How many of you sit, the day after opening gifts—or even while opening gifts—and think to yourself, ‘was alcohol involved in this purchase? Or what on earth were they thinking when they bought this?’ Am I the only one who thinks like this? Perhaps I seem shallow in discussing the gifts, but it’s not really the gifts per se but what the gift giving sometimes seems to communicate about the relationship. More often than not we say gift giving but the expectation seems to communicate otherwise! Maybe we should all say gift exchanging. We all desperately want to be loved and appreciated and when someone gives us a gift that screams 5 minute purchase, we wonder how important our relationship really is. Or what if you spent hours working on gift for someone and they don’t seem to really appreciate all the thought, time and energy you put into it? This, my friend, is unmet expectations. And in my experience, there are usually more than eleven each year.
I cannot meet everyone’s expectations and nobody could ever meet all of mine. I take comfort in knowing that even Jesus had to deal with unmet expectations. Once, while Jesus was speaking to a crowd, his mother and brothers were outside asking to speak to him (Matthew 12:46). I think their expectation was for Jesus to say, “come on up to the front of the line” but instead his response was, “who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Those who do the will of my father in heaven, they are my brothers and sisters and mother.” Whoa! That is NOT the response I would have been looking for if I’m his momma. That didn’t seem like a very nice thing to say. Jesus’ response perplexes me to no end!! As I think about it, I realized there is usually more to what Jesus says than what is seems.
So, I asked myself, “What are some ways that I can lower my expectations of others? How do I respond to others expectations?” Jesus didn’t always respond in this manner. There is the time during the wedding at Cana in John 2:2 when Jesus responded to his mother’s expectations by doing what she asked of him. So, there must be a formula to how I react in each situation and with different individuals. Well, maybe not a formula, but at least some principles. Let me suggest some possibilities:
- A knee jerk reaction is not the wisest. Praying and seeking wisdom with each individual interaction should be our goal.
- Each response will be different and both parties may not always be pleased with the outcome.
- When your expectations are not being met, ask yourself how you would desire to be treated in the same situation. Could something in the person’s life be causing them to not meet your expectation? And, is it really the end of the world if what you wanted to happen, doesn’t happen?
- No matter what decision you come to—always respond to the individual with humility!