When I first heard that line, I thought it was about the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. After all, who doesn’t have expectations in their lives and isn’t it a good thing? Let’s find out.
When I first heard “An expectation is a disappointment waiting to happen,” I wanted to explain my rationale behind it and why I thought it was a good thing to have them. If people care, they expect something because they believe you were capable of producing what they are expecting. If they thought you weren’t capable of what they were asking, it would signal they didn’t think you could do it.
Case-in-point. When our children were in sports, I always told them that it was a good thing when a coach yelled at them in the midst of a game. If they were yelling, it meant they thought you were capable of producing more and wanted it from you. I pointed out that once coaches stop yelling, they stopped expecting you to produce, and you would more than likely find yourself on the bench all cozy like, not being threatened to produce one tiny bit of sweat and blood your team needed.
Let’s take a look at expectations beyond the sports floor. As an adult, when you get a job, your boss expects you to show up. When you get paid, you are expected to pay the bills. Because you are a human being, you are expected to treat other people as you would like to be treated and on it goes. If you do not fulfill the expectations of your boss, you find yourself without a job if you do not show up. You find yourself without an apartment by not paying the rent. You find yourself without friendship or worse yet, in places of confinement if you hurt humankind.
Switch to early a.m. real time. As I glanced down at the little brochure before me, I wondered why I’d never gone to volunteer at the impoverished schools abroad. I’d known the woman who started them, and my connections to her had lasted more than 20 years. The kiddos in the schools could have perhaps used another pair of eyes, another set of hands.
As I reflected, thoughts I’d never thought before came flooding in. The expectation of self to “be” a teacher, learn their language, create lesson plans, teach the teachers, follow up with more visits so that I would not be one to enter their lives only to exit quickly was overwhelming. I pictured the visits happening on an annual basis, and in between the visits collecting materials or clothing would be helpful. I envisioned lots of ways to help and what that might look like. The expectations of self were unending in how I could make their lives better.
But all too soon, the weight bearing thoughts came crashing to a halt. It was all just too much to bear, and I hadn’t even left the couch. Soon, I managed to get up, pour myself a cup of coffee in order to sit on the front porch. It seemed a bit more doable at the moment and so, I did.
Stop I did to ponder what had just taken place. Reflect I did upon the times this thought process brought many of an idea to a screeching halt before many even got off the ground — or rather — before I did.
Paralyzed by expectation stopped me in my tracks as I froze. Then, a foreign concept wove its way into my thought process.
What would happen if I had no expectations but rather stepped out in obedience entrusting that all would be as it was meant to be if I merely showed up sometimes. After all, I don’t see the panoramic view of what is to unfold in this world, but I am able to trust.
Trusting takes practice. Living trust takes courage. The brutal downloads of what life is supposed to be or look like should be more of a welcomed mystery than a load of ideas that tend to paralyze rather than move us forward.
After all, isn’t the fruit His business? Isn’t it merely my job to step out in obedience and not figure it all out ahead of time?
He’s on the throne and I do not want to be, or do I? Is it about me? Or is it truly about Him?
These are good questions to ask every so oft, soft like. In kindness let the gentle breezes carry it through your soul. I’m not sure what will happen…but something good will settle in.
Anytime we “lean not unto our own understanding,” we are actually living trust. In all our ways as we “acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths” (Proverbs 3:6). Amen.
Kathleen Kjolhaug lives on the family homestead outside of Clearbrook with her husband Pete. She enjoys writing about family life and brings humor into the sacred moments of everyday living.
Theology in the Trenches appears in several local newspapers throughout Minnesota. Kathleen can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org