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Unhealthy Expectations
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The first Christmas of our marriage, the thing I wanted most was a warm bathrobe. We lived on the third floor of an old apartment building that trembled now and then as it settled further into its foundation. The floors tilted. The windows no longer fit their frames and cold winds blew through the gaps. I hinted “bathrobe” until I was sure the only surprise would be the color.

He gave me a parakeet.

I didn’t do much better at meeting expectations. He never said what he wanted. We didn’t have much money, but I emptied my bank account of its last dollars and happily bought my beloved a turtleneck ski sweater, a bathrobe, and a pair of hard-soled slippers.

He tried hard, but the pleasure I expected him to show did not happen. His wardrobe had been void of those things because he did not like those things--even though he said as he received them that he liked them. He liked them to live in his closet unused until they finally went to charity.

We survived the winter. I was heavy with child as summer neared and the thought of a warm robe rarely crossed my mind. At Christmas I pointed to the exact robe I wanted—and received it.

Expectations can be the “stick in the spokes,” the “pebble in the boot,” the “poison in the sauce” of life.

Other's Faults

A doctor friend used to say, “Every child is an abused child.” He meant that no one is ever born free of other’s faults and unreasonable expectations.

Good expectations are natural and healthy. They give direction and purpose in life. They are needed, just as we need physical laws, civil laws, moral laws. It’s when we give personal expectations too much weight that we get into trouble.

When we expect too much of ourselves, our mate, our children, and others—including members of the church we attend or used to attend—we find ourselves in trouble. Our minds go round and round on the issue, rehashing what should have been said or done. Depression, anger, hurt, discouragement cluster together. It’s where thoughts of suicide or worse can enter in if the mind is not strong enough or rational enough. When confronted with other’s expectations, evaluate them: are they valid? Try to fill them. Your job or marriage may depend on it. Are they immoral? Physically harmful? Notify authorities.

If it’s a personality or habit thing, like arranging towels on a rack, that bugs you, give it a number. The healthiest number is zero. All unwitting slights, failures, forgetfulness, brain lapses, and perceived insults on your part or the part of others should receive zero!

Stop keeping count; release the hurt or anger. Give it to Jesus and ask His help in moving on and letting go. Try to treat others and yourself as God treats us. His compassions are “new every morning!” (Lamentations 3:21-26). May ours be also.

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelinesScripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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