Three reasons why high expectations can kill joy
I'm a high expectations person...
I always want things to be the best and I often have a preconceived idea of how things should work out.
This is a helpful trait as someone who is a visionary and I reckon seeking excellence is a pretty biblical endeavour.
However... I have found over time that having rigid expectations and holding tight to them can often kill joy.
Here's 3 reasons why...
1. Expectations can evolve into entitlement
Back when I was in my early 20s I never thought for a minute that I would be single at the age of 34, that I wouldn't have had a baby, that I would be living on my own...
I looked at the life journey of the people around me and I began to have expectations for my life which turned into assumptions which turned into entitlement.
And here's the entitlement (you might have heard this one before) -
Everyone is entitled to be married and have children.
Although it sounds like a positive thing - this idea is actually pretty toxic, its not biblical and it makes us feel like we've been robbed of something if we don't get it.
And these kind of assumptions can make it hard to focus on all the brilliant things about our lives, because we're too busy grieving for what we haven't got or haven't done.
That's not to say that we should never be sad about things that haven't happened in our lives. It's totally ok to be real about that, especially with God. It's also not to say we shouldn't pursue the desires of our hearts and seek out romantic love and family.
But if we look at our lives through a lens of gratitude for what we do have, rather than disappointment that it didn't work out how we expected, then we'll have a clearer perspective on how God is blessing us.
2. Things rarely work out the way you expect them to
Disappointment kills joy like nothing else. And when we have set exceptions about how things should be then we'll often be disappointed.
People will let us down.
Something you've organised will be a disaster.
People at your church will sometimes behave like idiots.
There's only one thing we can be truly sure about -
God is good and he loves us consistently with grace and faithfulness.
Other than that we need to go with the flow and recognise that this world is often wonky and so are the people in it.
Just because a relationships not perfect doesn't mean it's not right. Just because a projects hard doesn't mean it's not where you should be. Just because people in your church are idiots doesn't mean it's not God's purpose for you to be there.
3. God often works in unexpected ways
If we have very set expectations then we're not leaving room in our imagination for God to do something amazing. All the way through the Bible we see God blowing apart people's expectations and doing things beyond what they hoped for.
Think about Jesus' first followers and their idea of what the Messiah would be like. They were so set in their idea of what Jesus 'should' be doing that they almost missed the beautiful unexpected, upside down nature of his Kingdom and his ministry.
'Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!'
I know for sure that if life had worked out how I expected then I wouldn't have started Honoured. I'm sure I wouldn't have been leading worship. I wouldn't have met half the people that are now a massive part of my life. I wouldn't have adopted my two beautiful children.
Inversely we never know what's about to happen next. We could meet someone that we'd never expect to fall for. We could get an opportunity that we never saw coming. Thats part of the excitement of being single - lots of possibilities are open.
Maybe let's set aside some of our expectations and just go with the flow of the adventure God is calling us on knowing there's one thing we can always expect - God's faithful love and grace will surround us every step of the way.