Expectations

So I’ve gotten a bit off-track with my blogging. I think I was supposed to post about my people epiphany several days ago, but I got sidetracked by Dancing with the Stars and the sudden realization that life is an adventure, baby. And what an adventure it is! Just this morning I was thinking back over the last several months and it struck me that our everyday existence is nothing if not spectacular. Right before lunch I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Pulitzer prize winning author Marilynne Robinson… A few weeks ago Shane Claiborne spent a few days at our house… Right before Christmas my seven-year-old son learned to recite the entire Christmas story out of Luke 2… Last night my baby cried in my arms as he struggled through the advent of his first tooth… Life is full of surprise and beauty and wonder. How blessed are we!

But, enough of my wide-eyed gawking at the world. Today, as I promised, I’m going to try to assemble my thoughts on how we are too hard on each other. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m no expert. These are just my thoughts and ideas as I pray and study and talk-talk-talk with friends and family. Join the conversation!

A few posts ago I admitted that I’m a perfectionist. That I’m hard on myself and that I have pretty high expectations for Nicole Lynn Baart. And though I reserve my harshest critique for myself, I’d be a big, fat liar if I denied that some of those expectations get passed on to the people around me. I wish I could say I’m a paragon of patience and understanding, but the truth is I can be anything but. Sad, isn’t it? But I don’t think I’m alone. Considering my own experiences at the butt end of people’s misguided expectations, I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all prone to be too hard on each other. And I think our shortcomings in this area can be categorized in two different ways.

Number 1: Expectations I think when we consider our unrealistic expectations of each other, we have to categorize them as things that we want other people to do. We expect a phone call, a meal, an offer to take our children, a birthday card, a big hug, a fill-in-the-blank. We expect people to be on time, to rise to the occasion, to do the job the way that we would do it. Like it or not, there are certain things that we consider to be “givens.” The problem is, we’re the only one with access to our own personal checklist of “the way things should be.” My solution? Lower my expectations. If I’m supposed to have coffee with a friend at 10, I try to give her a wide window of grace and won’t start getting antsy until 10:15 or later. I know she loves me and our time together is as meaningful to her as it is to me. But I don’t know what her morning has held: spilled milk, a dirty diaper as she’s walking out the door, a last-minute phone call that she has to take… Who knows? What I do know is that I can control my reaction, and preserve our relationship in the midst of potential frustration.

Wednesday I’ll deal with the second part of this equation: assumptions. But for now, I’d love to hear from you. What unrealistic expectation do you cling to? Do you dare to share a time that you clung to that expectation at the expense of a relationship? Or vise versa–Can you think of a time when you had to shoulder the burden of another person’s expectations?

simplicity

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