Thursday, April 26, 2012

Discontentment with Expectations

Too high or too low, expectations can trip us and leave us forever angry, upset, embarrassed, and discontent. As in all things, there must be a balance, even with expectations. Not too low, not too high.

I have struggled with and written about expectations so I was grateful for Michelle Duggar's input on having expectations towards our family members and how to handle them.  Sometimes I fear having made simple expectations for my family (like asking my children to grow-up to be good, kind, loving, decent, hard working, Christian human beings in anotherwise competitive, harsh world) is too...simple.

When is simple not good enough?

I haven't raised rocket scientists and they are far from holy. God's still working on them and for that I feel a strange sense of relief and calm. My lower-than-some-parents' expectations has been more for myself than they; I knew I couldn't live up to other people's expectations of me so I did not set goals for them which I knew I could not reach or one's I had already failed at.  I knew if I set higher-than-thou expectations of my children that when they failed I'd be wallowing in the mud.

I don't like mud and I don't like wallowing.

For my husband and I, compassionate expectations trump competitive ones. But that's just us.

Family-orientation is one goal I did set and stressed and implemented. It seems to be the one expectation my children have committed to memory. There are some expectations I wish I had stressed more but, when I think of other parents who stressed those same expectations and seen their children fail in achieving them, I realize that none of us are in control of our children and their lives...expectations or not.

No one can secure expectations of others because we all have free will.

Regarding the giving up of expectations, Michelle writes:
"... giving up expectations gives us a grateful spirit -- we're not discontent with where we are in life. And we're not always grumbling and complaining about the way things should be -- it really does create a spirit of gratefulness in our heart."
For the most part I learned to lower my expectations after failed expectations threatened to snowpile me under. This was when I was a young wife and mother with high expectations. My mentors were the saints. With guidance from many, many saints who learned (and shared through spiritual writings) how to trust in God's will, I have learned how to deal with expectations. It isn't that I don't still have expectations...high ones even...but I've learned that when those expectations get smashed over my head, I have to lean boldly on this quote:

"Banish from your soul, then, in times of adversity, every thought that cannot be expressed in these few words: It is God's will. Any other thought will only increase your anguish and make you feel your unhappiness even more deeply." (The Imitation of Mary)

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