Someone is unhappy about a gift you gave or your offer of kindness and the response does not meet what you expected.

There is no doubt: unfulfilled and unspoken expectations can impact our experiences and relationships. This is especially true with those closest to us. 

Have you ever realized you were making expectations of others or yourself? When we can learn to surrender our expectations, we can gain grace, peace and contentment.

Our expectations of others, others’ expectations of us, our expectations of God, and even our expectations of ourselves are quite often unspoken. This is like playing a game but no one knows or is given the rules.

Trying to live up to expectations, whether unmet or unspoken, is exhausting.

The reason for this is that expectations are a subtle form of control. 

And control is the antithesis of surrender.

Surrender is to cease from resistance.

Resistance is a refusal to accept or comply with something.

Maybe with the limitations someone else has on meeting my expectations.

So, I try to control this or them by the way I treat them, usually withdrawal or anger. 

After all, if they would just 'straighten up and fly right', then I would be okay because my expections of them could all be met according to what is suitable for me. 

Wait, what did you say? What's in it for them?

Hmmmm, but they should know what I need.... after all, we've been married for 20 years, she gave birth to me, I've been running this business since he was knee-high to a grasshopper....

In creating expectations for others, God, and ourselves, we are unconsciously setting the standard that we will only be happy, satisfied, or content if or when such expectations are met. 

What’s even worse is when our expectations remain unspoken. 

That’s like asking someone what they would like to eat for dinner and hoping you guessed right out of the billion possibilities that exist!

We really have two feasible options: to share our unspoken expectations with others so they are known (although this still doesn’t guarantee that our expectations will be met by others) or to forego our desire to control, and release others, God, and ourselves from the tyranny of our expectations.

By not recognizing and acknowledging our expectations, we set ourselves up for disappointment, frustration, and at times even despair. 

And we can usher in estranged relationships with those we care deeply about.

By becoming aware of our spoken stated or unspoken unstated expectations, we can then make a conscious decision regarding what is first reasonable and second necessary in our minds. We can exchange unspoken expectations for peace and contentment.

I'm convinced that when I've had unspoken expectations of others, God, or even, myself, it sets me up to feel hurt or angry, regretful, disappointed or sad.

Once I realized I was making expectations of others and myself, and that others could not live up to my unspoken or, at times even my spoken, expectations of them, then I could make the conscious decision to let go and surrender to what would be. By surrendering, I gave myself and others the freedom to enjoy whatever came our way.

And this is the path that brought more joy for me in my relationships..... 

And, I'm certain it provided more joy for others who I let off the hook for my unspoken expectations. 

I also discovered that I was much more able to give myself grace as well. 

And with that grace, came peace and contentment.

Jesus was no stranger to folks holding unspoken expectations of Him. 

The Pharisees and religious leaders 'expected' their 'King of the Jews' to come in a less-lowly fashion as He entered the earthly realm to deliver His people. 

Jesus didn't fit their bill of how their king was to be resplendent is all their 'expected' glory when He came by  way of birth in a manger.

He didn't play by their rules. He didn't measure up in their eyes. They sought to ridicule, mock and shame Him.

Have you ever felt this way? 

Have you held nothing but a desire for good in your heart for another.... friend, spouse, parent, siblings, neighbors, only to have them think the worst of you? 

Instead of seeing your gestures of goodwill toward them, what you said or offered fell short of their unspoken request (demand) for what they want or need from you.

In essence, you were weighed and found wanting.

And the sad part, is that since their expectations were likely not even communicated to you, and you simply had no way of knowing and no recourse.

Jesus must have felt the same when He stood before Pontius Pilate listening to the Jews' accusations of Him. 

Ironically, Pilate found no guilt in Jesus.

Jesus was only given the sentence to be crucified because it was time for Passover and Roman custom allowed for a known and condemned criminal to be released and another accepted in their place. 

So Jesus, became the sacrificial lamb for me.... for all that I have done wrong. 

He became my eternal hope that will never fade away.

He was 'condemned' so I could be forgiven.

And guess what, now God wants me to offer that kind of love and forgiveness.... actually, because it is what sets me free.

I may not ever be forgiven for all the ways and means I've tried or failed to try by family or friends in this life. 

I may be ostrasized, criticised and isolated from some that I have only wanted the best for.

Thankfully, in my case, God looks at my heart and sees my sincere hope to only offer love, light and encouragement for others. And to hopefully, learn to love as I have been loved. 

And that counts, even if another is unable to receive it in the way it is intended.

Even in the study of the 5 Love Languages.... I could add a few, but that is a post for another day .... We can only give what we have been given and have been willing to receive.

You read that right... we must be willing to receive what we are offered. 

To you, what I bring may seem small.... but to me, it may be all I understand and come from a deep place and a heart that desires to be pure.

Compared to your best, it may be sorely lacking..... and while, I accept my limitations, my desire is never to disappoint. (Think of the little drummer boy.... his gift brought the smile of acceptance from the Christ Child, as the song goes).

And He accepts me and you.... that only makes me love Him more.

He knows my heart.... when no one else can.

And it helps me to also accept my limitations when I am unable to meet the unspoken expectations of others.

Only good can come from all the ways I've failed or other's have perceived me as failing. The good comes because like my mom always would say when my life was hurting, "You'll either get the win or the lesson".

I've definitely decided that, while as a child lessons came first and then the test; yet, as an adult most often, I am given the test and then I get the lesson.

And the lesson still helps me to have a win, however small it may appear. It's nonetheless a win and worthy of me celebrating what I've learned and how I will grow through it.

When we've done our best, we know what His 'well done' feels like down deep in our soul. And that is enough.

Regardless of what others may think or say....

Until next time...

Sheri xo

Sheri Geyer is a Boundaries Coach for Women

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