I used to have this friend who expected a lot of me but would completely freak out whenever she felt I was expecting anything of her. I don't know if I thought at the time that I could deliver, thus feeling the burden of expectations less, but anyway, it took me a few more fraught experiences and friendships to realise that superimposing expectations over personhood is pretty tough to deal with when you're the person being superimposed upon.
All of a sudden in the last week a whole lot of things have come up independently of each other regarding expectations I have of others and of myself. And of Jesus. Then today I discovered that Jeff's been blogging about worshipping expectations instead of Jesus. I feel like I do that a lot. I also feel like it's impossible not to have expectations and that I don't know what to do with them.
I think the short, and theoretically easy, answer is: just worship Jesus. Relinquish expectations. Just fuggedaboudit.
Or something like that.
I would counter, however, that a relationship is about trust, and a relationship with Jesus is especially about trust, and it's hard to actively trust if you're not expecting something. I guess what I'm supposed to trust is that Jesus loves me and will take care of me and no one will snatch me out of His hand. Which I feel He is graciously enabling me to do more and more these days. But I don't know, on a practical level, how to trust Him with specific situations.
Say there's something I'm praying about. I've been praying about it for a long time. I feel I've been obedient within the situation as best I know how. I know that on a realistic level, the thing I'm praying about can't change much. I also know that Jesus does miracles. Seriously. He does miracles, people! And I'm talking to Him. And He's pretty good with upsetting the status quo. So . . . do I expect Him to do the miracle? Or do I expect Him to get me through the situation without the miracle?
Well, I'll tell you what I'm temperamentally more likely to expect. (I mean, I won't tell you, but I'm pretty sure you can guess.) Is it more trusting, more Jesus-glorifying, more obedient, more worshipful to expect and hope for the totally unlikely miracle? Or is it more all-those-things to be more of a realist, to expect no miracle and to watch and see what happens without it?
Hoping and expecting a miracle seems braver and scarier and a lot more like putting myself out there to get hurt and shamed and at the very least disappointed. But it seems like that's what all the people who get a mention in the Bible did anyway--expected a miracle. At least eventually. (And they did often get hurt and shamed and disappointed, but they still got their miracles, too.) Not expecting a miracle seems safer but also more responsible and less of an imposition of my will on God's.
I don't want to burden God with selfish expectations the way my friend and I burdened each other all those years ago. If there's a free Being anywhere, it's God, and He doesn't deserve (nor do I believe will He tolerate) to be boxed in to my own little personal will. But without faith it's impossible to please God, and all those people in Hebrews 11 trusted in God, but also in specific things that God had promised for them. I don't know how to tell the difference between my wishes and God's promises, and I just don't know what to expect . . .