I used to think this was ridiculous. I mean, without expectations, how would anyone know what was expected of them? Redundant, but valid. But when you think more about Brett's crazy idea, you start to realize he's not far from the mark. Shoot, he makes the mark.
I think I've probably pontificated on this point in the past. So I'll just jump to my recent experience.
I was really upset with my mother-in-law. Even though she would say how much she missed the kids, etc., she never really did anything to go about seeing them. In a span of five weeks, she saw them twice. I guess I started getting annoyed when her behavior didn't match her supposed disappointment.
My anger spawned from eight years of other incidents, from her first remark upon hearing we were pregnant with our first, ("I'm not going to be a daycare!") to just flat out seeming to have no remorse for us moving to Arizona.
BUT THIS WAS ALL MY FAULT!! You have no idea how much that hurts my red personality to say that.
I had expectations. I expected her to dote on her grandkids, the way my family did. I expected her to want to go out of her way to see them. I expected her to throw herself prostrate on the floor when we told her we were moving. And because I had these expectations, each time she didn't live up to them I was extremely disappointed.
Of course I complained to Brett. That's why God invented husbands. It's true. It's in the Bible...in the very back.
And then he reminded me that I was placing a lot of unrealistic expectations on my mother-in-law. With many rolls of the eyes and deep prayer, I realized, he was, yet again, right. (I really hate it when he's right.)
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out different."
So I did something different: I stopped expecting. And an amazing thing happened.
I started feeling really sorry for her. I started to realize how much it would hurt once we were gone, for her. And if she felt that remorse when we were gone, I'd feel really sad.
"Shoot for the stars and hope for the moon."
I couldn't change her attitude, but I could change mine.
I started doing service for her.
I started praying for her instead of about her.
It's amazing how Heavenly Father can change a heart. I think Brett was joking when he said, "Expectations are of the devil," but I really think they are. What a clever way to wedge important relationships.
So much "hurt, heartache and sorrow" come from having expectations of other people. Expecting them to be the perfect husband, the ideal housewife, the doting child. The caring boss, the inspiring teacher, the friend who will tell us what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear.
Brett often does the dishes in the morning. I never ask him to. I never expect him to. If he doesn't do them, then I do. But every time he does do them, I want to kiss him until my lips go numb. I'm so grateful for his service to me, it almost overwhelms me.
I have a friend who has an "arrangement" with her husband that he has to do the dishes. I notice they're always fighting about it. He never does them at the right time, or doesn't do them the right way. The expectation is there, and even when it's met, it's done with resentment on both sides.
The only person who has any right to expect anything from anyone is our Savior, and he doesn't even do that. Instead, he did for us what we should all do for each other in place of expectations. He gave us service. He gave us love. He gave us kind direction.
As in all things, he's the perfect example.
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."