What should you do when those close to you don’t meet your perfectly reasonable expectations? Isn’t it pure frustration when you have communicated your reasonable expectation in a perfectly reasonable way and those close to you just don’t seem to even care what your expectations are.
Perhaps those “close to you” are in your extended family, your marriage, your church or workplace. How do you handle the disappointment?
Perhaps you are wrestling with these questions:
- Should I just lower my expectations to avoid disappointment?
- Is my anger justifiable?
- Maybe I should just stop caring?
- Is what I want reasonable or even realistic?
In marriage, it might sound like “Why should I have to settle? He should be a better husband; I know he’s capable. He just doesn’t want to. He’s proved it over and over again. He just doesn’t care. Shouldn’t I expect him to act like the Christian he claims to be?”
In church, it can sound like “Church people are the worst. They care more about me coming than they care about me as a person. Why won’t the leaders do something to fix this? I bet if I don’t come, no one will even notice.”
In our extended families, it might sound like, “I’m not going to another thanksgiving dinner with all that drama. I need space because I don’t trust you to act in a safe way towards me.”
What do you think: Is it wrong to lower your expectations?
God’s Word gives us five principles that can help us shape a healthy response. If you are stuck in a cycle of dashed dreams and lowered expectations, your faith can help you deal more effectively with the cycle you are facing.
Take a few moments to understand and embrace these five truths.
1. Be confident in the one who will never fail you.
Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The same God who met you in your time of greatest need is still with you now.
2. Be confident that you have what you need in Christ.
Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
The true needs we have in our greatest disappointments can be found in Christ. He can make up any deficit and give you the peace, satisfaction, and security not found in our human relationships. Pursue him and he will provide what you need.
3. Be confident that it is ok to ask for help.
2 Corinthians 13:11 – “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
God doesn’t expect us to solve all of our problems ourselves. We experience comfort from others who listen, understand, and share wisdom- so pursue those types of relationships. Be humble enough to ask for help and perspective from those who have greater experience than you in the journey you are walking. God blesses this humility and it will often help you get unstuck.
4. Be confident that change is possible, even though it’s often slow & hard.
Ephesians 4:1–2 – “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
It’s telling that unity requires patience and sacrificial love. We can badger, belittle, and distance from those who disappointment us, but God is at work even when we don’t see him. It’s not your job to change others, trust God to do his work.
5. Be confident that grace is never a waste of time.
1 Corinthians 15:10–11 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”
You would not be who you are without the extravagant grace of God. You may have greater insight, self-control, or relational skills than another, but this is only because of God’s grace. When we remain humble and grateful, we respond to disappointments more easily. Your grace is never wasted. Even if it doesn’t change the other person for the better, it changes you for the better!
Each week, many people walk into BCC and unpack disappointments and difficulties. We love the opportunities to listen to so many brave souls who seek to honor God despite the disappointment and difficulty. Don’t give up!