Not So Great Expectations

On Saturday, I heard barely a peep about the snow, just that 2-4 inches were expected. We got 12-14 inches.

But on Monday, the coming snow was all anyone could talk about on TV, radio, social media. Blizzard warnings and expectations of 18-24 inches, whirred people into a frenzy.

It turned out to be the storm that wasn't. Oh we did get snow, about 8 inches in my area, but the storm stayed farther east than expected and hit areas farther north.
"Jan. 27, 2015 will go down in the annals of history as the day New Jersey came to a standstill for a blizzard in another state."
Forecasters blamed it on "sinking air" and gushed apologies. “My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public,” said Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist-in-charge ... “You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn't. Once again, I'm sorry.”

From politicians to business owners to school superintendents to stay-at-home moms, we all made decisions based upon expectations: closing services and roads, early dismissals from schools and businesses, buying more groceries than we could consume in a month.

People complained when we were expecting snow.

Then they complained when we got less than expected.

What was it that fueled these complaints? Not the snow, but rather the expectations of it and their response to those expectations.

It's not just about snowfalls. It's about life.
Disappointment is a direct result of expectations that aren't valid. <<Click to tweet>>

And when we place expectations on someone else’s performance, our disappointment stems from our error, not theirs. We expect those who serve in ministry to be perfect, yet they are as human as we are. We expect our loved ones to behave in the way that we want them to, sometimes even completely contrary to their nature. We want our husbands to purchase the perfect gift by reading our minds, supernaturally knowing our secret wish. Or perhaps we want him to say just the right thing, or pick up a dishtowel, or put the kids to bed. We want our children to never embarrass us by saying or doing the “wrong” thing. We want our relatives to gather together as warmly as an idyllic Hallmark Christmas special.

Through the marriage ministry at my church, learning what makes an expectation valid has changed my marriage, my relationships with others, my life. There are 4 criteria to make an expectation a valid one. Expectations must be:
  1. Conscious
  2. Realistic
  3. Spoken
  4. Agreed Upon
All these criteria are important. We need to be consciously aware that we have certain expectations. We need to speak and share them. They absolutely need to be realistic. And that  last one is key. I often think my expectations of others are realistic, but if the other person hasn't agreed to it, it is not a valid expectation.

When I'm disappointed by myself or someone else, I either feel my blood start to boil with anger or I spiral downward into a depression. I've learned to stop and consider if my expectations were valid. Did they meet each of the criteria? Mostly, I evaluate: did the other person agree to what I expected of him/her?  Because if they didn't, my expectation isn't valid, and I'm the one who needs to change the situation.

Is there a disappointment with someone in your life today? Can you apply the criteria above to see if perhaps you are harboring an invalid expectation? And if so, allow God to release your disappointment and to restore your relationship. Share your expectation, and see if you can agree on a realistic solution. You'll be glad you did!

As for the snow, well.... there's isn't much we can do about the weather.  And there are no agreements to be made. But we can choose our reaction, and enjoy it the best we can.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11-13

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