Monday, March 16, 2009


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 . . .


Cliff said...

Have you read the Harry Potter books? I don't have a J-shaped scar on my forehead - do you have a C-shaped one on yours? Cuz it sounds an awful lot like you're living my life...especially if this pertains to the same areas of our respective lives... And in that, there's this bit from No Man Is an Island which, while encouraging, I'm not entirely sure what to do with myself.

It's long - I'll email it to you.

Jenn said...

Cliff--I have read Harry Potter. Definitely parallel lives. No "C"-shaped scar though. Thanks for the email . . .

Young Christian Woman said...

Umm... yeah, that's a tough one.

Gee, I'm a lot of help today :)

I'd love to know the answer though.

That's related to the whole "Why do we pray?" kick I was on a while back. Praying for what we want is selfish. God knows what is best for us and will do what is best for us. So we are supposed to ask God for... what again? That His will be done? But His will, regardless, will be done.

Eventually I just settled on praying the Lord's prayer (or at least what He told the disciples to pray). And now I'm back to just praying desperately for what I want Him to do, on the off chance He will.

Jenn said...

YCW--that sounds . . . very familiar!

everydayMOM said...

Hey Jenn with 2 ns, I just stopped by here for the first time today from a friend's blog.

Ahhh... expectations! One of my biggest struggles!

Just thinking out loud... but my first thought is that we should expect Jesus to do what only he can and will do! And we really don't know what that is! But he does know HOW things are going to happen, which is a huge relief because then we don't have to worry about it. =]

When it comes to expectations from people, I realized that my expectations came from my mistaken belief that I have a "right" to certain things.... a right to be treated with respect... a right to be cared for in just the way I think I should ... a right to be appreciated. Actually, the only right I have is the right to be called a Child of God! It's impossible for other people to live up to my expectations (especially when they don't know what they are half the time!).

Anyway... there's a long response from a first-time reader.
=] emily

Jenn said...

Emily--thanks for visiting and for leaving a comment. I can really resonate.

Please come again! ;)

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