I went to a fast food restaurant this evening with my three kids. It had been a very long day, I had a headache, and I was starving. We waited quite a while before anyone even approached the counter to take our order. Of the two employees in the restaurant, only one of them was working. The other lolligagged around and didn’t offer to pick up the slack. We finally got our drink cups and realized we’d only received three cups. As I checked the receipt, I’d realized that they had missed one of the drinks. I was trying to remain patient, so I pulled some more cash out of my purse to purchase the missed drink. Unfortunately, no one was willing to come up and take the order for that either.
When our food was finally handed over to us on the tray, I realized that my entire dinner was missing in addition to the missing drink. The employee who didn’t seem the least bit interested in working offered to make it right and ring up the missing items for me. By this time, I was so frustrated that I no longer wanted any of the missing items. My son took my drink, and I chose to eat nothing. My reasoning for that was based on “the principle” of the whole scenario. Okay, okay, so I am just a little stubborn. But, only a little (cough, cough, shhhh!).
Now that I sit with my tummy rumbling from lack of food today, and the headache I had earlier still pounding from not eating, I have a different perspective. Today I learned a valuable lesson on expectations. Before I even entered the restaurant, I had a self-defined set of expectations. I had needs that I wanted filled, and I had my own version of how this would take place. BUT, (and here’s what I learned today), since I had preset my expectations to meet what I felt was important and didn’t get them exactly that way, I refused to accept anything less than what I wanted. I wanted it how I wanted it, when I wanted it, and how I wanted it. Since it didn’t meet the criteria I wanted, I refused it altogether.
So, here’s where I applied this little lesson. I knew it meant something, but I didn’t know what. I have had other expectations in my life, in which many of my needs and wants have been neglected. Some of these life areas have not happened the way I determined they would. And, I can be honest and say that I’ve had some expectations lately that I felt were important to me that have seemed to have gone by the wayside. What is important to me is not necessarily important to another. But, does that mean that I should turn and walk away from it? Should I refuse it altogether? Is it more of a process of give and take to make sure that everyone involved has some of their expectations met to keep them happy? And, if I love someone, shouldn’t it be more important to me that their expectations are met than my own by giving more than receiving? Tonight’s dinner mishap has certainly got me asking some in-depth questions that I plan on answering for myself.
The most important part of this whole scenario occurred when I asked myself what my expectations are when I expect something of God. What if I had asked God for something in my prayers? What would I be expecting? And, would my expectations be worldly and me focused?
I’m sure they would be the more I think about this. It is so natural for us to build our own outcomes and base our personal expectations on them. But, I believe we could easily change our “me” focused expectations by asking what God’s expectations are of us, and to seek His guidance. I am sure we wouldn’t be quite as stubborn, and we wouldn’t refuse what He provides us with even when they are not quite what we expected to receive. Even in times when we don’t get exactly what we desire, need, or request from someone, there may be a life lesson in that. And, that could be exactly what He expected us to learn.
When have you had a pre-defined set of expectations? Was there disappointment or did it turn out better than you expected? Now that this has you thinking, what do you think of your general expectations regarding your life, your relationships, and your spirituality?