Expectations (and disappointments…)

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” (Psalms 118:8, RSV)

I read verses like this and wholeheartedly agree – with my mind, at least. I know that all my expectation should be from God alone: the God who made me, who knows me better than I know myself, who loves me and who went to extraordinary lengths to secure my rescue from the snare of sin, death and hell. Yet knowing and believing that truth doesn’t necessarily translate into being actualized in my life. It seems that, even though I know that everyone (even the people who love me and have the very best intentions) will inevitably disappoint me, I continue to find myself expecting things from them that I feel like I need or want – things I think they “ought” to provide for me.

When that happens, I have several options.

I can try (sort of like trying to drive a car from the back seat) to “make” the other person do what I want. Maybe I even express my demands, angrily heaping guilt on them, eliciting an angry or defensive response in return. This seldom works well.

I can conclude in my mind that the person who’s disappointed me doesn’t really love me, and certainly doesn’t understand me. Maybe I’ll even distance myself from him or her a little, thinking to protect myself from further hurt. Then, the very one I want to be close to, I push away.

I can decide that whatever it was that I was wanting so much is just plain not available. I can fall into self-pity, and distract myself from my emotional wounds by indulging in my favorite current addiction, whatever that might be. I can even fall into depression.

I can go on social media, complaining to friends, trying to soothe my pain by gathering other voices to agree with my judgement about the failures of the person who’s disappointed me. Strength in numbers perhaps? I still don’t have what I want.

There are probably other possibilities, but the one I think is the best one is this: to have the courage to hurt in front of God; to honestly pour my heart out to him, knowing that he loves me, but knowing too that I must be willing to relinquish my demands and defer to his wisdom. I must be willing to say, as Jesus did in Gethsemane, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

That thing – whatever it is, and however much it seems entirely reasonable to me to desire it – is an idol in my heart. I have forgotten for a moment (or more) that I am not God. I actually don’t know what’s best for me much of the time. I don’t know the future, nor the things that God has planned for the rest of my life. Someone Else does know, and in his own time and in his own way, he will fulfill the plans he has in mind for me. My job is to trust him, and to honor him in my waiting.

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