Behold, I thought
Expectations! We all have them. When I moved to Sinton, I had expectations. Expectations of each of you. Expectations of the town, the neighbors, the home school community. When I got married, I had expectations. When my boys leave home to start their families, I have expectations. With each of my boys’ births, I had an expectation.
Those are major events in my life, but even minor events produce expectations. When I go to to Whataburger on Sunday evenings, I have an expectation that the restaurant will be clean and the food will be good. When I’m driving in my car, I have expectations that the other drivers will do what they are supposed to do and that the roads will be safe to drive on.
Until the other day, I had never really thought about it but I read an article that was circulating around Facebook. The article was about how expectations can kill a marriage. It made some really good points. How many arguments and resentful feelings are just because someone expected something that they didn’t get or that didn’t happen.
I had an expectation early in our marriage. My dad ate any and everything…well anything except brussel sprouts. I assumed that all men happily ate whatever was put before them. I was surprised when Danny wasn’t quite that willing to eat whatever was put before him. I had an expectation. Apparently Danny had an expectation as well. He expected me to prepare food that he liked. Our expectations conflicted. We learned to deal with it. I cooked more what he liked and he learned to eat food he never thought he would. That was a petty expectation but sometimes it’s those petty expectations that can turn into big problems.
Expectations can cause the same kinds of problems in any relationship. Whether it is an employer and his employee or whether it is parent and a child or a sister to sister in Christ, it is all the same. These relationships can be hurt or even destroyed if we have expectations that are not met.
It brings to mind the lesson we learn of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-14
“Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. 2 Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” 5 Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes.
6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.”
8 It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ 12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.”
- Expectation #1: The king of Aram thought the king of Israel could heal Naaman. Vs 7
Result #1: The king of Israel thought the king of Aram was trying to trick him. He had already taken some of his people (the young girl was one) as prisoner. Now he assumed he meant him harm.
- Expectation #2: The famous “Behold, I thought…” passage. Naaman expected Elisha to to come out, stand and call on the name of “his God”, wave his hand over the place, cure the leper.
Result #2: When Elisha sent a messenger out to tell Naaman to dip 7 times in the Jordan, Naaman became furious.
Both expectations were wrong. Both lead to false accusations and prideful behavior.
Other examples found in the Bible:
- Mary/Joseph when Jesus was in the temple. Luke 2:41-50
- Man at the beautiful gate. Acts 3:1-10
- Prodigal son (so many here involving both the sons and the father). Luke 15:11-32
So what are we to do? Not have any expectations? Do we even have a right to have expectations of others? Of course. But we need to choose our expectations wisely. Before looking at some things we can do to minimize damage done by our expectations let’s look at some examples of expectations we might have.
Examples of expectations we might have today.
Wife to Husband
- We can expect fidelity from our mate.
- We can expect to be loved.
- We can expect to be lead according to God’s will.
- We cannot expect do not have a right to always get our way.
Husband to Wife
- He can expect fidelity.
- He can expect to be respected.
- He can expect his wife to willingly submit to him.
- He cannot expect to do whatever he wants.
- He cannot expect to be cruel.
Child to Parent
- Children can expect to be loved.
- Children can expect to be safe.
- Children can expect to be taught about God.
- Children cannot to have luxuries.
- Children cannot expect to get their own way.
Parent to Child
- Parents can expect to be respected.
- Parents can expect to teach their children about God.
- Parents cannot expect to be cruel.
- Parents cannot expect perfection from their children.
- Parents cannot expect their child to be a mini me.
Brother to Brother (Sister to Sister)
- Brethren can expect their fellow brethren to adhere to God’s word.
- Brethren can expect communication that edifies and corrects.
- Brethren can expect physical as well as spiritual fellowship.
- Brethren cannot expect his work to be done by others.
- Brethren cannot expect his fellow brethren to be perfect.
Me to God
- I can expect God to fulfill His promises
- I cannot expect salvation on my terms.
God to Me
- God can expect complete obedience.
- God can expect complete respect.
- God can expect complete love.
What happens when I have a false or unrealistic expectation?
- It’s time to assess the situation. What caused me to have this expectation? Pride? Selfishness? False sense of what the other person is capable of?
- If pride and selfishness was the cause, it’s time to humbly change my attitude and my actions.
- If the expectation was a job or chore around here, do it myself: without grudging, without belittling, with love.
- Readjust my expectation to fit the situation.
What happens when my expectations were realistic but have not been met?
- Pray for strength and wisdom to know how to handle the situation.
- Do what is necessary to fix the problem: offer assistance, support, encouragement, etc.
- Take a good look at my expectation and adjust it as needed.
- In some situations it may be necessary to accept what I cannot change. Learn to deal with it and lovingly go on with life.