I have them. Lots of them.
My greatest joys and miseries have often hinged on met verses unmet.
Unmet expectations can feel like rejection. Rejection makes us needy for some person or achievement to disprove our core beliefs.
I’m not worth the effort. Not worth fighting for. Easy to leave. Easy to set aside. Lacking.
We crave and expect certain behaviors and reactions from others in our hopes to dispel the lies we believe.
We live sad, frustrated and angry. We grow bitter and hard. The poisons of unmet expectation circulate through our families, friendships and even our intimacy with Creator. Our hopeful expectations for the best morph into expecting the worst from others while assuming the worst about others.
It’s Spring break for my kiddos so today’s gift was sleeping in and two cups of coffee. I sat outside watching Leighton play while sipping and checking in with Luke. Today I moved on to chapter 7 where John the Baptist is in prison. This same John who had baptized Jesus and declared Him the One in chapter 3 is now sending two of his followers to ask:
Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?
Jesus doesn’t answer right away. My Bible says for the next few hours he went about his business of ministering to people. Then finally He says this:
The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth have God’s salvation hospitality extended to them.
Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves fortunate!
Sitting outside on my little bench, Leighton whirling around, my heart caught.
You are fortunate if you have the right expectations.
Even John the Baptist had unmet expectations. Clearly John was confused from prison. I don’t know exactly what He thought Jesus was going to do or how Messiah on earth was going to play out, but his expectations were not being met.
Healing nobodies, feeding ungrateful crowds, turning water into wedding wine, conversing with women, touching lepers and children, walking dusty roads with fishermen, eating with tax collectors.
Not what Jesus’ disciples, followers and friends were expecting.
They expected King Jesus. Overthrow the Roman government Jesus. Let us rule and reign beside you Jesus.
Instead they got breathless Jesus. Bleeding out Jesus. Dead Jesus.
What a fierce blow. Crushing. Everything they hoped for thrown back in their faces.
Except they were expecting the wrong things.
Oh this is my life lesson on repeat.
Sometimes I expect the wrong things from the wrong people and I feel disappointed. I choke it down and let it settle like concrete into the once soft and vulnerable places inside my heart. I cannot let myself ask for, hope for, expect anything more. I make a series of small choices that feel like smart defense mechanisms but in reality further isolate me from Great Love and Best Medicine.
Can you relate?
Remember in the book of John when Mary Magdalene is so upset on Easter morning? She expects to attend to Jesus’ body but the tomb is empty. How much more can her heart take? She begins to panic and plead for his whereabouts with a man she takes for the gardener.
Then He speaks her name.
Her disappointment explodes.
In an instant Mary sees past her unmet expectations, panic, and pain to the One who holds her heart in His nail-scarred hands.
We often visit the tomb of our dead dreams…linger in the places hope bled out…plead for the thing we believe will relieve our suffering…make our case against the ones who hurt and disappoint us.
Sometimes we make our case against God Himself.
Yet there remains a bystander. One patiently waiting. Calling our name and holding in His nail-scarred hands our recovery, our destiny.
Different from what we expect, probably.
More than we expect, always.