SHARING and CARING…it’s what LIFE is all about!

Expectations vs Reality

Posted by on Oct 31, 2015 in Blog, Food for Thought, Quotes | 1 comment

chasmSometimes words keep circling in my head like a revolving door and, more often than not, I’m unable to ignore them. Expectations is one of those words.

In checking the dictionary, I discovered that some words linked to expect and it’s derivative are: hopes, desires, trust, anticipation…leaving me with the thought that when we expect something, it’s usually with a positive attitude, expecting positive results: Being able to get up in the morning to face another day. Having food in the fridge to satisfy our physical needs. Making an effort to take care of our bodies and expecting good results. And, in my case, expecting a kiss good night…without fail!

These expectations are endless.

But then the coin flips.

Have you ever set your hopes and desires on something you determined to be absolutely and completely reasonable—even healthy, positive and uplifting—only to have them dissolve into vapour, leaving you woefully disappointed? I’m thinking of those failed expectations that crash in on you without warning and leave you helpless as to where to turn or what to do. Those failed expectations that leave your heart pounding in your chest, fearing the future and your head spinning from dashed hopes.

I heard a comment this past summer by one of our weekly speakers at Muskoka Bible Conference that summed up this emotional tunnel very succinctly. In sharing his thoughts on Forgiveness, Bryan Loritts said that, “Between expectations and reality is a chasm of disappointment.” One cannot but nod in agreement.

I googled Pastor Loritts’s concept of failed expectations and discovered the topic is SO big that there are numerous authors and web sites on the subject. Dating, marriage, children’s behaviour, climbing the corporate ladder and a person’s role in a leadership position, to name only a few.

One such author is Susan Massa at who shares her approach in dealing with the gap between expectations and reality. Ms. Massa opened with the following: “We all have expectations of others and others have expectations of us. Sometimes we know exactly what is expected of us. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we do what is expected of us whether we like it or not. Sometimes we don’t.” (Notice how often she uses the word expectations or a derivative of it.) Later in her article she acknowledges that it’s impossible to change others. She goes on to say, “…keep in mind that the person on the other end of your expectations always has a choice, so there are no guarantees they will satisfy your expectations” (italics mine). She further remarks that, “Whether you live up to someone else’s expectations of you is always a choice” (italics mine).

I believe Ms. Massa is suggesting that the responsibility of how we deal with failed expectations is ours to own. And, to some degree, I believe that’s true. Insomuch as we are not responsible for someone else’s decisions, reactions or behaviour, we are responsible for how we respond to the disappointment or, perhaps the fallout—possibly the rejection—of another person’s decision.  Charles Ringma, author of Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen adds these thoughts: “The greatest gifts we can give to others is the gift of freedom, where we allow the other person to take the responsibility for his or her own responses, choices, and future.”

I believe, too, that it does come down to choice, and I am totally convinced that choice and expectations go hand-in-hand. For example, I can choose to spend hours at the computer, expecting great results, only to be frustrated at the outcome. I can choose to be angry when a person’s  words or actions cut me to the core, having expected the opposite, or I can choose to let go of the hurt and trust God for healing—and I say that quite humbly knowing my human frailty.

Simply writing this short blog on the topic of expectations I feel I have fallen short of my own expectations! Be that as it may. But I have to admit whenever failed expectations land at my door—whether self-inflicted or from another—I take comfort in Psalm 5:3, knowing that where mankind fails me, or I fail myself, God never will. I can count on Him to fulfill all that concerns me!

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;

in the morning I lay my requests before you

and wait expectantly.

One Comment

Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Heather Joyes.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *