Unmet Expectations: The Root of All Evil

 

Thinking a lot about expectations today. I once expected that all of my needs in every area would be met by my parents. They’d keep me full (physically and emotionally) and make sure I had all that I needed. I had pretty good parents, (certainly as compared to some I’ve heard about). So by and large, those needs were met pretty well. Sure, I got mad or upset with them, but they did the best they could.

As a pre-teen and into my teens, I think I transferred those expectations to boys. If I met the right boy, it would make me feel wonderful and fulfilled and all would be well.

When I was a child, as well as when I got closer to adulthood, I began to seek out the meaning of life; to understand religion and all things philosophical, and for a long while felt fulfilled following religion. But there were times, I fell hard. I would realize that people in churches were also human and fallible. Religions were man-made and far from problem-free.

My expectation was that having faith would totally fulfill me and perfect my life. Logically, I always knew this wasn’t so, that nobody is perfect, and even faith itself is not perfect. But many, myself included, at times in my life, have found great pleasure and fulfillment in church communities, gathering with other people who were at least somewhat like-minded, looking to something above and beyond ourselves for answers. It was, in a measure, fulfilling. At least I could feel as though I was being and doing everything I was supposed to do and be. Or, I thought so at the time. There is something true and real in seeking out the un-understandable; at least for me, there has been. I used to think I had a handle on some things. My ducks were in a row, my boxes were secure and ticked.

My view of God and of spirituality is totally different now. If only I could relate this eloquently and in a manner others could understand, but I’ve tried, and I can’t. I’m letting it go, (the need for others to understand).

Spirituality is a lifelong process, I know that now. To grow in every area, you must be willing to change, to take what the Creator brings your way. I’ve had to learn to grow through things, not shut down. My faith looks nothing like it did twenty years ago, or even ten, and I’m convinced that’s by design.

I expected as an adult to have a long, healthy life; particularly once I began to figure out how to eat better, exercise and take care of myself. This is another expectation that isn’t necessarily reliable. Nobody knows how many days or years they have on this planet. At least nobody on this side of the divide.

I expected that 2 and 2 would always equal 4. That things were always black and white, that things would always make sense. I have now acknowledged the gray.

I never expected that I’d have auto-immune disease, or any of many other things I’ve dealt with and deal with daily.

I never expected to get old. This is a tough one, because everyone knows they will age, yet somehow, we’re never really ready for it when it comes. In my twenties and thirties, I probably would’ve said that being in my fifties felt like it was a million years away and unfathomable; yet here I am. A grandmother several times over.

Some expectations have been met, and some things are far better than even I imagined. I have an amazing life partner and husband, three beautiful and amazing grown kids. I have a truly wonderful life.

And I still feel myself setting up expectations in areas of my life that blow up in my face.

My husband isn’t responsible for my happiness or fulfillment. That was a big lesson to learn. I enjoyed the tear-jerking, earth-shattering, unbelievably blessed years and moments of raising kids, but ultimately, I can’t lay my happiness at their feet or at the feet of “family.”

I know some truly unique and loving people, friends. Can’t lay my expectations there, either. People often end up being (shock) very human in the end. I’m learning to let them be.

I’ve learned that happiness, joy, fulfillment, it only comes from the inside out. It isn’t about the outer, it’s about the inner.

And the journey led right back to me.

I now know I should keep my expectations right where they belong; in check. Right here at my feet, at my door. God and the universe does their thing and I do mine. Everyone else does theirs.

Ultimately, I have zero control over most things. I make decisions and deal with the consequences. And when life doesn’t go as planned, and expectations aren’t met, I come back to this; God and the universe does their thing and I do mine. Everyone else does theirs.

That’s just the way it goes. And that’s okay.

 

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