One of my most favorite quotes I’ve ever heard was born out of everything that should not make sense, but until you live out the power of words, they will just fall on ears not ready to hear. Live them, and the words suddenly define your life, and add another line to your story.
“It is doubtful that God can bless (use) a man greatly until until He has hurt him deeply.” A.W. Tozer
No one ever sets out to be hurt. Most of my life, I flew so far under the radar that I evaded hurt just by keeping entirely to myself. You’ll find if you stay out of everyone’s way, do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll generally avoid too much trouble. Be invisible and you don’t get in the way of anyone. No one can stay invisible forever, though, and really…we wouldn’t want to stay that way.
These days, on the whole, it seems near to impossible to avoid hurt in a sea of opinions. We’ve become people more known for what we are against than what we are for. Make yourself visible in any way, be it standing out for a worthy job performance, confident in any way, how you dress, posting your opinion, and on and on…well, you’re probably going to be the object of criticism. We’re in a world looking for the wrong, bent on disrespect, and we (me, myself and I) are the smartest people we know. I remember hearing the saying growing up, “We can’t win for losing.” No truer words could capture what it’s like to just try and live these days.
Ever feel like you are living a “headed for failure” life? Can’t do anything right, every turn is a dead end, and your neighbor seems to be headed everywhere BUT the wrong way? I can easily feel that way when my eyes focus on what everyone else “thinks” I ought to be doing. Whether said or unsaid, expectations of others rarely land us in the “winner” lane. In a dog eat dog culture, expectations do not often take on the appearance of others dreaming big dreams for us. Expectations often take on a negative spin, believing the absolute worst in people, rather than the best.
When the expectations others put upon us are greater than the ones they put on themselves, there are no winners.
Having great expectations for ourselves is a great thing. It’s sets a goal before us for which we can aim. We can even set healthy expectations for others, and do so when we parent children, set a tone for school and the workplace, and even as a church. Expectation leads to anticipation of what’s to come. When in the context of the goal being to move forward, expectation is a pretty awesome thing! When expectations are unhealthy, the impossible is demanded out of people that are not perfect, mind-reading skills are required, and the focus on what others aren’t doing is more important than looking in the mirror to realize what we are not doing. Suddenly our environment is defined by things like “You don’t do this right,” or “You walked right past me and didn’t speak,” and a “Your sin is greater than mine” mentality. We would never admit that the last part of that sentence is something we would actually say, but our actions would definitely show that we expect people are so much worse than we are that, of course, their sin is, too. See why we can’t win for losing? Winning will only happen when we shift the expectations we have squarely back on ourselves. Expect as much out of ourselves as we do anyone else, there will be no time to focus on what others should be doing that they are not. Expect as much out of ourselves with a heart and life living for an audience of One, we’ll live lives that expect what He expects, and that is never the worst of anyone or anything. He is for me. He is for you. His only expectation is that we live holy lives, worthy of the calling He has placed on us – to become what He’s created us to be.
Expectations that find their beginning in love will result in lives that can’t lose for winning!
Do you find yourself believing the absolute worst of people? I have, if I’m honest. When trust in others is at stake it’s oddly easier to believe the worst because the hurt may be less. It sets a low bar with low expectation. How much life are we sucking out of those around us when we expect the very worst of them because we’ve bought into the lie that they probably believe the worst of us? It’s a vicious cycle that only ends when someone decides to be a cycle breaker! Is it worth it to stop and think that maybe no one is out to get you at all, that expectations don’t have to take on the appearance of their synonym “assumption”? That’s right. Look it up. Expectation will assume! I’ve written more blogs and articles about the harm of assumption than probably anything because I daily witness the damage it always does. I’ve done it and I’ve been a victim of it, and either way I’ve not one time felt good about myself in any way!
Today, can we expect the best and see where that takes us? Can we make amends with those we’ve unfairly controlled with our lofty expectations? Let’s plant our expectations in a soil that produces fruit and not weeds. Be for your life reflecting His glory. Be a life that is FOR His glory to shine on another. Why would you want to expect anything less?