Balance Part 6: Four Ways to Handle Unmet Expectations

Bustling into the room, she knew today was the day! All her kids under one roof again – her joy bubbled up in expectation of a great reunion. Her happy heart anticipated a house full of laughter during this long-awaited homecoming.

Aromas of the prepared feast wafted in the air. She had planned the ideal day to share with those she loved most dear. Her phone chirped with an incoming text message interrupting her musing of things to come.

“Sorry mom. Can’t make it, Kate’s sick.”

Disheartened, she tried to adjust to this new scenario.

When her guests arrived, she discovered contention between her sons over an unresolved argument that brewed underneath the surface. Her effervescent anticipation dwindled in the tension.

Like a vapor drifting into the air, her perfect day slipped through her fingers. Circumstances moved out of her control, decimating her plans, unraveling them without her ability to repair them. This was not what she expected.

Can you relate? Have you experienced unmet expectations that have nothing to do with your own choices? We expect good reports from the doctor, civil behavior from other people, and even our dreams to be fulfilled, but disappointment lurks to dash our hopes through unmet expectations. Our hearts hurt as we cry out thoughts like “is it too much to ask?”

Interrupted by multiple crises our comfortable lives can feel like a series of unmet expectations. This plays on our emotional well-being, inexplicably driving us to sadness, anxiety, or loneliness.

How do we live balanced lives when unanswered desires plague us?

  1. Communicate well: Even in day-to-day events, express your expectations to others. Not in a demanding way but in an informative way. Sometimes our expectations are not met because other people in our life simply don’t know what we need or want. Find ways to state your desires that communicate to those around you what is important to you.
  2. Release obligation: Once you communicate your expectations it is important to let others know they are not obligated to meet your requests. Letting them know what you want isn’t a guarantee that your desires are fulfilled. We cannot force others to meet our needs.
  3. Be flexible: Our loved ones usually have the best of intensions but sometimes things just don’t work out. Recognize their effort and feel the love in the attempts, even when they miss the mark. When other’s behavior is offensive, however, address the issue and work toward forgiveness. As we discussed in April, ( A life of Forgiveness) that may take time, but it is always our goal. Be unoffendable.
  4. Live in the freedom that Jesus promises. Remember this promise:

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Don’t blame your disappointment on others. It is true that sometimes people let us down, but this gives us opportunity to extend mercy and grace in the freedom we find in Jesus.

Looking forward to fun adventures is a joyful part of life. Learning to hold our expectations loosely allows us to enjoy the beautiful moments and walk with grace through the disappointments as well.

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