“Expectation is the quickest way to disappointment.”
The first time I encountered the painful truth of disappointment, I was a young child. Growing up, I quickly learned that when you went to the grocery store with Mom, you sure didn’t ask for anything because you know you weren’t going to get anything, and there was no reason to ask. “Mom, can I……..” and then you got THE LOOK. You know the look I’m talking about, just kinda stops you in your tracks. You just shut your mouth and kept on walking. And then, I found myself disappointed in other situations as well. I remember one time we had been told that we were going to go to the beach, and I was so excited! I had packed up all my things, eagerly anticipating the trip to one of the best places ever! It was gonna be great! My parents, my sister and I going somewhere we rarely get to go. So I got up that morning, and I walked into the living room, and everyone was asleep. Okay, I guess they’ll sleep in a little more. So I waited. And I waited. It’s almost noon, and I walk in there, and asked my Dad if we were still going, and he said no. I still remember the crushing disappointment as I realized that what I had been looking forward to was not going to happen.
Through a vicious cycle of dysfunctional relationships and boyfriends, I found myself disappointed time after time. After some time, I began to realize that it was what I was expecting from them that was leading me to being disappointed. If I didn’t expect anything from them, I could never be disappointed right? So yeah. This refusal of expectation thus also led into my spiritual life, where I also figured that I would most likely expect too much from God and be disappointed again.
It was through CR that I found out that I had this whole expectation thing all wrong. It wasn’t necessarily what I was expecting that was leading me to feelings of disappointment, it was who I was expecting things from. My expectations of others was unhealthy, and stemmed from my inner need to control those people. What was I expecting from those other people? Was I expecting them to fix me? Was I expecting them to fill the empty hole that was left in my heart? Was I expecting them to to essentially be God?
The Serenity Prayer says that we are to take, as Jesus did, this sinful world AS IT IS, NOT AS I WOULD HAVE IT. So, in my realm, my expectations were saying that I was not accepting the world as it is, I was accepting the world as I wanted it to be, as I thought it should be. In my mental health recovery, I cannot expect other people to fix me, as that is not their responsibility. I cannot expect other people to always be there on-call even at 4am in the morning, I have to respect their boundaries. I cannot expect other people to be able to read my mind, I have to take responsibility to reach out to others and honestly, truthfully let them know what’s going on and how I feel. I cannot expect that my psychiatrist is going to know exactly what combination of medications that I need, as it is trial and error, and it is going to take time, patience, and honest consistency to continue to coordinate care to find the right combo for my specific needs. I cannot expect that it will only take a few sessions with a counselor to process a lifetime of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, just like it took a process to get to where I am, it is going to take a process to get to where I am going.
The real question is, what am I expecting of God? What am I expecting of myself? If expectations are what I am seeking, then what does the Bible say?
Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”
Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Proverbs 23:17-18 “Don’t envy sinners but always continue to fear the Lord. You will be rewarded for this; Your hope will not be disappointed.”
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours…”
…and perhaps one of my favorites…
Hosea 2:15 “God is the only one who can make a valley of trouble a door of hope.”
Where do your expectations lie?
National CR Mental Health Team X-Factor