A slightly frustrated patron spoke obtrusively to his friend as I stood behind, "They just did not meet my expectations." He then went into a rant about all the shortcomings of those he reported to, the vision of the company, the product they produced, and the lack of benefits he received.
"Expectation," it's a word used frequently in frustration. He didn't meet my expectation, so I left him. My expectation was so much higher, I am disappointed. I thought he/she was better than that! The president, what a let down. My marriage, disappointing. My expectation of my friendship with her, well it didn't quite work out. "Expectation," quite an interesting concept.
What Exactly is an Expectation?
Expectation is defined as, "a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future." Now that really grabbed hold - a strong belief that something will happen in the future. You see, I think another word for expectation is "hope." When I once ask my mom why she weekly bought so many lottery tickets she replied, "Hope."
Expectation A Better Hope?
So, I think when someone says, "It just didn't meet my expectation . . ." They are really saying, "I hoped for so much more." Hope perhaps needs some defining. What hope? What does hope look like? What exactly does one hope for? What does one expect hope to produce? How does one get hope, and once hope is received, then what?"
The problem with expectations is that often they are not grounded in real life. Asking one's self very direct questions helps put expectations on solid footing. Questions like, "When I accept this position at this company what are my chances based upon my abilities to advance myself?" Or, "My relationship with him is blissfully happy right now, but in a few years down the road are we prepared for inevitable changes?" Or, "Will this relationship always remain the way it is?" Maybe, "How can I live somewhere else, and why do I want to leave?" And, the ultimate questions, "How can I change my life, change my surroundings, and change my future?"
Expectations - Hope or Self-Determination?
Perhaps, one of the biggest questions for consideration is, "What are my expectations based upon?" Sometimes, perhaps often, people build expectations upon a Lottery-Ticket-Win-It-Big philosophy. The thought process is, "Just somewhere over that rainbow lies something better."
I've witnessed this many times as a counselling pastor. A young woman married only six years shared, "Pastor, my relationship with him is so disappointing. He is just, well, a little bit way too average. I expected more love, more meaning, and more purpose in our relationship. I am going to find something better." On another incident shared with me personally by a church member in my first American pastorate, "We had so much higher expectations of you." That one really motivate me; not! Returning from a family vacation a dad shared, "I wished that trip worked about better." Here's a big one heard many times, "My expectation of retirement was so much higher than where I am at now!"
A Thought For Consideration
Are our expectations, just a mere hope of better things to come? Is expectation some sort of mystical wish of getting lucky that life will work out better than it does now? Or, is expectation built upon a determination to make one's relationships, families, lives, and futures better? Is it just plain old fashion hard work?
Here's the kicker. For most of us commoners, does one's direct input into self-determination create and fulfill its own expectations? Does one create and fulfill one's own expectations?
Is expectation built upon initiative and hard work or is it just waiting for social and cosmic lines to intersect in our lives?
Just My Thoughts
Next Week - When "Me" is the Center of Expectations
Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.