Expectations and Taking Things Personally

I have great experience with both topics today. I used to have high expectations for lots of things, that was how I was raised and educated to be: expect great things, expect good pay, expect to get married, expect to have money, expect to be happy, expect, expect, expect…. Now, I admit for certain things there are definitely outcomes you can expect: break the law, there will be consequences; don’t pay your taxes, the IRS will come knocking on your door. I am talking about what goes on in our heads. When we expect behaviors of other people, for example, we are basing that on our own paradigms, our own mind-set. It is emotionally dangerous to expect anything from another person. Even within marriage, once the “expectations” set in for our spouse, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment, frustration, and eventually anger. We can anticipate various things, which is a softer outlook, but expecting them becomes a more hard-and-fast rule.

Taking things personally. This was a hard one for me to overcome. I have a soft, tender heart, even though I can appear to be tough. I would interact with people, whether family, at work, or the public, and things they said or did would affect me. I would take things personally. As I have aged and matured, and grown closer in my walk with God, He has shown me the beauty and benefits of not giving away my personal power. By that I mean, giving others power over me so that I was taking in what they said or did, and my joy was depleted. I value joy, it has power in my life. It is levels up from just happiness. Joy is profound, it is a heart-issue. People ask me how to avoid taking things personally and I say “just don’t”. I think about positive and good things, I do not expect things to happen or behaviors to be just so, instead, I anticipate having fun, seeing the good of the setting.

In stepfamilies, we expect too much of ourselves, our spouse, our children, and our stepchildren. We take way too many things personally. As a stepmom, I took so much personally, I crippled myself with doubt, self-condemnation, self-criticism, I worried, I fretted.

In my heart are my desires and true intentions. I seek the heart of Christ, therefore, my heart serves compassion, love, encouragement, a proactive and positive outlook. Do I accomplish this perfectly every day? Not even close. But because my intentions are right and Christ-centered, my imperfections are captured and corrected. I am aware of them and do not let them get out of control.

My prayer for you today is to model Christ, use the word “expect” less and avoid losing your joy by taking hurtful things other people say or do into your heart. God bless you.

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4 thoughts on “Expectations and Taking Things Personally

  1. Beautifully said, and points for me to ponder.

    My Dad is remarrying (Mum died a few years back) and my new ‘step mum’ will be an old friend I’ve had since I was a teenager (I’m in my mid thirties).

    Dad’s behaviour, since he’s been dating Angel (not her real name), has been so different from what I’ve ever known. Expectations that seem reasonable, given history and how well I know him, seem to be completely unrealistic (as he’s proven over and over again!).

    Angel is – deliberately or not – driving a wedge between Dad and his two kids (and their respective families) that Dad has acknowledged, but failed/refused to remedy.

    *le sigh*

    What to do?

    • Thank you “keirahytten”! My heart goes out to you. My mother passed away three years ago and it is apparent to me that now at 86.5 dad is enjoying himself socially, dancing, and loving the hugs his lady friends give him. One lady who lives 4 hours away, but is a classmate so has a history with him, wants him to herself and has said some pretty “strong” things about us and our family without even knowing us. I shared with dad that although his life is his own at his age…I can dislike and disagree with what this particular lady says, while honoring her presence. I will respect her when she is here visiting dad, but she will need to earn back my trust and respect. So, we daughters who are close to our dads (I am a very young 61), can express our feelings in a healthy and non-threatening manner. And I believe feelings should be expressed if there seems to be a division happening between dad or mom and kids and family. “Angel”, I would hope would be as a godly wife…a helpmate to her beloved (your dad) in all ways, including maintaining and building the family relationship he already has with you, your sibling and your families. Does she have a family? If she agrees to marry him, then she is committing herself to you all as her new family. I believe in communication rather than confrontation. With both your dad and “Angel”, I would suggest sharing your feelings and asking them both to stay close to the family, that you are concerned and you need your dad and the kids need their grandpa and everyone can grow from having someone new in the family if all the relationships remain open and healthy. God bless you, stay in touch!

      • Thanks so much for your reply.

        *hugs*

        Yes, I’m certainly close with my dad, and we’ve always enjoyed being able to have ‘hard’ conversations with each other when required.

        Dad’s main dilemma is that he has expressed (allegedly) to Angel that her behaviour is not appropriate – as a grown up, as a Christian woman, as a potentially Christian Wife. He has told her that he will not tolerate her causing division and that she has to come to terms with the fact she is marrying a family, not just a single man.

        Clearly, she hasn’t taken this on board. Which is sad for my dad!

        I can only hope for Dad’s sake, that Angel grows up – realises her folly and repairs relationships with her step kids before things become irretrievable, otherwise my Dad’s life will be a misery!

  2. My book is due to be published by the end of this month. Two main parts of my book are “preparing for marriage, especially in creating a stepfamily” and the “Marital Perch”. Husband and wife become one flesh. For that to successfully work in a stepfamily, the husband and wife should be best friends and support each other. Husband and wife are the only two people in a marriage with God over them. Children are not part of the marriage. When adults remarry another person that has children, the children become part of the new family. Marriage and family are two different entities. For too long, people have said “when you marry me, you marry my family.” That is a misnomer. Marriage is separate, but includes and lives within “family”. In my book I discuss why children, no matter what age they are, must be part of the “why” two people are getting married. It is completely unreasonable to plan a lifetime marriage with someone while purposely avoiding or disliking their children. It is a perfect recipe for misery and/or divorce. If your dad is devoted to God, then your dad should trust God to bring him a mate that has a similar passion for Christ, is his best friend, and that at a minimum, accepts, respects, and wants the stepchildren. Then if love happens for stepchildren, that is the best result. If Angel has children, she would want your dad to feel the same way about hers. No one should expect a parent to disengage themselves from their children because of a marriage. I would be very hesitant to believe Angel has your dad’s very very very best interests at heart if she is already behaving in manipulative ways. God bless you! dori:)

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