28th January 2023

Letting go of expectations

Expectations – we all have them. I don’t give them much thought except when mine aren’t met. When my husband and I were first married, I had many expectations of what marriage should be like. Some of them were met, some weren’t and some I just threw out as unrealistic. They seem to come and go and change over the years. 

I’ve noticed it’s easier to not have expectations of people I don’t know than of family and friends. I didn’t know why until I read the conversation in chapter 14 of The Shack (“Verbs and Other Freedoms”). Papa, Sarayu, Jesus and Mack and discussing how God is a verb – “alive, dynamic, ever active, and moving.” 

Papa surprises Mack by saying she has no expectation of him and goes on to explain: “Honey, I’ve never placed an expectation on you or anyone else. The idea behind expectations requires that someone does not know the future or outcome and is trying to control behavior to get the desired result. Humans try to control behavior largely through expectations.” Papa then tells him what she does have: “a constant and living expectancy in our relationship.” 

What a beautiful way to describe the relationship we have with God. Rather than having the expectation that we will live up to his standard of perfection, which he knows we can never do, and then being disappointed in us, he lives in a state of expectancy, of simply being together and enjoying what happens next. 

The converse can also be true: rather than having expectations of God, as we know him better and trust him more, we can live in expectancy with him, enjoying his presence and our relationship. This would lessen our anger and disappointment with him, as we sometimes try to control him with our prayers and other manipulations.

And what if we applied this to our friends and family? I would love to be able to let go of my expectations (read: efforts to control) and simply be. How many marriages and families would benefit from leaving expectations behind to live in positive, happy expectancy? As much as I would like to live this way, as I look over my relationships, it seems almost impossible. With strangers and friends, it may happen from time to time, but from those we know best, we seem to expect more. 

Expectations change a living relationship into a dead thing with rules and requirements, but as Sarayu (the Holy Spirit) told Mack, with friends, “there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship. When we see each other or are apart, there is expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking. It is alive and dynamic.”

Letting go of our expectations to live in trusting, wide-eyed and hopeful expectancy with God and our friends and family sounds like more fun than trying to control everyone with our expectations, doesn’t it?

Study by Tammy Tkach


First published on 10 January 2023, at www.gemsofgodsgrace.wordpress.com

About the writer:
Tammy Tkach is the Assistant Pastor of the Eugene, Oregon, USA congregation. She is a speaker and writer, and publishes a blog at www.gemsofgodsgrace.wordpress.com  

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