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Maybe It’s Time to Adjust Our Expectations
Today, I want to tell you about the funniest little girl.
Her name was Mackenzie.
She and my daughter were best buddies, and both were in first grade.
Every afternoon after school, Mackenzie would come over to our house or Emily would go to her house.
Whoever traveled to the other’s house would bring all of their toys with them.
The girls were obsessed with these little toys called Polly Pockets.
They were miniature dolls with clothes, furniture, and animals.
The favorite activity of McKenzie and my daughter Emily was to set up little villages or towns with all of their dolls and animals and clothes and houses.
The setting up portion would sometimes take an hour or more to get things as they wanted them.
Then they would begin to play.
Troubles Would Begin
Often, after playing for a little while, the girls would get into an argument because they didn’t like the way the other one was playing.
On more than one occasion, I remember Mackenzie, the cutest little brunette who stood less than three feet tall, stomping down the steps in our house.
She would announce it to me and anyone else who was listening,
“I’m not having fun anymore.
I’m taking my toys and going home.”
Her mother lived right behind us, so I would call her mom and say, “The girls got into it again. Mackenzie’s on her way home.”
Most of Us Can Relate; We Must Adjust Our Expectations.
Although most of us are grown now (and Mackenzie is as well) …
There are still days when we, as women especially, want to take our toys and go home.
We don’t like the way other people are playing.
We don’t like the way they are setting up things.
We don’t appreciate their choices or their decisions or the way they are treating us.
These things can often lead us to become sad, discouraged, disappointed, and even sometimes depressed.
So, What Can We Do to Adjust Our Expectations?
How can we, as women, begin to adjust our expectations so we’re not always feeling discouraged?
A friend recently asked me this, so I thought I’d answer the question.
For, I believe honestly that we go through life either being constantly discouraged over something someone did or didn’t do, or we learn to rise above and find hope.
We either live UNDER the weight of our hurts or we learn to walk through them with joy and hope despite the hurt.
It’s one or the other.
We either live in discouragement or we can learn to cope with our feelings.
However… It’s very hard to do both!
How Can You and I Rise Above Today?
I want to give you three ways to adjust your expectations so that you can enjoy your life more.
In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul tells us:
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.
I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
As women, we can learn to cultivate more contentment in our lives and get our joy back!
Here Are Three Ways to Adjust Our Expectations
These are very doable and simple suggestions, but they can all be very challenging to implement in real life.
I know they have challenged me.
And that’s how I can share them today.
I haven’t gotten to the place where my expectations are perfectly adjusted and aligned at this moment.
However, I am growing in this area.
Truly, it’s NOT my desire to live as a woman who’s always mad, frustrated, or upset over something someone else has done or has not done.
I desire to have joy in spite of the actions of others!
No matter what!
Perhaps you feel the same way?
FIRST… To adjust your expectations, change them.
Change what you expect!
This suggestion comes from my friend Lori who adopted a precious special needs child from another country.
One day, as we were talking about some of the changes in her life after the adoption, she shared the most profound thing with me.
Lori shared that she had changed what she expected out of this adopted child.
Rather than expect her special needs child to be just like her other two children, she changed her expectations for this little girl.
- She set different goals.
- She expected different outcomes.
- She allowed this little girl to be who she was meant to be.
And she shared that it has made all the difference.
Change What You Expect!
For you and me, we have to do the same thing.
We have to CHANGE our expectations sometimes for how we want life to look.
It may be that you wanted to live in a certain neighborhood, and you weren’t able to afford that. What if you could change and begin to like a different neighborhood?? A less expensive neighborhood?
It may be that you hoped that your husband would take a certain job. He didn’t. And so, you live with less. Can you change your expectations and learn to be OK with what you have??
Pastor Adrian Rogers once said,
“Lack of wealth cannot take away genuine contentment.”
It could be that you need to change your expectations:
In your job,
Or with your grown children,
Or with your grandchildren,
Or at your church,
Or in your neighborhood,
Or in your community.
Or in some other setting or situation.
Let Me Share a Great Example:
A mom of a special needs child was asked to describe what it was like to have a unique child with disabilities.
This is what she shared.
It’s called “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kinsley.
Welcome to Holland:
“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel.
It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy.
You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. Michelangelo’s David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.
It’s all very exciting.”
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.
“After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.
You pack your bags and off you go.
Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, ‘Welcome to Holland’
‘Holland?!?’ you say. ‘What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.’
But there’s been a change in the flight plan.
They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease.
It’s just a different place.”
You Must Buy New Guidebooks
“So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks.
And you must learn a whole new language.
And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place.
It’s slower-paced than Italy and less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.
And for the rest of your life, you will say ‘Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.’
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.”
Often, You and I End Up in Holland in Our Lives
Often… you and I end up in “Holland” in the different seasons of our lives, and we must change our plans and our expectations.
We will survive if we learn to let go of Italy – whatever Italy is for us!
But we must let go!
By the way, I’ve been to Holland and it’s beautiful!
Let’s transition: The first action is to change our expectations and learn to be OK with where God has placed us. That’s contentment.
SECOND – A second thing I want to encourage you to do is to lower your expectations.
My friend Joy shares this suggestion, especially about holidays and birthdays and special events and our children.
