When Life Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations
You Have Two Choices – Get Better or Get Bitter
by Joanne Troppello
“I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations.” – Bill Watterson
That may seem like a negative perspective. However, I have come to the same conclusion. Yes, I have faith in God when I pray, but this perspective of lowering my expectations pertains to what I expect from people and situations.
I have been burned many times in the past because I had high expectations of people and circumstances. Since I expected a lot of people, I got hurt when they failed to meet my expectations. I put too much stock in how I thought things would work out, and then life turned out differently. That was a hard pill to swallow.
After much prayer and time growing up in the Lord, I learned that the following verse is so true.
“Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.” – Psalm 146:3 (NKJV)
Another verse that pertains to this subject is found in Jeremiah.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.’” – Jeremiah 17:5
Trusting in God, Not in Man
Now, before you stop reading, don’t mistake me in this. I’m not saying you should never trust anyone ever again. I’m saying that many times you may have trusted someone, and they’ve failed you. That can mess you up emotionally and – if the situation is truly dire – you should reevaluate your relationship.
However, when you place your complete trust in God, knowing that He is perfect and you and I are not – and that people will continually fail you – life does become sweeter.
When your expectations are lower, that means you are usually pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than you’d expected. You get a special blessing when someone in your family or one of your friends exceeded your expectations and made your day that much more special.
Lower Your Expectations for Life’s Circumstances
You’ve probably heard the expression, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That means that you should have more than one iron in the fire and not risk everything in one thing, like investing all your money in Bitcoin or not having any money in savings, and not being prepared if you lose your job. You should always have a back up plan.
That’s kind of how you should look at your expectations. Things might pan out like you want them to. However, you need an “emotional backup” plan in place. What if things don’t turn out like you want them to? Will you turn into an emotional wreck if God doesn’t answer your prayer? What if you don’t get that job, you really want? Will you fall into a deep depression?
Okay, maybe those are dramatic, possible responses. Yet, the truth still rings out. When you lower your expectations in life, you will live on a more even-keeled level, and not experience irrational reactions to relationships and circumstances – when you should be responding more maturely as an emotionally and spiritually intelligent adult who knows that expectations don’t always meet reality.
Don’t Get Bitter, Get Better
When life doesn’t meet your unrealistic expectations, you have two choices. You can become bitter, or you can become a better person. You can learn to still step out in faith in your relationships and circumstances, but you can learn how to better handle unfulfilled expectations in a mature way.
Learn how to navigate your relationships, knowing that people will fail you. Yet you can continue to develop trust – as you lower your expectations on how that person behaves – while raising your expectations for how you respond to them. You are only responsible for your own behavior and how you respond or react to people and situations.
Become a better person as you learn to rely on God as your source and not your spouse, significant other, family member, or friend. People will always end up disappointing you, but God will always be faithful. He wants you to continue to develop positive, healthy relationships with others. However, He doesn’t want you to cling to unrealistic expectations of a perfect marriage (no marriage is perfect), or a picture-perfect family (all families are dysfunctional, even if in a small way), or that life will always be ideal, and every prayer will always get answered exactly the way you want.
Trust God to be your all-in-all. Have faith that He is working all things out for your good (Romans 8:28), even if things don’t turn out the way you want them to. Give your expectations for all things (relationships, prayer life, Christian walk, family life, work life, finances, etc.) to God. Ask Him to help you lower your expectations in those things – and raise your expectations for how He will move in your life in a redeeming way.
“Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” – I Corinthians 15:28 (NKJV)
Have you ever been hurt when someone or something didn’t meet your expectations? How did you react?
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel. Connect with Joanne on Twitter. You can find Joanne on these social media channels—Twitter, Facebook, Parler, Spreely, and Clouthub—with the same username, @JoanneTroppello—and @joannetroppello.mseedsentinel on Instagram. Visit the Mustard Seed Sentinel YouTube Channel. Check out MSS Live Well Corner.