As we enter the holiday season and our social interactions become more frequent, there’s a likelihood that emotional triggers will surface for some people. Often there’s an unspoken and unrealistic expectation placed on “the holidays” that can be problematic. As believers, it’s important that we guard against this.
In the blog “Worth Beyond Rubies”, Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira writes about how to deal with holiday expectations.
Unmet expectations in life cause us to be ungrateful.
When we have expectations in life that are met with something other than what we wanted, it can seem unpalatable to us. We instead despise it because it didn't meet our expectations.
When we have expectations of people or circumstances that are not met, we can feel disappointment, disgust, anger, and even resentment.
It could have been that what we got instead would have been acceptable to us or even made us happy if we hadn’t placed that expectation on it. But because WE decided what the outcome should be, it was no longer pleasing to us, even if it was good.
Unmet expectations can cause you to miss a blessing!
What expectations are you placing on people or situations that are causing you to not enjoy the blessings you receive?
Expectation in the Bible – What Are You Expecting from God?
Have you been harboring your own expectations of God and then getting upset when He doesn’t meet those expectations?
Do you have unmet expectations from your prayer life? Are you expecting Him to answer a prayer the way YOU want rather than just seeking His will in the situation? Are you looking at His answers, His blessings, with disappointment just because your expectation wasn’t met?
The God of hope, in His abundant mercy, may be answering your prayer, but it may not look like what YOU determined it should, so you feel your prayers go unheard.
However, it may be answered in the way you NEED.
In the process you could be missing the blessing.
Praying in a State of Expectation – Praying like Jesus
Jesus gave us the perfect model of praying with expectation.
It was not an expectation that the powers of the heavens would suddenly rain down and destroy those who sought His life and that the hand of the Lord would pluck Him up and take Him out of the great suffering He was about to experience.
No, it was simple.
Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane crying out to the Father in prayer. Jesus said: “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (TLV)
Jesus didn’t tell God what to do. He didn’t lay out what He thought it should all look like. And if anyone could, it would be Him. No, He prayed (and I paraphrase) “If You are willing, take this from me, but it’s not my will but yours, and I put no further expectation on You than for You to do Your will.”
Jesus didn’t get upset or angry because He had to go to the cross in spite of this prayer.
The Son of Man surrendered His will in that moment of His humanity, that moment of pain and fear, to His Father, and He accepted the answer God gave.
His only expectation was God’s will.
Often we pray for God’s will to be done, but then get upset when it is not what we expected. Praying God’s will for our lives should be more than just a flowery phrase we utter during prayer. It is the total surrender of our will to His sovereignty.
Not my will, but Yours be done!
How to Deal With Unmet Expectations in a Godly Way
1. Pray – Ask God to reveal to you any expectations that you may be placing on Him or on the people in your life and trust God to meet your needs according to His will, not your own!
Keep a War Binder where you can keep track not only of your prayers but the answers and then your responses to those answers. How did they make you feel? How can you let God take over?
2. Confession – Confess any times you may have put expectations on God or other people. Surrender yourself to His will in all things knowing He only desires the best for you.
3. Journal – Keep a journal each day and examine your heart to see if there are areas in your life where you have been placing expectations, especially unrealistic expectations, on people at home, at work, at church, etc.
But also write down each day what you are grateful for. Gratitude is the perfect antidote for being upset because things didn’t go your way.
While a War Binder is centered around prayer, a gratitude journal will help you to recall the blessings in your life and help you to practice gratitude in a way that can change how you view times of disappointment.
4. Be Accountable – Give people permission to let you know, in a loving way, when they feel you are placing unfair expectations on them without you becoming defensive. This is accountability, not blaming or finger-pointing, and shouldn’t be done during arguments as a form of gaslighting.
So, establish boundaries for this accountability. It should be a loving reminder and not a blame game. Arguments or times of conflict should be times that are off limits for this – that is just the right thing to do so it is not taken the wrong way or used as a weapon. It should always be done lovingly and in a way that helps and not hurts.
5. Give Grace – There may be times when, under other circumstances, our expectations may have been acceptable, but people may be going through circumstances that make meeting those expectations difficult.
Try to be cognizant of people’s circumstances and good things will come out of assuming people have the best intentions. If they explain to you that they feel over-burdened, give grace and be willing to change those expectations where possible. Great things will come from just assuming the best of people.
What ways can you think of to manage not only unmet expectations but also how to avoid placing those expectations on others?
Bible Verses About Unmet Expectations
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 TLV
My soul waits in silence for God alone, because my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:6 CJB
Trust in Adonai with all your heart; do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him; then he will level your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 CJB
For however many promises God has made, they all find their “Yes” in connection with him; that is why it is through him that we say the “Amen” when we give glory to God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 CJB
Have a blessed holiday everyone!
Not OUR will, but God’s will be done!