Do you have great expectations? Recently I've come to realize my expectations are often misconceptions. A simple example might be expecting the "perfect" marriage. Married folks will fall over laughing. There's no such thing. Or planning the "perfect" wedding. Again, no way that's happening. In fact, all the things that go wrong in a wedding provide years of hilarious story telling.
What about the perfect life? The grave below is from 1913. The Japanese workers came to Montana at the turn of the century (1900) with the expectation of finding a better life. They expected to bring their families over one day or make enough money to go home rich. But those families never knew what happened to their men. The grandchildren and great grandchildren finally found their ancestors by a fluke. When the families were finally reunited, they had to stand by a grave, from almost a hundred years before, of a lost relative because no one knew how to read Japanese! And when the families looked for their men, they were listed in the capitol of Helena. The graves were actually in Missoula. The families didn't understand and neither did anyone in Montana. We all have misconceptions that "perfect" exists in one way or another.
Wait a minute! But those words, expectation and misconception, don't mean the same thing at all. Right! Let's talk about why great expectations are often huge misconceptions, not only for ourselves but others.
On the recent post, When It All Falls Apart!, we had a ton of comments. But one lovely lady stood out to me. She had excellent, valid questions about forgiveness and such loving concern for her sister's well-being. As I read through the comments, it struck me that I'd been guilty of holding expectations for those I love. Expectations that might really be misconceptions about that person's dreams, personality, ability, or any number of things. I was too busy putting my concept of the outcome over top of the other person's reality. (Like looking in Helena when the monument stood in Missoula. The "X" was over 100 miles in the wrong direction on the map.) I couldn't see their dream or idea through my misconception. Get it?
As parents, we have great expectations for our kids. Then we find out they have dreams of their own. The child we expected to become the Olympian just likes sports for fun, the employee we expected to succeed turns out not to fit the position, the book we knew would be a best seller turns out to be written for personal growth. Big misconceptions because those expectations weren't suited to the right person or project. Nothing was wrong. We just had the wrong picture in mind. Once we let go of our idea, maybe even stop pushing that idea on the other person, they become free to go in the way they should go. The way God had planned from the very beginning. Suddenly all the pieces fall into place and the picture forms a completely different design. And it's much more beautiful and intricate than my expectation could imagine.
Is it possible we have expectations for those we love that might hold them back or act as stumbling blocks to the path God has for them?
Has someone else had an expectation for you that really hampered your ability to go after a dream?
Have you pushed someone you love in a direction you regret?
Here's my example of an expectation that was really a misconception of me, my talents, and dreams:
I wasn't that bad at my job. But I wasn't excelling either. I felt trapped and often miserable. I hated working with numbers and finances. I saw myself buried with a tombstone that read, She didn't matter. When I quit working in our family business, I began to blossom into the real me. My sense of well-being soared. My accomplishments became intensely satisfying. But it really threw my family for a loop. They expected me to do what I'd always been doing. It took months for the dust to settle. I wasn't leaving my family. I was finding the path God intended for me. The path covered in brambles and in disrepair because I'd tried to fit into someone else's expectation for me. I'd stumbled along the wrong path for years. Now my family sees me as a much more fulfilled and joyous person running on a newly paved road in the right direction. I hope one day my tombstone will have something much more significant on it, Well done thou good and faithful servant!
Can you relate?