I realized recently that my expectations of myself can be unrealistic. We all have expectations of ourselves and others but when we take the time to pause and examine them, are they really in line with the expectations God has of us?
Micah6:8 The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you; to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
As I continue to read Holley Gerth’s, You’re Already Amazing, I was convicted and relieved by her insight into the scriptures on expectations. I needed the reminder and perspective check. God expects me to do right by practicing self-control; to love mercy by loving others as myself, and to walk humbly with him by loving him above all.
Recently, within a span of two weeks I started a new job, lost a grandparent, and have had to start apartment hunting. One of these things alone can be stressful enough but all three at the same time proved to be more than a little overwhelming. My initial response was to try and take it all on by myself. In my mind the expectation of me is to stay focused, do excellent work, find a place and move by the end of the month, and support my grandmother while she grieves. When it came to the statement, “I must (fill in the blank) or this will happen (fill in the blank),” my expectations of myself was that I must put my emotions aside and do the right thing; to show the people around me that I am strong enough to handle these trials.
Gerth writes, “Fear can creep in at times even when we are doing exactly what God wants us to do in love. But if the only reason we’re doing it is out of fear, then it’s not from God.”
This quote really resonated with me. Although I was trying to do all the right things I was really motivated more by fear than by love. I feared disappointing people or looking weak. My emotions made me uncomfortable and so I did not want to deal with them. All of a sudden the things I always do I was doing for the wrong reasons. For example, I send out scriptures to my friends via text message to encourage them during the week. All of a sudden I was sending the texts more so to prove that I was ok and that I was still strong during this time rather than to encourage. Although I’m good at keeping in touch with friends, I found myself reaching out not to just keep in touch and encourage them but out of fear of appearing weak.
Gal3:3 (NLT) After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?
God tends to throw me in the deep end a lot, and at first I always resent it, but in the end, I see that it’s for my own good. He does it to force me out of my self-reliant, comfort zone and into the uncomfortable place of relying on and reaching out to Him. He also does it to show me that I can’t swing the pendulum the other way by trying to get my security from people over him.
Ps 146 (excerpts NIV) “ 3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.[…]5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. 6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever,[…] the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.9 The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, […] 10 The Lord reigns forever”
A lot of expectations in my life are not from God. I make them up or take them from someone else. God doesn’t love a future version of me; he loves me. He doesn’t love the version of me that can handle everything, he loves the mess that comes before him and leans into him. When I know I am completely accepted, no matter what, my expectations change and shift back to those God has of me in Micah6. I can focus on God being my all and giving out of that to others. It also frees me to share my suffering or whatever I may be going through with others. God uses all these things for his good.
Rm 8:28 in all things God works for the good of those who love him
James1:3-4 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
God is for me. As such, I need to trust that others will love and accept me for who I am, in times of strength and weakness. These trials are not for me to jump through hoops but rather push me to persevere and grow spiritually. Living out Micah 6 is difficult enough; there is no need for me to add to it.
2Tim1:7 God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, love and self-control.