I struggle with expectations. There. I said it.
You see, it is hard for me to admit this because I have a super laid back personality, and pride myself on not sweating the small stuff. I am low maintenance, and I HATE drama. I am all about encouragement over here, not criticism.
Anyone else? Can I hear a “What, What?!?!?” “Amen sister?!”
But, as hard as a try to push the whole “don’t have expectations” thing out of the way, it still creeps up. I am all about progress here people, not perfection!
My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We started dating when I was 15 years old, and this is an example of when the whole “expectations” thing got the best of me.
It was my 16th birthday, and Josh (my then boyfriend, now hubby) was coming along on our family beach trip. I immediately started thinking up in my head of what he would be doing to celebrate my birthday.
Here were my ideas. Please don’t laugh. Okay, well you will, but here they are anyway:
· A big gesture at a family event one night on our trip?
· A sentimental gift?
· Or maybe even one of those airplanes that fly in the sky at the beach with a big “Happy Birthday Aly- I love you!?”
Ha, yes my expectations could be extreme at times, but that is what was going on in my almost 16 year old high-expectation head of mine.
As I woke up the morning of my 16th birthday, I looked in the room Josh was sleeping in. His door was cracked, but I didn’t see him in his bed. My mind immediately started running. That could only mean one thing, right?!
I imagined him out on the beach decorating our chairs early that morning. This had to be what he was doing!
I went down stairs and noticed a walkie-talkie was gone. Yes, I did not have a cell phone, and that is how we communicated while at the beach. I figured he had taken a walkie-talkie down to the beach to be able to hear from my mom of when I was headed out there so he could get everything set up.
Everything I saw kept supporting my idea of him on the beach setting up a big 16th birthday bash.
Wow, this day was going to be so special!
So, out to the beach I walked, and as I was looking for the balloon display and 16th birthday banners, I saw nothing.
Yes, that’s right. Nothing.
I put my chair out and laid there trying to talk myself down from the disappointment.
Here’s what I was saying to myself:
“Aly how stupid of you to think he would do something for your birthday!!!”
“Don’t be mad at him. That will totally run him off.”
“Why did you get your expectations up? You are ruining your birthday!”
I laid out in my chair by myself for a few hours, and then I went back inside to now actually peek more through that cracked door that Josh was staying in – only to find him sound asleep!
I was frustrated. I was angry. And then I felt crazy and stupid for even allowing myself, yes, MYSELF to ruin my birthday morning.
I got myself together and determined to not let this ruin my day. We were at the beginning of our relationship, so I kept this little story and feelings to myself until years later.
Thankfully, I didn’t let it ruin my day, but this was the first time in my life that I had to accept and embrace that my “laid-back, no drama” self struggled with having high expectations.
From that day forward, I had to continually tell myself to lower my expectations. As I did this, I found I wasn’t nearly as upset when something didn’t go the way I had foreseen it to go. If I just kept my expectations low, I learned that I wouldn’t be setting myself up for hurt. This seemed like such a better way to live.
This is what I would tell myself:
“Don’t get your hopes up, Aly. If you don’t put yourself out there, you won’t get hurt. Stay safe. It isn’t fun to be disappointed. Just know that people are flawed, and if you keep your expectations low, how happy you’ll be when people exceed these expectations!”
What great advice!
My life quickly became better and more fulfilling when I started doing this. I truly do suggest doing this with people. People are flawed. We have to get our minds off of ourselves and what we deserve.
The only problem with this theory of thought–not getting your hopes up–is that we take this good advice when dealing with people, and we do this same thing in our relationship with God.
We CANNOT do this.
The whole “don’t get your hopes up” thing with God isn’t setting you up for prayers to be answered. It is setting you up for your prayers to be stunted.
With God, We MUST get our hopes up.
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7
I have a crazy, God-breathed, supernatural story all about seeing God’s miracles and faithfulness in my life. Each one of these miracles I have seen God do have started with me believing this simple phrase:
Get Your Hopes Up.
