Monday, July 30, 2012

Expectations and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

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We've been talking about surrendering small, but the last week or two, I realized that I have something big to give up.  It's not my house or my car or my blog.  It's not even a tangible thing, but it is something that eats away at my soul and causes me to be my own idol:

EXPECTATIONS -- those that others hold of me and the ones I create for myself that are not God-given.

I've spent so much of my life trying to live up to them and each time I failed, it felt like a long drawn out process of dying.  And I know that rhymes and it sounds a bit on the cheesy side, but you know friends, it's the truth.

Trying to live up to someone else's expectations put you on the path to death.

I used to think "if I could just please, then they will be happy, which means I will be happy."

But we all know that happiness is fleeting, yes?

And what if "those" expectations are contrary to God's expectations?

What if we toil and we strive and we try to live for someone else?  What if we try to make our lives and our homes and our children and our words look so good on the outside?  What if we do all that?

What do we gain if we succeed?  What if we make them happy?  Do we clasp our hands together, dance with joy, and let it all go?

No.  Because there will always be more expectations.  The bar could always go higher.  And just what would people think if you just stopped trying so darn hard?

If you didn't fail the first time, you could still fail the second.

And when it's not enough even when we have tried our best, tried our hardest, and not given up until we thought it was near perfection --

Failure becomes our reality.  It squashes all hope because all we can see is our own wrecked heart or mind or life.

I don't know about you, but when I can't measure up, I feel destroyed.  Dead.  Hopeless.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? 
Why so disturbed within me? 
Put your hope in God, 
for I will yet praise him, 
my Savior and my God. 
Psalm 42: 5

How many times have I put my hope in man?  How many times have I turned my ears to hear the sounds of praise of me instead of turning my mouth to praise Him?

I have to repeat that again for myself to really hear --

Which would I rather do?

Turn my ears to hear praises from others about myself
Turn my mouth to sing praises about my God?

It's hard to be talking and listening at the same time.  It's hard to be self-focused and God-focused.  We have 2 eyes, but they can't look in two different directions at the same time.  And the hard reality of trying to measure up to other people's expectation is that what we are really seeking is

praise from other people.

At some point there has to come a severing.  All these invisible cords that tie us to the expectations of others, we must unwind ourselves from them, and then hand over the ropes to Jesus.

In that moment of turning them over to Him, aligning our face to His and His alone, we can find freedom.  We can find joy.  We can find hope.  We can find rest.

And when words come to pierce our souls, we have a Shield, a Protector, a Rock.

By day the Lord directs his love, 
at night his song is with me— 
a prayer to the God of my life.  Psalm 42: 8
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  1. oh I know this...expectations are really just premeditated disappointments. Letting go of expectations of myself...freed me to let go of expectations over others...blessings as we keep our 2 eyes...fixed on HIm:)

    1. I never thought of expectations as premeditated disappointments. This is an eye-opening revelation.

    2. Ooo. Yeah. Premeditated disappointments. Been there; done that. (Great post, too, Jen...)

  2. oh, darlin' these expectations. they choke us. they hold us bound. yes. to be free.

  3. Oh, I do love the Psalms! They are full of grace and hope, raw emotion and the gospel. I love the internal dialogue the writer makes the reader privy to. It's so beautiful and real.

    I fear disappointing people. I fear that I'll never measure up. Such an ugly, hopeless place to be.

    But. The sweet gospel story. The truth will set us free! :)

    So delighted to be back with you ladies today!

    1. So glad to see YOU! To think that we will never measure up -- it is hopeless. But then to think that what we are so desperately trying to measure ourselves by -- it is false. Only He gives us our true value!

  4. the PERFECT post for me as i head back to school. and more expectations....

  5. Have you already read "Grace for the Good Girl" by Emily Freeman? There are section in this book that really helped me and I have to review them. I stand with you, Jen, in a desire for freedom. This is an area that my husband has found so much freedom in ... I love watching it.


  6. Amen, Jen. And the trouble with expectations is they rise up in a pedestal and I'm always going to fall off, for sure and certain. Better just to walk in the dust following JESUS, but that too takes Grace to hold us on the path.

