The Pitfalls of Expectations
“My way or the highway,” “Take it or Leave it,” “I did it my way” — there are several songs and mantras that come to mind. It’s a chant the world tells us to embrace - gaining empowerment to do it your way, no matter what anyone else tells you to do and creating your perfect life, and your perfect ways. To anyone who is a control freak, like me, it’s an easy pitfall to fall in.
“For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts,” Isaiah 55:9
Many look at that scripture as encouragement. It gives us hope and reassurance the Lord will work for good in our lives. I find it scary. It shakes my selfishness and stubbornness and reminds me, it’s not about me. It’s not about my plans, it’s not about my ways. It’s about Him. It’s as if the scripture threatens my hopes, dreams, and expectations.
Expectations can be dangerous. It takes our eyes off of God, and onto ourselves. It limits our mindset to earthly perimeters, forgetting how big our God is.
My mom has always said, “the word expectation is the worst word in the English language. When it doesn’t manifest the way we want, we are disappointed and upset and probably missed a blessing in the process.”
Holding strong to our expectations is a dangerous path. It's filled with pitfalls that keep us from worshipping and thanking our God for what He is doing.
Pitfall #1: Fairytale syndrome
I loved watching fairytales growing up. Snow White was my favorite, and still is to this day. Fairytales or rom-coms are not bad, but when you expect your life to turn out the same, things get tricky.
Growing up I always imagined what my future would hold. I would marry my prince charming right out of college, becoming that “perfect” couple. We would start a family. We would have that “perfect” home for bible studies, filling our home with laughter and the Lord. Our Christmas decorations would be immaculate, and we would be the envy of all who entered our home.
Ha, not even close to reality! None of those things took place. But, now older and — only by the grace of God — wiser, I am relieved the Lord saved me from my “fairytale” mindset.
"You can make plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:21
Hindsight is 20/20. If my expectations panned out, I would have missed so many needed blessings and lessons I had to learn. Now, as I sit next to my husband, I realize if “my way” happened, my husband and I would never have met. Nor, would I be able to handle some of the obstacles that lie before us. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Pitfall #2: Forgetting His Kingdom
Scripture tells us to put away our earthly desires and focus on His Kingdom. Concentrating only on our expectations takes away our purpose as Christ-followers.
“Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Expectations can lead to selfishness. If we focus only on us, we forget to tend, love, and care for those the Lord put in our path. We ignore His callings if it doesn’t line up with our desires. Don’t treat life like a career path, finding the next ladder step to climb to achieve that expectation.
Scripture reveals God-fearing men and women who allowed their expectations to rule over His callings. Jonah comes to mind. He ignored God’s calling to go to Nineveh. It didn’t line up with what he thought he should do, where he should go, and he allowed fear to rule. He ignored it for as long as he could until God used a whale to intervene. I don’t know about you, but I pray my stubbornness never gets to the point I am swallowed by a whale.
When we limit our lives to our expectations, we will always miss God’s bigger picture. We say “use me Lord,” but do we mean it? Are we willing to answer his call if it means going against our expectations? Are we afraid to let go of our expectations for His glory? Better yet, do we trust the Lord enough to give him our expectation? Are you so “in control” you don’t know how to let go?
Pitfall #3: Forgetting His Power
Letting go of control. It’s not easy to do. And for me, it’s one of the scariest things I have to do. I love being in control. I know as long as I have my hands on the wheel, I will take us where we need to go to achieve my expectations.
Sometimes I don’t trust the Lord. This is not easy to admit, and it brings tears to my eyes to even type. But why? I fear handing over my expectations will mean they will never come to fruition. I am afraid He will bless everyone else with my desires—but skip over me.
Does anyone else have that same fear? It’s a dangerous arrow the enemy has shot into my core. With each “fairytale” disappointment, the enemy added more arrows.
“For I know the Plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
He does have a plan for our lives, but it might not be the same course as you mapped out.
One of my deepest desires has always been to be a wife and a mom. Now that I am married, the “mom” part is still in progress. Due to circumstances, my husband and I are having to go through fertility treatments to have a child.
If you have never battled infertility, let me tell you, it is HARD, EXHAUSTING, and EMOTIONAL. The number of tears I have cried over the past few months are countless. The fear of it not working jumps every time there is something wrong with my cycle. I hear my doctors say, “You are on the wrong side of 35” and it punctures another wound in my heart.
I cry out to God, “Why? You didn’t bring me to my husband until later in life? Where did I go wrong? Why are you doing this to me?”
When we started this process, I sought His Truth. I realized he helped every famous woman of the Bible through infertility fears.
“By faith Abraham, even though he was past age — and Sarah herself was barren — was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who made the promise.” Hebrews 11:11-12
“Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.” Genesis 25:21
“And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:36-37
These women watched others receive the blessings of a child. I can see the painful tears they shed; begging and pleading with God to grant them the same blessing.
But, with every single one, God was faithful. It wasn’t how they expected it would go, it’s the way He planned it for His glory. No fertility doctor on this planet can compete with the One who created life with a breath.
Now, I am waiting for the same blessing. I am trying to control this situation as much as I can, and when things don’t go “perfect” I get upset. I was talking with my mom about it and she reminded me of God’s infinite power. She said, “Let Him be Him.” Let the Lord do His thing, even when we don’t think things are perfect. I know the Lord will be the only reason I do get pregnant, so I need to Let Him be Him. Let Him reveal His blessings.
If we look through scripture, the Lord loves to show his power despite our weakness.
“The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many people on your side. If I were to hand Midian over to them, the Israelites might claim credit for themselves rather than for me, thinking, ‘We saved ourselves.’” Judges 7:2
Defeating the Pitfalls
Our God is mighty. Our God is powerful. When we allow our expectations to rule, we limit what God can do. We shrink His abilities and rely only on ours. That’s a problem.
So how do we move forward? We pray daily the Lord remove our expectations and fill us with His expectations. Don’t fear about losing your desires. He placed them in your heart!
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart,” Psalm 37:4
“May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans,” Psalm 20:4
Releasing our expectations can be rewarding and relaxing. It opens the door for God to shine in our lives. He knows the big picture, we don’t. Plus, the Lord may use your ’disappointing expectations’ to help others see His glory.
Candi Laster is an Emmy award-winning producer and writer who has spent over a decade sharing stories on what is impacting local communities. She started writing professionally
after a mission trip to Africa when her parents said her letters revealed a passion and talent.
Her journey with Christ started at a young age when she attended a Tent Revival service. The Lord has taken her on several adventures, living in a new city every two years. Through each new move, the Lord always provided strong church groups and bible study groups to help teach and keep her grounded. After 10 years of writing professionally for different news organizations, the Lord stirred in her heart a passion to create devotionals to help other women see His glory.
Candi graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in Media and Journalism. She currently lives in a suburb of Kansas City, MO with her husband, cat and new puppy.