Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Great Expectations

My Daughters,

As a follow up to my last letter, I wanted to touch on the subject of expectations.  When you were a little girl you expected your mom to fix your meals, wash your clothes. In general you expected your parents to take care of you and meet all your needs.  This is right and good.  As you begin to grow up you begin to do more and more of those things on your own, and expect less and less of your needs to be met by your parents.  But, on occasion, your mother might do something for you that you are in the habit of doing for yourself, like tidying your room for you or making your bed for example.   When this happens you are pleasantly surprised right?  You want to thank her and let her know how nice that was.

Now, what if your mother has usually made the bed for you still, even beyond when you could do it yourself, but for some reason she kept doing that for you each morning.  When you see your bed made, you hardly take notice, and you probably would not think to thank her for doing that for you.  And if one day she is unable to make your bed due to illness or forgetfulness, you might even be irritated and wonder what she was thinking to inconvenience you so.

I know this example is a little silly, but I wanted to make a point about expectations.  When we expect something and that expectation gets met, it gets little notice and it is more like just checking it off of a list of some sort.  And then, when our expectations are not met, it can lead to frustration, irritation, bitterness and even to a damaged relationships!

In a marriage, expectations can be deadly.  As little girls and young women we often dream of the kind of man we hope to marry.  We think about all the wonderful things he will do for us and how wonderful he will make us feel.  We dream of the home he will provide for us, the children he will help you raise and so many other things.  But you need to be careful as you build your image of your future husband.  Be very careful.  God has the perfect future spouse for you...he will be perfect for you, but he will not be perfect.  Your spouse will challenge you in many ways as God uses him to mold you into His image.  But your expectations can get in the way of that process.

I know all about this, because I did this.  I had high expectations of marriage and what a husband should and should not be.  For starters, I was looking for a tall, dark and handsome young man who would romantically sweep me off my feet, surrounding me with giddy feelings and stars in my eyes.  But God, in His infinite wisdom instead brought to me a sincere friend who loved me for who I was, flaws and all.    He wasn't tall or dark, but he was handsome...but 30% is not a passing grade in a classroom, right?  I overlooked God's best for me and sought elsewhere for my perfect husband...I almost married the wrong man - he was tall and dark , but not exceptionally handsome (60% is a passing grace, right?).  I had stars in my eyes and he was romantic, but those stars blinded me to fatal flaws in his character.  I am so thankful that God stepped into my life and removed those stars and showed me the path I was walking down before it was too late....a path that would most likely lead to a difficult marriage, abuse and falling away from my walk with Him.

The problem with my expectations was that I was using the world's standards as my own, and looking at outward appearances.  We have to be very careful that our expectations line up with God's best for us.  

My mindset of expectations didn't end there though.  Even though I followed God's direction and soon realized the more valuable character qualities in your father,  as well as seeing the blessing of having a dynamic friendship as the solid foundation on which to build a marriage, I still brought expectations into our marriage relationship that caused us many trying times.

For example, in my mind, husbands were expected to take out the trash for example.  I have no idea where I got this idea, but it was probably all those TV sitcoms I watched growing up!  So, by expecting my husband to take out the trash, I would not take notice of when it did get taken out.  But if it wasn't taken out when it needed to go, I would fume and fuss, get irritated, eventually take it out myself grumbling the whole way...and I would let him know that he had let me down, and in not so subtle ways.  There were many such expectations that I had, so there were many times that I would be irritated with him.

Now, let's put on the other shoe, so to speak.  Let's say that your future husband expects you to get up every morning and fix his breakfast and sack lunch for him...his mother always did this for his dad, so he expects it of you.  Every morning you do this for him and he eats the breakfast and grabs the lunch, wishes you a good day and heads out the door...after a few months you begin to feel neglected and un-appreciated as he never thanks you for your dedicated service to him.  And then when you are not feeling well and sleep in, your husband bangs around in the kitchen, grumbling about having to make his own breakfast and lunch...and maybe even making a snide comment in the evening about whether or not your would laze around in bed again tomorrow or not.  Does this make you want to get up with him the next day when he never says thank you and makes life miserable for you when you don't do it?  You can't win, right?

But now let's say you do not expect your husband to take out the trash.  When it's full, you take it out.  And then one day you are in the back yard and you look up to see your husband taking out the trash - WOW!  You are so thankful that he thought to do that for you!  You make a point of thanking him!  He get's husband brownie points for sure!  Or let's say that your husband never expects you to get up with him in the morning, and then one day you do - he is so thankful that you are there to share conversation (and possibly Bible time) with him, and he will exclaim over the wonderful breakfast...he might even brag to his co-workers about the exceptionally good lunch you prepared for him.  Would that response make you want to do it again for him?  Of course it would.

So remember, when you expect can and will be disappointed.  But when you don't expect something you just might be pleasantly surprised!

All my love,


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