As of today we’re halfway through our Cleanup Challenge, so I wanted to take a little break from the messy house pictures and share some more solid food for thought with you instead.
I was reading my friend Kristi’s blog awhile back and was quite struck by a post she wrote on Expectations. I loved what she had to say, and I think her words will likely ring home with more people than just me. Kristi has graciously agreed to my posting her thoughts here, but when you have a chance I highly recommend a stop over at Gently Led to enjoy some of her other musings.
A confession: when people don’t meet my expectations, I tend to blame them, not my own expectations. I think they could do better than this, if only they tried harder, or if they were more spiritual. (Condemning, aren’t I?) Not that I explicitly think this, but it seems to be my underlying belief. Why else would I be frustrated at them for not doing or being what I want them to do or be?
Probably the only person I don’t usually have unreasonable — i.e. often unmet — expectations of is my son. He is 22 months old. I expect a toddler to sometimes cry, have a low level of frustration tolerance, and to demand a lot of attention. And most of the time, he is lots of fun. Why, I wonder, is it so easy for me to love him and not condemn him, and so hard with other people?
Jesus’ response to the poor widow giving money at the temple offering box shows me the problem with my expectations. After “many rich people put in large sums,” the widow gave “two small copper coins, which make a penny” (Mark 12:41, 42). Jesus said to his disciples, “this woman has put in more than all these who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (v. 43, 44).
How convicting. Jesus knows what spiritual and emotional riches other people have; I don’t. Where I see — and privately condemn — someone’s meager contribution, Jesus sees a heartfelt self-sacrifice.
I’ve always thought it sounded trite and unsatisfying when someone says about people who let them down, “Well, they did the best they could.” Perhaps this is just another way of saying that — but lately I’ve found it helpful, when I’m disappointed with someone’s behavior, to think, “Maybe this is their two cents.”
~Kristi, of Gently Led, September, 2008
As we are in the midst of the holidays, when we all likely be getting together with family and friends to celebrate in one form or another, our expectations of those we love can come to the forefront of interactions. Sometimes these expectations can be good and right, but oftentimes I think we are the most critical of those who are closest to us, and hold expectations of them that are neither charitable nor healthy. I have seen firsthand the damage and hurt caused by unfair expectations. Not surprisingly, I have been the one harboring the unfair expectations more often than I’d like to admit.
I appreciate Kristi’s reminder to me and all of us about viewing others through Christ’s eyes. If we were to keep this at the forefront of our interactions with family and friends this holiday, how much more grace-filled our Christmas would be! Thanks Kristi, for sharing your two cents.