I recently had reason to consider the role of expectation in life. It’s not something I typically ponder like grace or faith or wisdom or creativity. But I had a chance to see it in a new way, and thought I’d share that here.
First, let’s look at the simple meaning of the word from Merriam Webster.
- a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen
- a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be
Expectation begins with belief and engenders feelings.
We all have expectations, some as basic as the sun will rise. Going through each day, I wonder if it’s possible for our minds not to preconceive what is likely to happen in a situation and to have a feeling about how good, bad, or successful it will be. I know I’m wired that way, and I wouldn’t typically think that’s a problem. But this statement got me thinking:
Expectations are resentments in the making.
The problem with expectation is what happens when it isn’t met. If we expect people to behave a certain way and they don’t, we’ll have an emotional reaction. Depending on the expectation—whether of good or bad—the result could be disappointment or relief, satisfaction or anger.
For instance, the Israelites expected the Messiah to conquer, restore, and reign. Jesus did not meet those expectations, and the Sanhedrin responded with raging cries for crucifixion.
When we create, we do so with the expectation that something good will come of it. Some success, remuneration, acclaim, a chance to touch, reach, entertain, challenge, and encourage. But if this doesn’t happen to the degree we expected, the seeds of resentment are often sown.
To whatever we do, whether writing, working, interacting, loving, communicating etc., we bring human expectations. These form the core of resentment if we can’t surrender them when they aren’t met. So the first step in defusing expectation is surrender. We might anticipate a result, but if it doesn’t happen, how we respond is the key.
If our expectation is grounded in Christ our response will be likewise. Through grace, expectation can become a blessed thing. This is expectant faith. Praying, creating, working, or interacting with grace-filled expectation calls and allows us to react with joy and acceptance whatever the result may be.
It’s not exactly easy, but I’m finding it a worthy challenge to stop expecting others to meet my belief and feelings about how they should be or do something. Now if I can just extend that to myself!
So what are the expectations that might lead to resentment in your lives? And how joyful it might be to surrender them to Christ with expectant faith that grace is sufficient in this as in all.