  7. Letting go of expectations is so hard. I continue to fight that battle daily. Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it.

  8. hey jen! well, i am new again, kinda! i used to blog before and have linked to you before, just have a new blog :) -mapletree/learningchristianity were my last blogs, if you remember. i am remaining anonymousssss in the blog world, if you know what i mean. it's hard to have family read and people i know personally to read, but i want to write deep from my heart. ya know? xoxo

  9. Wow! You've named it- trying to measure up is seeking praise from other people- I can barely type that without feeling the Spirit's prickle convicting me all over. Gonna go now and repent. Thanks for speaking truth here. Always. I love how you're letting Him transform you! Beautiful.

  10. I'm with you, Jen...daily cutting those cords, and realigning my heart's eyes onto Him... thank you for honestly sharing how God is making you more beautiful..truly :)

  11. Oh yes!!Thank you for posting this! I, this past winter, had a "friend" cut ties with me. She was one I would consider a best friend, someone I wanted to be a best friend, right behind my husband. However, she sent an e-mail and didn't say goodbye in the most kind way. However, I prayed about it for a long time and I realized God took her out of my life because she was an idol. She was one I always wanted to please, I wanted to always praise me for everything I did. He did it so I could focus completely on him.

  12. I have been learning this lesson as well...and it is usually expectations that I have put on myself.

  13. Remembering to turn and praise Him instead of placing my ears in the ready position for praise and striving to meet human expectations.
    Yes. I am taking this with me today. Thank you Jen. A beautifully written reminder of how to really "live" instead of simply "existing".

  14. At some point there has to come a severing.
    This is the part that is so hard to accept. But it is the key to life.

  15. Oh, those evil expectations! Pre-meditated disappointments is such a spot on label. I get to thinking that I am all over comparing myself to others, and then—WHAM!—I am knocked off that pedestal faster than a cup of milk next to a willful toddler. And then I add more insult to injury by laying there and listening to that evil voice remind me of how I am just not up to being in the ring with other bloggers.

    I really, really, needed this today, Jen. Thanks so much for saying what needed to be said. <3

  16. This hits me right in my heart, because I'm so guilty, guilty, guilty. Sometimes I live depressed over this issue. With chronic pain, nobody can see the pain so they don't understand. Added to that is that I keep how I feel to myself and have perfected my "I'm fine" smile so I try to meet their expectations which of course only adds to the pain. Saying no is worse because then I fret over disappointing others. I' am going to ask God to guide me in knowing how to deal with this. Thank you, Jen, for your faithfulness in allowing God to guide your "pen."

    1. When I went to the Beth Moore conference, she said that "OK" meant "only kidding." I'm praying for space for you to be honest with your feelings and your life -- to be real and not feel that you have to morph according to others' expectations of you.

  17. I've been listening to a tape entitled Secrets to Happiness. I'm sure we all know the secrets, giving thanks in everything, finding joy in serving others, being simple, etc. Sometimes it's just so hard to balance everything, especially when others have expectations about us! patsy

    1. I think you are right about balance. Sometimes it feels like I'm walking a tightrope. Thank goodness for grace!

  18. Oh thank you for this, This is an area that I need to deal with, it is so hard. The worst is when you don't live up to your own expectations. Others I can deal with. I need to ask God to help me, so thanks again

  19. Thank you for a thought provoking post. I hope your day is wonderful!

  20. I love that verse from Psalms 42 -- one of my favorites. Expectations are a killer, aren't they? So glad that God shakes us up and wakes us up to Him.

  21. As our pastor said on Sunday -- Only 2 choices on the shelf: pleasing God or pleasing self. If we please God, it doesn't matter whom we displease. Thanks for the great post & for hosting the linkup, & God bless,

  22. Love you, girl. Been thinking about you.

  23. Oh, yes. Those expectations, those killers of the gospel message; the ones that tell me I've got to live up to something. Jesus tells me to be perfect as he is perfect, and there's only one way to do that. In him.

  24. "It's hard to be talking and listening at the same time." - oh, yes. It is hard for me to be focused on God when I'm focused on pleasing people. This post is eternally relevant to me. Thank you.


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