When Your Expectations Fail

Most of my faith-based topics come to me as a sudden idea, and usually, relating to something I myself need to hear or am feeling convicted of.  I think most bloggers can relate to this, we write about things that we can passionately type out without hesitation because it is weighing on our hearts heavily.  I can say this about all my faith-based posts, they are written as much for myself as for the reader.

According to the Briggs-Meyer personality test, I’ve been an ESFJ most of my life.  This personality type is eager to serve and please, we work/play/love hard but also can’t contain our emotions very well and “feel” everything.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, my emotions are hard to hide, and I’m not one to be able to pull off “faking it” very easily.  In fact, I dread the thought of unresolved conflict, it can send me spiraling into anxiety real quick.  Ironically, prior to doing freelance work, I worked as a social worker.  A job that is hard for a person on my personality type, but yet requires a personality such as this.  I didn’t always use to be so transparent, my family can voucher for this.  I once navigated through a very unhealthy marriage, disguising it from them and close friends for years.

Years of life hardships have worn me down enough to where I no longer have the energy to fake things.  Kinda.  And being a 30-something adult now has somehow evolved me into a woman who cares less about what people think about me.  Kinda.

I added “kinda” to the end of both of those sentences for a reason. If I’m being real with myself a part of me still cares and probably always will.  A part of me still wants to hide the ugly parts of life from others.  I dislike that part of me.  As much as I’ve grown to care less about how I’m expected to look, act, be, or do, there is still a sliver of expectation for perfection that I constantly aim for and fail.  Its the one area that the enemy (referring to Satan, the devil, or whatever title you prefer) tries to weasel his way into my thoughts and whisper “failure.”

Can you relate?  I’ve set up a lot of expectations for myself that I can’t always reach.  Some of them are just plain unrealistic.

Be the best mom ever.  Be a perfect wife.  Always have a clean house.  Have dinner on the table every night.  Balance work and home without fail.  Lose weight.  Tend to everyone’s needs.  Raise perfect kids.  Don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.  Etc., etc. etc.  This list goes on and on.

The humor in this is that no one really expects these things from me.  My kids and husband don’t.  My best friends don’t either.  Most importantly, God doesn’t.  And He knows that I’ll go through this pattern of attempting perfection, being disappointed, and feeling like a failure.  When God himself and the people closest to me don’t expect these things of me, why do I try so hard to achieve them?  That is the question I constantly have to challenge myself with.  While, of course, I don’t want to let myself go and not strive for better, I need to learn to let go of perfection, dismay from not achieving it and focus on living an imperfect life.

I do believe that when I’m focusing on how my I fail my own expectations, I’m failing to see the perfection God has created within me.  And in my life.  And all the plans He has for me that I ignore when I’m preoccupied with striving for unrealistic ideas and dwelling on disappointment when my house is messy, the kids are sassy, or when I said “no” when asked to do something I couldn’t juggle.

I wish I could say that this came easy.  To some, it may seem silly to feel like a failure for saying no to volunteering at an event that one obviously couldn’t handle, but to an ESFJ it could mean swirling thoughts of who they disappointed by saying no.  It is silly.  But a real, human-natured thought that many of us feel regarding many different things. While not always easy to overcome, one guaranteed promise is that it can be do done in perfect fashion – with trust put into God instead of ourselves.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” –Isaiah 55:8-9

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” – Psalms 37:23-24



Photo credit:  Eric Ward

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