Expectations are as irresistible to me as puppies. Once I see one, I jump at the chance to bring it home with me. Like puppies, expectations have a lot going for them. They promise to make my life fuller. They promise happiness. What’s the harm?
Sometimes, my expectations keep me on track. Things are good. I feed it, and it grows up healthy and obedient. But sometimes–and some dogs do this, too–sometimes, the expectation takes over way more of my life than I meant to surrender. It’s like unintentionally adopting a Great Dane… Except worse. Even if I do manage to feed the expectation enough time and energy, it’ll chew on my sense of peace and accomplishment.
For example, when we made plans to move, my expectation was that I’d have a hard time keeping up for about two weeks–the week before and the week after The Big Move In Weekend. Other than those two weeks, I expected to fly along at my usual pace.
What a cute expectation.
After a few other setbacks slowed me down, I realized just how much painting I needed to do before we could start to move furniture into a few rooms. That was a breaking point. Totally overwhelmed and falling behind on most of my writing-related tasks, I complained to my mom.
Her response? “It’ll just take time.”
My reply? “I hate things that take time.”
But that’s not actually true. I love things that take time–a cozy, well-decorated house, becoming a better writer, finding a publisher, getting promoted. I love all those things. But I hate the time those things take because I have an expectation puppy and he eats A LOT very quickly.
Anyone else have this problem, too? Expectations running rampant over your sense of accomplishment and peace?
When the problem is with a dog, we can hire trainers and behaviorists. As a dog owner (yeah, I bet you’re surprised to learn that about me…), I’m in awe of a certain TV dog expert who can make a dog behave with a shushing noise. Thankfully, we have an equally effective technique we can use when an expectation puppy (or anything else) chews on our peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
Pray. Be thankful. Ask God for what you need. This is how we can tame expectation puppies.
If I’m thankful for my house, I’m more likely to enjoy it and the process than when I’m expecting to get x, y, and z done in time for dinner. If I’m praying and asking God for help, I’m not as likely to depend on myself. Suddenly, that expectation puppy is looking cuter and healthier again. More like one of God’s creatures.
Notice how I mentioned that our technique for expectations is just as effective as that celebrity dog expert’s technique with dogs? Truth is, I can’t handle a dog like he does. It takes time and training to learn how to hold that kind of sway with an animal. It takes time and practice to correctly handle expectations, too.
I know, I know. We’re back to the “it takes time” thing. But once you train the expectation puppy, that’s no longer such a bad thing.