A lot of years ago I had a young friend who was struggling in a young marriage. I wasn’t that much older than she or that much more experienced at the time, but I did offer her one piece of wisdom I had already struggled over and come to terms with myself.
She expected her husband and her marriage to be a certain way, and neither was living up to it. I told her to eliminate her expectations. Not lower them; forget them. Put away the measuring stick for a while. If you are not measuring to see how someone or something compares to your personal standard, then the likelihood of disappointment is decreased.
If you constantly compare something/someone with where it actually is to where you think it should be, all you will ever see is the gap in between. Sometimes it helps to just see things and people as they really are without any surrounding, calculating comparisons. Try to see them like God sees them.
Now I know that God looks at all of us and sees the potential of who we could be. I also believe that we should do that with each other. Where I think we get into trouble is when we start assigning markers to the steps of someone else’s potential. Like saying, “isn’t he old enough to know better?” Or, “doesn’t she know she shouldn’t be doing that?”(And, for the record, I’m talking about adults here. Not children.)
When we set those markers, we’ve imposed our expectations on them. It’s one thing to want and hope and pray that things and people will turn out to be what we want them to be. It’s a completely different animal when we transfer the sole responsibility of living up to our expectations on to them and then punish them when they don’t.
Last time I checked, the convicting and refining work of the Holy Spirit was not my job.
So, why am I thinking about all of this?
Recently I was told by someone that I didn’t live up to the expectations and standards they had for me. It was not in my marriage. It was at church. I was shocked by the confrontation. It was…unexpected. I had no idea that such standards had been placed on me.
My reaction? Of course I was hurt. I thought I was striving to lead a Godly life. I regretted that anything I said or did unintentionally caused someone else to become so angry and confrontational. Honestly, it felt more like they were disapproving of who I was rather than of anything I had said or done. I felt unjustly condemned.
Then, I began to think…the one who confronted me should not have handled it in the way that he did. I thought about all the different ways that whole situation should have been approached. Someone in his position should have taken into consideration…
Ahhhh, there it is. He’s not living up to my expectations either.
I’m throwing out my measuring stick. The gap is gone. My expectations are gone. I’m looking to see more clearly what God sees.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2