I sit across from a counselor who holds a yellow notebook in her hands. She draws a series of hills on a piece of paper. Ups and downs. “This is your life,” she says. I nod in agreement. Then she draws a single line far above the tops of the hills. “And these are your expectations.” She pauses and then offers, “If you want to be happier, you’ve got to lower your expectations.”
I drive home that night with her words echoing in my mind. At the time of that conversation I was a newlywed and I carried around a list of the ways I had to be perfect that seemed a mile long.
No matter how hard I tried, I never measured up. And I was so tired. So that night I asked God to help me start erasing the line of my expectations and replacing it with grace instead. Here’s the reality: You can’t try to make everything perfect and be happy at the same time because you will always be disappointed. By life. By people. By yourself.
My friend Mary Carver is writing about this in her 31 Day Series Giving Up on Fairy Tales and her new ebook Giving Up on Happily Ever After. She says,
“Let’s not waste our lives searching for perfection tied up with a fairy tale bow. Let’s choose, right now, to grab hold of our real lives, our true selves and embrace every second of this challenging, gritty, beautiful, messy reality that we have instead.”
“Happily Ever After” may not be possible. But “A Little Happier Today” still is when we let go of our expectations and rest in knowing we’re already loved.