Sunday, September 9, 2007

Great(?) Expectations

So the thing is, I really have no idea who all reads this blog except for the few of you who comment or have emailed me to respond to it. So I'm kinda going out on a limb here because I MAY risk offending certain people on the off chance they're actually reading this. It's not my intention to do so, but I've been mulling something over that needs to be put in writing, and I have no time to both blog and keep a journal, so please, if any family members are reading this, don't be offended, because really, it's about me, not about you.
There. The Magical Disclaimer. Clearly, this is not going to be about curriculum choices!
Now, on to business. I have come to the conclusion that life would be much more joyous, pleasant, and easy if I simply had NO expectations of other people. Why do I get frustrated and irritated with the people closest to me? Because I have expectations of them -- some reasonable, and some, once I have a chance to reflect on them a bit, not entirely so (e.g. that they should read my mind, know exactly what I want or would do in a given situation, and want to do so). For example. My extended family is extremely important to me (meaning not only dh&dc but also parents, siblings, and in-laws) and I cherish this ideal that they, like me, would make time together a top priority in their schedules. When this doesn't happen, sometimes my inner three-year-old falls on the floor crying and then sulks for days. "How could they not want to be with us? How could they not invite us to do such-and-such? How could they not find it of utmost joy and importance to initiate quality time with our kids?" etc. etc. Mature, I know. I'm working on it.
Another example, along the same lines. When we moved here from SC, partly to be closer to family, I had this lovely ideal, based on the experience of friends I observed, that our extended family members would be so excited to have us here, and so observant of the fact that I am (by choice, I acknowledge) with my darlings 24/7 without the resources at the moment to hire outside help, that they would leap to the rescue, happily offering to facilitate the occasional date night or Mom break. Or at least, when we gathered up our courage to ask, would be willing to drop whatever plans they had and lend a hand. And furthermore, they would ask at regular intervals, in all earnest sincerity and with genuine interest, how we were doing, how the homeschooling was going, how we were adjusting to life in Austin, etc. But you know what? God is making it abundantly clear to me, not in a finger-pointing way but in a gentle, are-you-listening way, that the problem is ME (and the solution is HIM). Those things that I envisioned, perhaps even took for granted, are simply not going to happen, and it's because I need to learn this. Just because I would express my love for people in a certain way, doesn't mean I can expect the same of them (repeat the mantra!). Nor does the apparent lack of those expected/hoped-for behaviors indicate a lack of love on their part. Nor can I form expectations based on how my loved ones treat other people, even if that seems fair and reasonable. I think that honestly, in most relationships, the words "fair and reasonable" just don't apply. They are, in fact, toxic and burdensome, because ultimately, NONE of us can live up to each other's expectations (especially if they're unexpressed and simply stewed over). I need to let them all go ... and in their place, make room for grace and for gratitude. For which there are, in all truthfulness, reasons in abundance.
Ah, but it's one thing to see it. Letting it happen, genuinely, from the inside out -- that, I think, will take a lifetime.


Jenny said...


Becca said...

It's such an upward road, isn't it? This whole letting go and really trusting God. Echoing the HUGS!!

Tracee said...

You know, I feel your pain. I want to give you "permission" to let the 3-year old feel the hurt, without burying it. Give it to God only after you have allowed your heart to truly break over it. Otherwise, it will keep coming back, trust me. ;) And while you're being 3, remember to let your adult self comfort that inner child. You and she deserve it!

MoreThanJustaMom said...

You know, I am gradually learning some things along those same lines , too, and finding that God, in his patient and quiet way, is doing GOOD things for me in sometimes withholding the fulfilment of my expectations or desires. He's so awesome!