Monday, August 2, 2010

Great Expectations





Over the years, I’ve gone through periods when I’ve gotten my feelings hurt very easily.

I hate this about myself. It’s pathetic and petty.

Thank God, I’m much better about it than I used to be. Much tougher, more willing to let things slide, give people the benefit of the doubt, believe the best.

Still, there are times when I allow my feelings to bruise like a rotten avocado.

It’s happened recently.

Since it doesn’t happen often anymore, it was a particularly unwelcome and uncomfortable feeling.  Like, “Oh, nooooo, let’s not go back to Egypt.”

I tried to identify the source.

I realized that, as always, it boils down to one thing:

Expectations.

I expect things of people.

We expect things of each other.

It’s very subtle most of the time…almost unnoticeable. But underneath the surface, we have expectations of reciprocity…and even beyond that.

I expect that you will return my call…I expect that you will say what I need to hear… I expect that you will invite me because I invited you… I expect that you will help me when I need help… I expect that you will be the kind of friend to me that I have been to you (actually, much better)... I expect that you will meet my needs, read my mind.

I expect that you will be there for me.

But that is not always possible. Often not possible at all.

I believe that there are times when God actually orchestrates circumstances so that we will feel abandoned by people we’ve counted on.

Later… often much later… you find out what the person was going through at the time and understand why she/he wasn’t available.

Sometimes, I believe that God allows us to go through periods where we feel abandoned by absolutely everyone. All alone in the universe.

If you are in a place like that, don’t try to figure it out. Don’t overanalyze the relationship(s).

Just realize that your expectations have been placed in the wrong source.

At some point, your spouse, father, mother, sister, brother, daughter, son, dog-catcher, doctor, lawyer, preacher, first-grade teacher, president, BFF, and the IRS will all let you down.

This experience is necessary for spiritual growth.

Many years ago, when I was relatively new in my faith, I was absolutely decimated by a relationship into which I had poured myself out. I had given of myself sacrificially because I thought that was what I was being called to do. And then the person, who had serious psychological issues, turned on me in a very vicious way. Because I had invested so much into this relationship, I had neglected others. I felt totally used and alone. I became depressed.

A friend urged me to talk to her pastor, who was a friend about my age. I dumped it all out on him.

He looked at me with compassion, and shared a similar story. And then, with a wry smile, he said something to the effect of “Kim, if you want to become more like Christ, then you have to experience a Judas.” (Or two. Or…)

Then he showed me a scripture: “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew…what was in a man.” (John 2:24-25)
“Kim, you have entrusted yourself to Man.  Even Jesus didn’t do that.”

Later, I ran into a reading on a page that has since become pale and wrinkled with overuse. It is in a little book called “My Utmost for His Highest,” by Oswald Chambers.
Our Lord trusted no man; yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, never in despair about any man, because He put God first in trust; He trusted absolutely in what God's grace could do for any man. If I put my trust in human beings first, I will end in despairing of everyone; I will become bitter, because I have insisted on man being what no man ever can be - absolutely right. Never trust anything but the grace of God in yourself or in anyone else.”

Expect nothing from Man, and everything from God.

We have to understand that He alone can meet our needs, live up to our expectations.

Then we can be free to love each other unconditionally, without the crippling expectations of what Lewis calls Need-love.



Are you listening to yourself, Kim?

***************

 Oh, Lord, please help me to place my trust in you alone. Then I will never be disappointed.

***************


It’s strange…since I jotted down the beginning of this last week, 3 or 4 people have mentioned to me  something about having their feelings hurt.

Does anyone else struggle with this? Any thoughts?


9 comments:

Laurel said...

It happens to everybody, eventually. I don't get my feelings hurt much but once in a while somebody manages to knock me for a loop. Usually someone I've bailed out of more than one jam, held their hand while they sobbed about whatever the current crisis was, made a casserole or fetched a beer for.

And the people who come through for me seem to come out of left field. Not the ones I would feel like I had the right to ask for help.

It all comes out in the wash, I guess. All I can do is step up when I'm called to and say thanks when it's my turn to receive.

Anonymous said...

I think it's especially hard for those of us who are empathetic. We so carry the emotions of others (as well as our own) that it is easy to become overwhelmed and then look to others instead of looking to God. (He gave us a heart for these so we could carry them to Him, not seek their approval, etc.)

You are certainly not alone in this. Thank you for sharing a very timely word for me!!

Ashlyn Stallings said...

Mrs. Kim,

You have no idea how that message just spoke to me. i'm in the middle of job training. i should be paying attention. but my eyes are blurry from this awesome post.

I'm working so hard to remember this through a relationship in my life.

HE defines my beauty, no one else.

thanks :)

praying for y'all daily!

Anonymous said...

Kim, I LOVE your posts...somehow they always seem to be just what I need to hear. Today's is especially what I needed to hear. Also, the one where you quoted Oswald Chambers about, "the agony of intercession," was something I had been struggling with. Keep up this ministry. (I pray for Katherine and all your/her family regularly.)

donna said...

what a powerful message and reminder-SO well written and expressed. my husband shared a reading along this line from his devotions last week. we surprise ourselves that our age and stage in life, we still have (unrealistically?) high expectations of others. and then we may be disappointed, hurt or disillusioned. thank you for reminding me to keep my focus as this is a real area of struggle for me. 'oh, Jesus-be enough for me for in my heart, i know you are more than enough.' blessings to all, donna

becky said...

Kim -
I love all your posts but this one speaks to me in a special and necessary way as I play the expectations game so very well myself. What a wonderful reminder you gave us to trust in Him alone. Thanks again for your insights and authenticity. Continuing to pray for Katherine and all your family.
Becky

Sarah said...

Great piece... much wisdom here. I needed to hear it.

Thank you.

And I love the illustrations. Are they from the original "Great Expectations?"

Sara said...

Thanks- this is just what I needed to hear today!

(My first comment, but I've been reading since Katherine's AVM-- I graduated from Samford a few years before Katherine. I'm love reading both of your blogs-- thank you!!)

Kim Arnold said...

Thank you all for these words of encouragement and identification.

I love it when God's timing is all over a piece...

This wasn't particularly what I wanted to write about, but I kept getting confirmations that someone else needed this message as much as I did. I am glad that it spoke to some of you.

We are fragile beings.

And yes, I probably should have credited the illustrations from an early publication of Dickens' Great Expectations.