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Living Without Expectations

It's been said that we should expect the unexpected, but if we do some simple math, we find that statment to be an impossibility. How does that even work? To calculate something that cannot be calculated?

Albert Einstein once said that "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results." Sorry, but to me, that sounds like research! My experience has taught me that doing the same thing over and over again, then demanding that the results be different, even with empirical evidence to the contrary, would qualify as insane.

Titus 3:7 says, "And so we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life." So the Word of God says what we can expect from believing in him. But what about people? Can we have expectations of them? Should we?

I remember a meeting with my pastor shortly after my wife and I were married. We went over some common sticking points that couples encounter. Then he asked me a question that changed my perspective... and then my life.

He said "Do you have any expectations of your wife?" It caught me a bit off guard so I laughingly replied, "NO! Not at all!" He then asked me if I expected her to be faithful, I said, "Sure." He smiled and said, "Well then, that's an expectation." So he gave me this challenge, "Write down five expectations you have of your wife, then call me and we will discuss them over coffee."

When I got home I sat down and started writing down what I thought were my expectations of my wife. By the time I was done I had twelve! Excited, I called my pastor and made an appointment to meet with him two days later. When we sat down I handed in my "homework", thinking how proud he would be of me for coming up with so many. He slowly pulled the paper across the table and as he read them one by one, he would nod his head and say, "Oh", "Humm", "I would have never thought of that one". I had a sneaking suspicion at that point that he was about to bring the hammer down! And he didn't dissapoint!

He placed two fingers from each hand on the page, turned it around to face me and slowly slid it back to me and said, "Now, if she breaks even one of these, has she not broken them all?" It felt like glass inside of me shattered, my face fell into my hands and I sadly said, "Yes." I will never forget what he said next, "Then why have them?"

I had written twelve, now I couldn't come up with one that made any sense! My mind raced quickly from, "don't I have the right to have some expectations", to justifying every one that I ever had, to "how can anyone live without them?"

Mark 12:30-31 says, "And you shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." The second is this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these. Nowhere in this passage does it say that when we do this, that we should expect it to be returned to us by man. By God yes, but not man.

My wife and I have found that anything worth having, is worth doing the hard work to keep. But before you decide what you want in life, you have to decide what you are willing to give up to get it. Even if that means giving up our expectations of others. Once we learned how to do that, it has opened the door for us to love each other by choice. And when that love comes back without expecting it, WOW!

We are now going on sixteen years of marriage, without any expectation of it going another sixteen. But if it does, God willing, how wonderful will that be!

Wake Up Christian

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