When I was 24 years old, I was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of stage 3 breast cancer. We were told to lower our expectations as my healing had less than a 20% chance of happening.
I got my hopes up and was HEALED.
After adopting our first daughter, we were told the birth mother was wavering in her decision to keep the baby. Everything within me told me to protect myself, stop bonding with this baby, pick up my healed self, stop getting my hopes up, be thankful and walk away.
I got my hopes up things would change, and the birth mom audibly heard from God that we were the parents, and we had our first daughter – our miracle, Genevieve Rose.
After my breast cancer treatments, we were told my chances of becoming pregnant were impossible, as chemotherapy had damaged all of my eggs.
I got my hopes up and got PREGNANT with yet another miracle daughter, our Vera Alyce.
A month into my pregnancy, we learned that the birth mother from our first daughter was pregnant again, and she asked us to adopt this baby (another girl), Lydia Joyce, and we said YES!
Our last 2 daughters were born just 11 days apart. After experiencing our miracle baby Vera’s birth, Lydia was born and the birth mom made a decision to try and keep her.
I was completely devastated, and I remember thinking, “This could not be happening again!!!” We were crushed beyond our wildest imagination.
Why did we get our hopes up?
Why would we expose ourselves to this much hurt and pain?
How stupid were we?
This hurts so badly!!!
Here’s the thing: Did you know that God’s goodness never stops, even in the middle of pain?
His desire is not to have you experience pain to simply experience pain, but for you to experience His goodness in full, and often times that comes through pain.
After putting ourselves out there again, after getting our hopes up, again, God did the impossible yet again.
We got our hopes up YET AGAIN and our third daughter became a Taylor. The birth mother at the last minute chose for us to be the parents of our Lydia, against all odds.
God didn’t have to do it again. And if he hadn’t done it again – if it hadn’t been His will for us to have Lydia, we would still be praising Him and still getting our hopes up.
We choose to get our hopes up simply because His word says to do it, and if God’s promises are conditional (and many are), I must do my part if I want to see those promises come to pass.
Sometimes we have to get to a seemingly impossible situation to get our hopes up when it makes no sense at all. This ”foolish” faith is what makes us stand out from the world.
This is what and where God wants us.
He wants us getting our hopes up in the small moments and the big ones. You may not be facing cancer, infertility, or adoption. But God cares about every single detail of your life.
Stop putting your thoughts about humans on our SUPERNATURAL, MIRACLE working God!
If we believe God is big, and if we believe God can do the impossible, We MUST get our hopes up!
Single and believing for a Godly spouse? Get your hopes up!
Not knowing what you want to do for your future? Get your hopes up!
Struggling with depression? Get your hopes up!
Facing an impossible illness? Get your hopes up!
Waiting on a prodigal to come home? Get your hopes up!
Feeling helpless with an addiction? Get your hopes up!
Thinking your marriage is over? Get your hopes up!
Feeling hopeless about witnessing to an unbeliever? Get your hopes up!
Let’s stop living in a safe world where we self-protect over and over and over.
If we want to see God do the supernatural, the impossible, we must started believing for it.
We MUST get our hopes up.
And God is no respecter of persons. What he has done for me, he wants to do and will do for you.
Are you in a place of pain today?
Hang on. Get your hopes up, against all odds.
It is in the crazy indescribable pain, where thereafter God offers a crazy exhilarating joy.
The joy my family and I experience today is a joy that is truly inexpressible.
Will you surrender?
Just get ready, if you do this, if you get your hopes up, yes you are opening up yourself to immense hurt, but stay focused on the end of the story.
Spolier alert: Here’s the ending: Inexpressible joy and experiencing God in a way few ever do. Your faith will be made authentic. (1 Peter 1:8)
Be brave. Be bold. Have what the world would call a “foolish faith” and sit and watch what God will do.
GET YOUR HOPES UP.
Mark 9:23 “Everything is possible for one who believes.”