I stood there in the coffee shop completely mortified. My daughter was throwing a fit over leaving and literally refused to move her little feet beyond the table where we had just 5 minutes prior been drinking our “coffees” and drawing on napkins cheerfully. I tried warnings, counting and even the “Ok, bye then. “ fake-out move. (You know the one.) But, no to avail. My strong willed girl stood her ground. Trying to hide my embarrassment and keep my cool, I whispered in her ear the advice she needed to get moving and led her with a firm hand out the door. All the while she cried pitifully for passerbyers. *insert eye roll and simultaneous face to palm* Parenting has got to be the most humbling job ever, am I right?
You see, I had certain expectations for how this day would go. It’s a day I had been anticipating with many mixed emotions for awhile now—kindergarten enrollment day. I got P and I ready for the day, hopped in the car and headed down to what will be her school home for the next 7 years! We picked up her packet and heard all about the way things run in kinder world. After that, I treated my big girl to a hot chocolate date with mom at the cutest coffee shop in town. How nice of me to think of her and how inconsiderate that she didn’t go along with my plans with a joyful attitude, right?
Expectations. If comparison is the thief of joy, then expectations are the accomplice in the getaway car. They disappoint every. single. time. I talk about this in my new devotional book Remain. Any time we put our hope in someone other than Jesus, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. We are depending on a person or a circumstance to meet our needs or fill us up in a certain area, and that just isn’t how God designed it. He knew people would fail us and He knew that we would fail others. He designed us to be filled by Him alone.
This past weekend at a women’s retreat, I had the pleasure of learning from Debbie Alsdorf. She’s a wonderful speaker and writer with a plethora of great books and bible study resources for women. She spoke to us about the proverbial cup we all carry. God provides us with this cup and He is our “pour over”. He pours over us every good and perfect thing we need to live the “lot” He has given us. When we live in that place of focus and dependence, we don’t need from the people around us. We don’t walk around asking what the world can give us or do for us. Rather, we pour out instinctively from the abundance that was poured over us.
The fit my daughter threw this morning was embarrassing, inappropriate and definitely needed to be redirected. However, that wasn’t what truly hurt me. It was the failed expectation that made my heart sink. It was a picture perfect moment this teacher mama had created in her mind that fell flat when disrupted. Kids are kids. They will never be perfect. To allow that failed expectation to ruin my day (and hers) isn’t fair to either of us.
So how do we stop ourselves from doing this…from sabotaging ourselves with expectations? Is it not ok to live hopeful that good things will happen?
I believe that God wants us in a place of hope—just not a self-created hope. I believe He wants us to wake up each morning with open hands and hearts, saying “Here I am, Lord. What do you have for me today?” I also believe He wants us to speak to Him our desires and dreams. He cares about them and wants to answer them according to His good and perfect will. We just have to be willing to submit. Today should have started with me telling God about my hopes and plans for today and inviting Him into them.
When we invite Him in, He does a work in our hearts and minds that we don’t see coming. He prepares us for what we will face and He pours over us every good thing we will need to live the day well. So, dear friend, I encourage you to consider your expectations. Who are you unintentionally setting up for failure? What expectations might you need to let go of? Read and pray this prayer with me from Remain:
“Lord, you are my constant. I praise you for you are always good! You are my provider , my strength, and my perfect peace. Reveal to me the expectations I’ve been holding on to. Help me to release those things and consequently let some of the people in my life off the hook. Remind me that you are the only one that can provide for me and fill me fully. Help me to be more dependent on you in this area of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen. “