Not So Great Expectations

Ever find yourself in the the frustration gap of someone else’s expectations? The frustration gap is the gap between expectations and reality.

As a pastor’s wife, I end up there quite often. Recently, I found myself right in the middle of one of those gaps. I realized the decisions I make in those gaps can lead me down a very dangerous path.

I try so hard to close the gap that every now and then,  I wake up not knowing exactly who I am.

It is an exhausting circle and it never works. While trying to meet the expectations of one person, it goes exactly against the expectations of another. I know it will not work, and then I am the one left the most frustrated and questioning everything in life. Why do I do it? I know the answer to that question! I am a recovering people pleaser. I think I am a pretty good person. I mean sure, I have a lot of issues but who doesn’t?  I try as hard as I can to please God, I love my family, I don’t commit crimes and  I help people. I could be worse! I think if people really knew me they would like who I was and wouldn’t put all of their expectations on me. It doesn’t work. I just end up doing things I wouldn’t normally do.

The first thing you have to come to terms with is the cold hard fact that you are not perfect! I think most of us know that about ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we have come to terms with it. Hence, we have people pleasing issues.   I have found myself not saying anything for fear of someone thinking I was saying the wrong thing. I have also found myself not doing something for fear of someone thinking I shouldn’t be doing it. Guess what?  We are going to mess up. None of us are perfect. Coming to terms with it yourself will free you from trying to make everyone think you do everything right. (Not that I have mastered this.)

Next, we have to know who we are. It is much easier to fall into the trap of doing what everyone else expects of you when you don’t even know who you are. It can be hard to swallow, but we all have limitations. There are some things I can’t do at all and some things that I am not very good at.  Those things exhaust me. For years I have tried to fake my way through those things and I always end up frustrated and exhausted. Why did I do those things? Others expected them of me. Now that I have a better understanding of my own limitations, it is easier for me to not fall into those traps. But, it takes being very honest with yourself and with others.

That leads me to honesty. We need to be honest about the things we know we can’t do, shouldn’t do or any other unrealistic expectations. Learning sooner than later that you won’t bend to the expectations of overbearing people will make them back off sooner. There are certain things as a pastor’s wife that I have been doing that have not been going too well lately. I have been doing them simply because of expectations. Some expectations from others and some even from myself. I had to get honest with myself and my husband.There were a lot of things that I was pretending to love but didn’t. This was doing some major damage.  Admitting your limitations is humbling. Breaking down that pride actually makes it easier to shake off unwanted expectations.

You can not control the expectations that others put on you, but you can control what you do with them. The best people to surround yourself with are the ones that enjoy you for who you are and not who they think you should be.

I know a lot of you are like me and struggle with this. I pray that you search the heart of God and become assured of your identity. You are His and He is yours. I am learning that bending towards the expectations of others is usually not in the same direction as having a heart bent towards God. The more my heart is bent towards Him, the less I feel the need to meet the expectations of others.

It will be hard at first, even harder if you have been living your life this way for a long time. Spend time with the Lord, seek after Him. His burden is light and the load of others’ expectations are far too heavy. Go ahead and put it down so you can search after the heart of God for your life.

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