Great Expectations!

[Note: It’s debatable, but is the soon coming of the 1000th Interruption a sign of the end times?]

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

We all bring expectations into our relationships. Our expectations are often developed from what happened or didn’t happen in previous relationships.  

In marriage, we might think, “I expect my spouse to pay the bills and clean the house. That’s what my father did.” When attending a new church, we might say, “My former church only played Celtic worship songs accompanied by an organ, bagpipes, and flutes.”

HHHHMMMHHM . . . some expectations can be okay and some ridiculous.

The point of successful expectations is that we agree upon them in advance.

Often, we hold our relationships and other social interactions hostage to what we think they should be. With no prior agreement with others about our expectations – they can’t know what’s expected of them. 

Yet, we get upset when they don’t live up to our unspoken desires. I’ve found two helpful actions in dealing with our great expectations of others . . . 

First:  Discuss, discuss, discuss, then — agree, agree, agree — then . . .  

Second:  Forgive, forgive, forgive! We all, sooner or later, fail the expectations of others.

Below is an OGV translation of a quote on expectations by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, Life Together . . .  

God wants us to talk about expectations.

Expectations can be proud and pretentious. Those who fashion ideals of a community or others demand that they be realized by God and by others. They enter relationships with expectations, set them up as a law, and then judge others accordingly. They act as if they are the center of the relationship, as if their expectations bind everyone together.

And when things do not go their way, they call the effort a failure, becoming first an accuser of the church, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of themselves.

Expectations that are communicated and agreed upon form the basis of all relationships. 

God makes promises to us that we expect to be fulfilled. Marriage vows have commitments not to be broken. Some expectations can be silent, as friendships have ties that bind, but both parties understand the relationship.

What are our expectations of friends, family, and church? Are they commitments of unity or just what we desire? Do we get angry, sullen, or use other forms of manipulation when someone doesn’t live up to our expectations?

Developing commitments through healthy expectations and giving grace in failure makes relationships viable and exciting. We grow closer to one another by keeping vows and confessing brokenness.

Love is mercy. Our desires should result in peace, not conflict.

Great expectations are fine – just stay humble – making sure that we serve more than we expect.

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