Joy expressed it to me this way.
She said that she used to expect everybody to come for every holiday and stay all day and celebrate just like she wanted them to celebrate.
When they wouldn’t, she found herself completely disappointed.
To combat this, she lowered her expectations.
Rather than expect everyone to be there, she hoped, prayed, and invited them all to come.
Then she enjoyed whoever showed up.
Another Way to Adjust Our Expectations
Another way my friend Joy lowered her expectations was to tell herself that if her kids stayed for only one hour, then that was better than nothing at all.
Often, they would stay a lot longer.
And she got to enjoy them more because she expected less.
I’m not suggesting you expect less out of life or out of God.
But I do think we have to QUIT being so hard on other people and expecting them to fill our cups and make us happy.
I know I do.
Maybe you can relate?
What Might Lowering Our Expectations Look Like?
So, what might this look like for you? And for me?
- It may mean that you have to celebrate a holiday or a birthday not exactly on the holiday or birthday. You may celebrate a day later, a week later, on a different day. It’s OK if you lower your expectations.
- It may mean that when you want to take a vacation and your husband can only take off for a long weekend. You can learn to enjoy a long weekend away. No, it’s not a full week at the beach, but you’re still enjoying time away.
- It may mean that you have to learn to enjoy spending $25 on second-hand clothes rather than going to the department store or getting online and spending $125. You’re still spending $25 and getting something new. Lower your expectations.
- It may mean that when you have your birthday party, you only have two friends to celebrate instead of ten. That’s still two friends celebrating with you. What if you could learn to enjoy the two even when you wished you had had more?
What if you and I lower our expectations today and learned to enjoy what we HAVE more than what we WISH WE HAD?
I’m not saying this is easy, but I do believe it is life-changing.
I have been trying this in my life, and things are better and more joyful.
I just don’t expect SO MUCH from other people anymore.
I’ve lowered my expectations of others and found GREAT peace.
Let’s Transition – There’s one last thing I want to suggest. This comes after you have changed your expectations and lowered your expectations.
Third… A third way to adjust your expectations is to give it all over to God.
Give your expectations, desires, and dreams over to God.
There’s a wonderful little verse in the Psalms that I want to share with you.
It’s Psalm 16:5, and it says, “LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.”
In The Common English Version, it reads, “You, LORD, are my portion, my cup; you control my destiny.”
In the Complete Jewish Bible, we read, “ADONAI, my assigned portion, my cup: you safeguard my share.”
The Good News Translation says, “You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands.”
Here’s the Truth!
Here’s the truth – God promises to take care of us and our lives.
- He guards us.
- He maintains all that is ours.
- He promises to provide all we need for life and godliness.
- He dearly loves us and wants what is best for us.
- He is good to us.
Why Are We So Upset?
So, why are we so upset?
Why are we always pitching fits, losing our joy, and living depressed and disappointed?
Can I suggest that maybe we are making other people and what they do and don’t do our “god” (little g), rather than putting all of our hopes and expectations on the only one who is God?
You and I were created with VACUUM deep within us that only God Almighty can fill.
- Even if you had a million extra dollars today – you would not be fulfilled.
- Even if your husband or boss or best friend did every single thing you wished they would do – you would not be happy.
- Even if your children and grandchildren came to see you every day of the week and called you all the time, you would not be completely satisfied.
- Even if you took an amazing vacation every month, it would not be enough. (It might be nice, but it would not ultimately satisfy!)
- Even if you could redecorate your house or buy that new car, it would not make you happy.
Only One Way to be Completely Fulfilled
For you see, we were created to be only completely satisfied when all of our expectations are found and met in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is our place of fulfillment and satisfaction!
He is the only place of complete joy!
Here’s the bottom-line truth from Psalm 62:5-6:
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my EXPECTATION is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.”
Do you want to be unmoved, more sound, more solid, and more emotionally stable?
Then, put your expectation in Christ alone.
Push in really close to Him and tell Him,
“Lord, tired of being disappointed with everybody and everything.
Would you help me to find great joy and satisfaction as I press in close to You?
Let’s Circle Back to the Start As We Adjust Our Expectations.
I started by telling you about my daughter’s friend Mackenzie.
She missed out on a lot of fun playtimes and left because she got so frustrated with her expectations that things had to go a certain way.
I think we do the same thing all the time.
Today, my prayer is that we would change our expectations, lower our expectations, and give our expectations over to God.
Today, let’s make Him our great expectation.
God always OVER-DELIVERS!
Pray With Me as We Adjust Our Expectations:
“Father, I pray that we would trust You to fulfill the desires of our hearts.
More than we ever have, period.
Let us let everybody and everything else go.
And let us put our full hope and expectation on You and You alone.
In Jesus’ name.”
Before We Go…
You know… There has never been a more nervous, anxious, or challenging season in recent history than the one we are living in now…especially if you are a young adult.
With suicide, alcoholism, drug use, and despair on the rise, today’s young women could use a big dose of hope and encouragement!
Just Rest is a 90-day journey to find peace, calm, and soul rest. Included among the pages of this short devotional is an area to journal thoughts and prayers while reading this encouraging book.
You can grab your copy in our Love Worth Finding online store or on Amazon.
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