April 03, 2006


I'm learning about not having expectations.

I used to live that way - in regard to travelling to new places. I found myself in that wide open space of no expectaions. It didn't mean that I would not recognise wonder or when something was likable or unlikable, nor was I without emotion. I would go to new places literally with no expectations of what I would see or feel or what I would gain - and with wide open eyes and an adventurous heart I had so much curiosity and enjoyment of everything I found. Not having expectations - meant that the possibilities were endless, unthought of, unlimited.

I can't say that it's been the same with life - and with friendships - these things are truely intricate! So tied up in experiences, emotions, hearts, minds. There is so much potential to be affected in good and bad ways through relationships, through family, through friends. It's near impossible to not begin to have expectations - of either being hurt or being cared for. That journey of building expectations began as a baby. My array of expectations of others have gone from innate, high ideals, shattered and all the other varrying degrees over the years. In more recent times as I gradually once again grew in daring to be known, loving and being loved - somehow with that acheivement came a flood, a return of expectations, hopes and high ideals. And again such potential for dissapointment!

Dissapointment is not bad. It's life - it's even valid. There is no one who has all as they would wish - it's not up to us to have all we want and the perfect life for our own sakes. No one has that place on this earth. God alone has that right. No one is exempt from dissapointment, and dissapointment is not bad - it's valid, it's reality. We should learn to accept it, but that does not mean we are without passion or right desires or acheivement and without fight for what we want and believe in. Ideals are good - but not at the cost selfishness and the perfect world for me, how I imagine things should be or what I think is best. Me is not the aim. We as individuals cannot provide or obtain what is perfect for us. Gifts to our lives come from outwith ourselves. We cannot create our perfect world, where people are as we desire them to be, or where verything is in its place, and all is right with the world. I don't believe we should be so tied to our own expectations. At least I am learning that. It's not reality. But that does not mean we should not love, nor does it mean that we wont be enriched by others.

I am learning to trust the Good Shepherd as he leads me in everything, and as He is my provider not only in some area's but now in all areas (as actually He always has been) I find though that I am full of my own expectations. I imagine how God will provide, I ask for things and hope. I want to loose my expectations. I just want to recieve as God would provide, and trust him to do that. Freely given, freely recieved. I recognise that as a way I want to live, I want to choose to live that way. Open hands - ready to recieve - not grasping, tightly holding on hands, keeping what I want, looking for what I imagine I need. It's the same in relationships. No more reaching, no more holding on, no more trying to keep - instead keeping open hearted, keeping on growing in the love that springs from my heart - from God, keep on giving - but have no expectations - only with open hands recieve and enjoy when freely given to. Life and friendships will always be surprising to me that way. And life has a freedom that is not seeking a perfect world for myself - instead life and relationships can be open and full of possibility or not... An added ingredient of course must be wisdom and insight. Ofcourse I need practicallity and to do my part in choosing what is right and good for my life. But can you see the fineline difference? I don't want to expect things to be as I think they should be.

But with God there is another kind of expectation, not in ways that we think God should work - for our own ideas and thoughts and hopes - but in His sovereignty, in His love. These are a granted, a given. There's no wavering, there is no remission. I just need to be open - I don't want to limit God's love or provision by demanding it be done in my way - for my hopes and gains - I probably would ask for much less than God would lavishly pour out upon me.

Lord Jesus - I'm learning again - not to expect the best, not to expect the worst - but in freedom to recieve and give. I hope I can live that way. I want to recieve that way. I'm learning to trust with abandon. I'm trusting in you. My expectations are in you, may they not be my own.


Mary said...

beth, i just saw this. i found myself really engaged in your blog, but am running out the door. just wanted to say that i am looking forward to commenting soon!

beth smith said...

That's really cool Mary - thanks, looking forward to your comments! x

Jenn said...

People give me puzzling looks when I tell them I don't expect much from them or anyone else. Could be I don't expect much from God either, and that might be a problem.

But I do think that human kind is totally depraved and that bad things happen and will keep happening as long as we're in this world.

I have very few expectations, but it used to not be that way. I used to expect certain things to happen in a certain way like I was the director of the movie of my life - always willing people would go here or there and do this that way and so forth. But then I grew up and learned some hard lessons. I grew tired of being disappointed. I grew tired of feeling rejected by life. I wasn't choosing my life, I was a victim of it. So, I stopped putting expectations on people that I never told them about. They aren't obliged to me and so when they do something nice or helpful, it is a blessing. And when they let me down, it is no big deal, because that's what people do.

Maybe I am calloused and trying to be tougher than I actually am. Maybe because of all this I will always be on the edge of the action and never in the middle of it. But the alternative is unbearable - and I don't know if I can imagine a middle ground.

Mary said...

i'm so sorry it's taken me this long to get around to commenting. but i'm here now :)

and actually, it's rather aptly timed. i picked up brennan manning's "the signature of jesus" last night and within just the opening word, he quoted john 3:27 "A person can receive only what is given him from heaven." He goes on to write, "God bestows His grace abundantly but unevenly. He offers no explanation why some are called to radical discipleship and others are not."

I guess this all makes me think of expectations. What should I ask for, God? Should I expect you to call me out for great things? Should I expect nothing and be surprised?

All this talk of expectations makes me wonder what "to expect" really means.

Webster's says a couple things:
1) to anticipate or look forward to the coming or occurrence of
2) to consider probable or certain
3) to consider bound in duty or obligated
4) to consider reasonable, due, or necessary

It goes on to say that to expect "implies a high degree of certainty and usually involves the idea of preparing or envisioning" versus hope or look to (or for).

This feels like a word thing.

But a good word thing. Because I want to be careful about my understanding of who God is and how God acts with me, through me, in me.

Manning goes on to say, "What Jesus longs to see in radical disciples is what He saw in little children: a spirit of sheer receptivity, utter dependence, and radical reliance on the power and mercy and grace of God mediated through the Spirit of Christ. "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5)."

I've lived so many years expecting god to perform what i thought was really good and right. And I think he'd agree that everything I wanted would be fine, but maybe not best. Because I've got a limited idea of what growth looks like for me.

I don't know. I think I want to learn to shed some of my expectations - even of God. Cause some of them just don't feel right. I want to learn what it means to just adore god and to love others. And maybe in so doing, I'll rid myself of ill expectations? Maybe?

I don't know. I think there are some things that require expectation. Trust, for example. When you trust someone to hold your baby, you expect them not to drop her. There are certain expectations that we live with. (does that seem right to you? that you can't fully trust without expectation?)

i'm totally babbling here, but this is such a good conversation. i hope you keep this one up. maybe i'll blog about it soon.

it makes me wish you were here in this city to talk with face-to-face!!

Henrietta said...

Totally appreciated reading this blog entry of yours. I have been experiencing some of the same things, and thoughts, as I told you last night. Your thoughts here have been yet again a challenege to me - to hold things loosely - to be content with what we have been given. It's a bit of a paradox though to thirst for righteousness, but not really be sure if what we see as being good is indeed what is good for us and others, in our prayers, which can makde us slightly hold back in our prayers, for fear we are praying for the wrong thing... which I don't think is right either! So maybe it's just a case of looking to Jesus and letting him be part of the guidance in our prayers as much as possible. get me?!