“Why is this taking so stinking long?!” These were the words spoken to my wife today. I, like everyone struggle with patience. It is amazing to me how long things seem to take until we get there. Then miraculously it wasn’t that bad. We are almost numb to good things sometimes, but notice everything that we don’t have. Isn’t the mind a funny thing? So why does everything feel like it takes forever? It is because of our spoken or unspoken expectations. I started writing and had such unrealistic expectations. It was like I expected the world to go, “Hey check out this guy!” “Have you heard of him, Zechariah Newman?” “He knows what he is talking about.” Sign up and follow him.” My friends and family would say, “Wow you were born to do this! How can we help?” As you could guess this didn’t happen to the degree I thought it would. Most don’t say a thing and most don’t care. This is not a bad thing. They love me and I love them. The truth is, not one could live up to the false image in my mind. It is as if I had attached blue thumbs up and sharing of posts as love. So where do we go now? Where do you go when you realize your expectations are unspoken and unrealistic? These 4 things help me set realistic expectations.
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1. State them. Rocket science I know, people cannot read our minds. Why do we forget this? “They should know,” is what we think, however this is not true. If we don’t state what we expect of others we cannot get mad when this unspoken expectation is not met. In any relationship we enter into both friendly and romantic, we will come into it with a certain set of expectations. Say what you expect so others can choose whether to oblige you or not. Make sure that this is done politely and that you are open to a “no.” The key is to clarify, not to get what you want.
2. Ask someone. Ask someone not involved for their unemotional opinion. Not gossiping, let me repeat that not gossip. Merely state what you are expecting of someone else and if that is reasonable or not. What we often do is ask many people until we find an opinion that we want and then ask a bunch more people just to make ourselves feel better. Don’t do this. Find a wise and honest person. I have a man I meet with Wednesday mornings. He has told me I’m a moron a time or two. I love him and he is like an older brother to me. Thanks, Joe.
Proverbs 11:4 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
3. Pray. Phone home. The Bible says in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Ask our Father in heaven. Be still enough to hear. Do what He tells you to do. It is as simple and as hard as that.
4. Lay It down. This is the hardest thing to do and the thing that will give us the most peace. We all need a moment like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Before being thrown into the fire for not bowing down to the golden image, they say that God can save them but then they say this, “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:18. There comes a moment where we need to lay down what we want. Put the big boy or girl pants on and go, “That hurts, but God has me in the palm of His hand, mold me Father.”
I have been molded and changed more by unmet expectations, rejection, failures, and many other painful things. Don’t run from pain. Embrace it. We are all going to let others down. Let’s pledge to live in an atmosphere of grace. Pray, ask a trusted advisor, communicate your expectations, then lay it down. Set a boundary of expectation and then commit to forgive people even if they don’t meet it. We don’t need to allow people to continue to cross a line. We do need to forgive and love in spite of it. Blessings on your journey!