Today’s challenge: Expectations. I loved this challenge. It helped me in many different ways. The idea was to analyze the expectations that occur inside your heart. Not only did I analyze my expectations but I thought about when things don’t go as expected. I can so quickly turn to belly aching and complaining. The author and narrator for this challenge displayed what it is like to have expectations while walking in Christ and how they can change. She spoke about her time as a missionary in Sudan and walked through the expectations she had before the trip and how they had changed during the trip. Before going to Sudan, she had anticipated what it would be like and it matched up very accurately. She expected it to be hot, hard, dusty, dry, resistant, and she expected God to be faithful to His word. Her expectations became truth when she arrived in Sudan. It was exactly as she expected. Then things began to change. She started to think, “Why am I here?” and “This isn’t what I signed up for.” Her heart grew weary in the struggle. After this, she heard a sermon while in Sudan titled What did you expect? It opened up her eyes. She then goes on to write about how even though we can expect a situation to go exactly as planned, we may have different expectations in our hearts. She expected it to be hot and difficult but she states she wasn’t expecting how much God was going to change her heart.
It made me think of all the difficult things I’ve been through. As I’m writing, I’m wondering, what expectations have I had? In relationships, with my family, with school, with my fellow students. What thoughts and ideas have already come into my head about how things should be? It makes me think about my expectations for myself as a follower of Christ. As a student of a well known bible school. As a daughter or as a friend. What do I expect of myself, others, and the situations I am in.
As I mull this over, I think about when I first came to Christ. I expected everything to be wonderful. I had these great beautiful moments with God, yet I had moments where all I wanted to do was die. I was so confused and started to ask myself, “What am I doing wrong? Why am I not happy all the time? I have God now, isn’t that supposed to fix everything? Why isn’t everything fixed already?” Understand, this may sound extreme, but I have discussed this with many other followers of Christ and they too have experienced seasons similar to this. So what were my expectations for myself when I first came to Christ? I wanted to be further along than I was. I wanted to understand who Christ was, I didn’t want to put in the work I just wanted to know already. I struggled to have a personal relationship with God because I never put the time in. I never wanted to pray to Him, talk to Him, or even read my bible because I was ashamed. I thought that He would judge me for who I am and I thought He would be angry I didn’t come to Him sooner. I expected hatred and anger from God. The results of my expectations lead me to looking to others for guidance, but in a negative way. I became too dependent on others, looking to them for answers to my problems. I began to put strain on all relationships around me. I was always irritable and frustrated. I woke up every day wanting to go back to bed, and I often did. Telling myself that it wasn’t worth it and that I wasn’t worth it. Looking back now, I see how far I have come and I am glad I went through what I went through. One thing does break my heart. During all of this questioning and confusion, I had a friend who stood by me and it put a lot of strain on our friendship. I am ashamed to say I was never truly myself around him, I was never my true self in Christ. Instead I became someone who is full of hate, anger, jealousy, and pain. He was one of the people I looked to for answers; answers that he couldn’t give me. I looked to him to satisfy my feelings of not being cared for, feeling unloved, and feeling lost in the world. I expected too much of him. The friendship suffered but if it wasn’t for the friendship ending, I would have never gotten to this point.
When I read from Jennifer Brogden’s excerpt in my Live|Dead Journal, my eyes were opened to the destruction of my expectations.
“Why was life such a struggle? Why couldn’t I be content and satisfied? Because I’d forgotten that it was my part just to obey, that Jesus is my just reward-that He can do as He sees fit with me, my family, and the work in Sudan…And only Jesus makes it worth it.”
Nothing rings truer in my mind than the quote above. I always forget to obey. God has the power to do whatever He pleases with my life. Now, I am slowly learning to loose control of people, myself, situations, and any preconceived expectations. I now need to ask God to help me let go. It is one of the hardest thing. I need to let go of any negative expectations of my family and friends.
I tried this on day five. I attempted to go into every situation with no expectations and what I found was this. I often over think things and I saw less of that. I usually have a hard time letting things go and I saw less of that. I usually form expectations of people I’m meeting for the first time and I saw less of that. As I lessened my expectations, the things that usually irritate me and bother me, I saw less of.
Letting God do what He chooses is not easy. I think I use the phrase not easy in almost every post but it’s because following Christ is not easy. Dedicating your life to Christ is not easy. Obeying Christ is not easy. God never said we wouldn’t suffer, He never said we were always going to be happy. Growing is learning how to push through the hard times even when you don’t want to. Growing is when you keep going even when you know things are going terribly. I am thankful for God because our relationship is always growing and He is always changing my heart for the better. This I believe. On to the next day.
God bless you and remember, you are beautifully made in the image of God.
Side Note: I am planning on running the Chicago marathon with Team World Vision, an organization that runs to raise money for clean water for kids in Africa. If you’d like to donate you can go to this link Donate Here. Besides that, prayer is always appreciated if you feel so inclined.