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.