1) That they were going to cancel my birthday that year 😉 and (2) That I should not expect anything. My birthday was never cancelled and I always received presents. But my father was right about having no expectations. However, I don’t believe this just pertains to gifts or birthdays. I believe this is good advice every day of our lives.
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Ann Voskamp: What messes our life up most is this expectation of what our life is supposed to look like. This is so very true, in big things and in small things.
Imagine someone who wanted to get a college degree, but life took them down a different path and they never accomplished their goal. They expected to get a degree, but they didn’t. Or maybe someone divorced and their “happily ever after” was shattered. They expected to be married for life, but this didn’t happen. These are examples of big expectations in life that didn’t come to pass. And too often we allow things like these to bring us down. We might think thoughts like: If only this had happened, I would be happy. If only this hadn’t happened to me, my life would be different.
But then there are small daily events where expectations come into play as well. Suppose someone spills coffee on their clothes and then they allow the mishap to dampen their mood for the day. They did not expect to stain their clothing, but expected their day to go perfectly. Or let’s suppose someone is walking into a store and the stranger in front of them lets the door drop in their face, which makes them angry. They did not expect someone to be rude to them. These are subconscious expectations that we have on how things should have went. Then when they don’t go the way we expected, we allow them to unsettle us.
How can we let go of these expectations that bring us down? Start by recognizing them. Some of these things might trigger a change in our mood, without us even realizing it. So go about your day and pay attention to the expectations that surface.
Second, always remember one important thing. No matter how things went in your life, God is still in control. He can and will work things for good. This helps us to move on when our expectations are crushed. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28 NLT).
Third, make a decision. When something did not go the way you expected, you have a choice. Will you allow it to steal your joy? Or will you move on and keep your peace? This is simple, but it is not always easy. It takes determination and strength.
It is important to let go of expectations in our lives. Too often we allow them to snatch our peace and rob us of the blessings that are right before our eyes. So the next time you are discouraged because you believe something should have gone differently, lay your expectations at the foot of the cross. When you hand your expectations over to God and allow Him to work everything together for good, you will feel peace and joy in your life.
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas