I hit a breaking point yesterday. This past week I released myself from fulfilling the expectations of keeping my emotions under control. It can be exhausting at times – holding back my instincts due to some expectation of how I should act or respond in a certain situation.
Why should I exercise self-control when there are times other people don’t care to control their own reactions?
Why should I stop and consider where the other person is coming from when they don’t seem to consider my perspective?
It is utterly exhausting trying to live up to others’ expectations (real or perceived), putting up a guard to avoid coming off the wrong way, or scooting around certain phrases or not speaking my mind on a matter to avoid “offending” or making someone feel “judged”. Of course there is a time and place for these discretion but I’m talking about the moments when honesty is needed to resolve the matter.
Do I think I’m right all the time?
Do I think I’ve figured out how to overcome all the challenges in life?
But I do think I’ve earned some credibility and that those closest to me would respect that. I also think that the foundation of overcoming every major trial in my life should be recognized instead of ignored.
Am I diverting from my point? Or am I getting to the core of the matter?
Could it be that deep down, I have been EXPECTING recognition and because I am getting unsolicited advice instead, my frustration has built like a pressure boiler.
Why is it so hard for others to recognize my triumphs? To give me kudos instead of corrections?
Why do others feel the need to change me and mold me into who they think I should be or how they think I should act or react to a certain situation? And why are they rarely willing to be on the other end, to hear me out, or to attempt to see things from my perspective?
This past week, I’ve dug deeper trying to find the answers, but it seems impossible. No matter how I look at it it’s all a waste of time and energy. I will never live up to the expectations of others, and they will never live up to mine.
With all these thoughts brewing, several blog posts crossed my path that seemed to explain parts of my dilemma in various ways.
First, a Proverbs 31 Ministries post on the topic of Comparing, written by Renee Swope:
After reading this, I was compelled to share the post on my personal Facebook page, and made a comment I hoped would resonate with all the women in my life. It reveals a part of the problem and a simple solution we can all ask ourselves when we are feeling conflict brewing with another woman.
Are we making comparisons or embracing our differences?
If I examine each of my relationships and our typical conversations, they are almost all focused on comparing and not completing (or embracing our differences). And at the core, isn’t this also about expectations?
When we say to each other things like, “Well, I _________ in that situation.” Or “You should just _____,” in an attempt to resolve the problem, are we not both comparing ourselves as well as impressing our own expectations on the other person?
We compare when we don’t accept the others struggles for what they are—a struggle and not a cry for advice or being told we are not putting in enough effort.
We compare when we think we can’t choose or react in the same way as the other person. Be it one who brushes off the problem as if it doesn’t matter, or another who insists I take a specific action to resolve it.
We compare when instead of truly listening, we wait for our first chance to share how we would approach the struggle.
We submit expectations at the same time, because if the “advice” is not heeded, then we collectively fall short in our own eyes while falling short in theirs.
I am willing to admit I’ve played a part in this negative cycle of reaching out to other women only to feel like a failure at the end of the conversation. But I’m tired of it!
When I’m struggling, I want to hear the words, “Sorry to hear you’re going through a rough time. Is there anything I can do to help?”
I want the option to just vent and let it out. I don’t want to feel like I’m not doing enough and that’s why I’m in the struggle to begin with.
I don’t want to hear what I need to do differently. I simply want to be heard.
This morning, I discovered a blog post written by Jan Kern. The connection between comparing and expectations becomes clearer.
In her post simply titled Expectations, she asks this question:
What if I live up to my expectations, my goals and dreams, my prayers and understanding of God’s love for me—instead of the expectations of others?
What if? This is such a loaded question I’m not sure the answer can even be put into words.
First, I need determine what those expectations are.
When I attempt to answer that, there are too many voices in competition—I can’t put aside the expectations of others to discover what actually belongs to me.
So, I’ll start at the end. What is my understanding of God’s love for me and how does that lead to what I think He expects of me?
After a few moments of contemplating what could be a very complicated answer, I recall the simple 5-finger mantra I learned back in 2004 while completing the Believing God Bible study taught by Beth Moore.
1. God is who He says He is.
2. God can do what He says He can do.
3. I am who God says I am.
4. I can do all things through Christ.
5. God’s Word is alive and active in me.
I’m Believing God!
I know God doesn’t expect perfection. If He did, he wouldn’t have sent Jesus to die for those imperfections on the cross.
I know God loves me deeply and looks beyond all my insecurities and doubts and unrealistic expectations of myself and the type of wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend I think I’m supposed to be.
I know God has given me a desire to take my life experiences and present them as an offering to Him and the world through my writing.
I know He intends GOOD and not harm.
I know He sees my heart above all else, even when I speak, act, or react in ways that do not honor or glorify Him.
Finally, I know his mercies are new every morning. I need not dwell on the past but embrace today as a new opportunity to live by His grace, which more than overcomes my greatest weakness.
When I stand strong on these truths, I will be able to set all other expectations aside and have the confidence that I am acting and speaking according to God’s expectations alone.