Great Expectations … NOT

If you know me, you know I’m mourning the playoff loss Sunday by my beloved NY Giants. Sniff, sniff. And, of course, I’m not alone. The Giants entered the season as the reigning Super Bowl champs, and had the best record in team history (11-1) before they lost the next 4 out of 5 games, and the playoff game. You might call it a GIANT disappointment! Why? Because there were high expectations for this team that were not met.

Like so many others, my husband has been trying to figure out what’s going on with the stock market. And like so many others, he’s completely baffled. But there is one occurrence that is particularly astonishing to him: A report is published showing that the company performed better than the previous quarter, yet that stock value goes down! Why? Because the financial community expected an even higher gain than the actual gain. So here is a company doing well, making a profit in tough times, and because some financial fortune-teller predicted an even larger profit, the stock in that fine company dips. To avoid this, some companies are intentionally leaking fake poor reports. The problem – unrealistic expectations.

This is a problem for us, too. Disappointment is due to our expectations not being met. Our expectations often are too high or unrealistic. We hope, hope, hope for different circumstances or relationships, failing to recognize the blessings that we already have.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be hopeful. Not at all. Hope is one of 3 things that Scripture says will endure forever – “Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love…” 1 Cor. 13:13. Hope is a necessary part of our faith – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for ….” Heb. 11:1. Hope is what keeps us going during difficult times and are part of God’s plan – “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jer. 29:11 I have a lot more to say about hope, but will save that for a future post.

What is on my heart is this – sometimes we place expectations on someone else’s performance that are just unrealistic, and our disappointment stems from our error, not theirs. We expect those who serve in ministry to be perfect, yet they are as human as we are. We expect our loved ones to behave in the way that we want them to, sometimes even completely contrary to their nature. We want our husbands to purchase the perfect Christmas gift by reading our minds, supernaturally knowing our secret wish. Or perhaps we want him to say just the right thing, or pick up a dishtowel or put the kids to bed. That list goes on and on (by the way – is there anything sexier than a husband vacuuming? Oops – I digress.) We want our children to never embarrass us by saying or doing the “wrong” thing. We want our relatives to gather together as warmly as an idyllic Hallmark Christmas special. Frankly, we want people to remove the speck in their eye, while totally ignoring the beam in our eye. We want people to satisfy our needs in a way that only a perfect God can. Ouch. I’m sorry, I don’t want to be a finger pointer – I am speaking to myself first here. And I absolutely don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. What I do want is to spare you the disappointment that is sure to come if you place an expectation on someone that they cannot possibly live up to.

So…
Let us look for and list the positive qualities in people, rather than focus on the negatives, especially with family members. Oh, why is it so easy to let those irritations be our focus?
Let us try to see people as God sees them, and extend grace to them as He does to us.

Let us count our blessings instead of our disappointments. Or better yet, turn a disappointment into an appointment to meet with God. Share your frustration with without becoming a gripe session, and ask to view the situation through His eyes.

Here’s an excerpt from an email I received a while back, that puts a new perspective on some old annoyances:

Be Thankful
I AM THANKFUL:
FOR THE WIFE WHO SAYS IT’S HOT DOGS TONIGHT,
BECAUSE SHE IS HOME WITH ME, AND NOT OUT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.
FOR THE HUSBAND WHO IS ON THE SOFA BEING A COUCH POTATO,
BECAUSE HE IS HOME WITH ME AND NOT OUT AT THE BARS.
FOR THE TEENAGER WHO IS COMPLAINING ABOUT DOING DISHES
BECAUSE IT MEANS SHE IS AT HOME, NOT ON THE STREETS.
FOR THE TAXES I PAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM EMPLOYED .
FOR THE MESS TO CLEAN AFTER A PARTY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS.
FOR THE CLOTHES THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO SNUG
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT.
FOR A LAWN THAT NEEDS MOWING, WINDOWS THAT NEED CLEANING, AND GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE A HOME
FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE IT MEANS WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
FOR MY HUGE HEATING BILL
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM WARM.
FOR THE LADY BEHIND ME IN CHURCH WHO SINGS OFF KEY (you mean me??)
BECAUSE IT MEANS I CAN HEAR.
FOR THE PILE OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR.
FOR WEARINESS AND ACHING MUSCLES AT THE END OF THE DAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN CAPABLE OF WORKING HARD.
FOR THE ALARM THAT GOES OFF IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM ALIVE.
Susan
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  • Karen

    Hello Susan Panzica! How are you? I just read your Eternity Cafe for today. What a blessing you are to me! You always get my mind to think in different directions!

    I would love to share a story with you.

    Last year I was watching the super bowl with my sister and my niece and some friends. They are huge Giants fans. They are also not saved.

    After the game was over I could hear my niece Amanda and her friend, Sarah whispering and I heard Sarah say, “Ask your Aunt Karen….she’ll know.”

    I said, “What’s going on?”

    And Sarah said, “She prayed for the Giants to win! She can’t pray for that! Tell her she can’t pray for that!”

    Without hesitation I said, “Sarah, Amanda can pray for whatever she wants and if it’s a football game that gets Amanda to her knees than I am all for it.”

    Then I turned to Amanda and said, “Remember, God cares about all of your needs, not just the football!”

    I don’t know how much she absorbed but there were some really good seeds planted that day and God blessed me with the right words to say. God gives me what I need when I need it….He’s so good!

    See you Sunday! Are you teaching the Sunday school class? I signed up….now just pray I wake up in enough time!
    Karen

  • Cathy

    Susan,
    Your entry today is perfect!! Keep writing!
    Love,
    Cathy