Several years ago I sat in a counselor’s office. I talked of anxiety, depression, never feeling good enough. She listened patiently, nodded a few times, then began scribbling on the notepad in front of her.
She held up a chart that looked a lot like this…
Then she said, “Holley, the red line represents your expectations of yourself and life in general. The other line represents your efforts and what you actually experience. You have such high expectations that it doesn’t matter how hard you try or what happens, it’s not going to be good enough.
Get rid of your expectations.”
Now, telling me to get rid of my expectations was a lot like telling me to stop eating chocolate or quit going to TJ Maxx. I was quite attached to them.
But the rest of the week, I couldn’t get that little chart out of my mind.
And I realized…
Expectations are just my version of the way things should be.
I tend to make them a lot more important than they really are. I tell myself that my expectations are how it has to be, how God wants it to be, how it must be for the world not to end.
But really, none of that is true.
When I heard Jackie Kendall speak about contentment, she said that she recalibrates her expectations often. She figures that 5 is average and so instead of expecting a 10, she lowers that to a 5. Then if it’s more, she’s pleasantly surprised. And if it’s less, she’s not too upset.
I’ve been trying this too and, y’all, it really does help.
Now I’ve got to say that for a perfectionist, 5 is not settling…it’s just getting it into the normal realm of what might actually be possible. It drops that red line down a few notches.
So we can start there.
AND THEN the real healing comes when we not only get a grip on our expectations but then hand them off to God.
Confession: This is the part that’s still really tough for me.
For example, I’m facing a situation in which I really want an answer. Right now.
But God keeps whispering to my heart…surrender.
So I’m learning (slowly) that instead of having expectations of ourselves or a situation, real security comes from placing our expectations in the One who loves us.
When we do, the results are off the charts.
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