By Kelli Campbell

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9

Have you ever expected someone to do something and then end up disappointed because they did not do as you expected?  Has someone ever said to you, “You are expected to…,” without asking what you wanted?  Have you expected God to answer a prayer a certain way and He did not?  Has someone ever gotten angry at you because you did not do something they expected?

Recently, I have talked to several friends and family members who have been hurt because people did not do as they expected or were treated as they expected.  I, personally, have been right where they are.  I am sure you have too.

Everyone has expectations but are they justified?

The web definition of expect is to regard something as likely to happen or regard someone as likely to do or be something.

I know, many times, I have expected to be treated as I treat other people and have come away sorely disappointed and quite honestly, in some instances, very hurt.  We live in a sinful world where so many people live for themselves and do not care how they treat others in return.  Some choose to hurt others on purpose.  Some of those who choose to hurt us can even claim to be Christians.

I have made phone calls expecting to get a call back.  I am still waiting on those return calls.  I have given presents expecting to receive a simple thank you . . . still waiting.  I have loved expecting to be loved in return.  Some people choose not to return love.  We have expected support and encouragement in our trials and did not receive it from some of the very ones we expected would give it.  I have gone miles expecting to be received in love and received rejection and hatred instead.

We are made of flesh and this flesh can get hurt.  Is it possible that our expectations fuel the disappointments of expectations?

There have been times in my life when I had been having a bad day and all I wanted was for my husband just to hold me and tell me everything was going to be okay.  One day in particular, he did not hold me and I would get upset.  I did not get what I expected.  I could have told him I expected him to hold me so I could feel his love and to make it all better but it is not the same if I have to tell him I want him to hold me.  I wanted it to be spontaneous love, that he loved me enough to want to hold me and make it all better, all by himself.  I was disappointed and I was being very unfair.  He had no idea I expected to be held.  He thought I wanted to be left alone so he left me alone.  The poor guy got a wife having a bad day and then got blamed for the whole thing just because he did not hold me.  We have that situation all fixed now.  If I am having a bad day, he knows I expect to be held.  Now, it is his fault if he does not hold me because he knows what my expectations are.  We wives can be so funny!

I have been on the other end of expectation, too.  Someone called me, during the time Kerby was in so much pain, and I did not return their call immediately.  If I remember correctly, I called a week later.  When I finally called back they did not answer.  I left a message and never got a call back.  I was able to visit this person a short time later.  I drove way out of my way to visit them in a distant state.  When I got to their home I knocked several times and no one came to the door.  I wrote a note, put it on the door and I left.  As we pulled out of the driveway, we saw this person pull back the curtains and stare at us leaving.  It was very obvious that this person expected their call to be returned immediately and was very upset at me.  They failed to realize that I had my hands full with a husband who was in excruciating pain.  Expectations, however small, can disappoint.  This person, to this day, will not speak to me.

Also, during the time when Kerby was sick, I had a church member come to me and tell me that I had changed, and basically, that I was not the pastor’s wife I needed to be.  I agreed with this person.  I knew I had not been.  I had not called them or talked to them at length as I had in the past.  I told them it was all I could do to keep my head above water.  I had so much going on in my life . . . a sick husband to help, stacks of medical bills, many doctor appointments, two sons to care for, an uncertain future, so much more.  I could not do anymore.  This person had expectations for me I could not meet and was disappointed in me.  I try very hard to be what others need me to be but even at my best I will disappoint.

We want to be treated with love and respect, for our feelings to be considered, to be asked our opinions and choices, to be there when you need them but it does not always happen.  Sometimes we need to have compassion, forgiveness and mercy.  Sometimes we need to think about what is going on in the other person’s life.  Are they going through the hardships of life?

It is so hard not to expect Christians to act like Christians.  I see Christians, every day, act in unChristlike ways.  I have seen pastors act like a child and pastors wives behave badly.  I have seen Christians fight and do things contrary to the Bible.  They know better . . . don’t they?  We are, at best, sinners.  We all will disappoint even when we are expected to do right and act according to the Bible.

We should not expect people to do anything (unless they agree to a situation).   When our expectations are not met we should have mercy and forgiveness just as Christ forgave us.

God is the only one with Whom we should expect to be exactly as He is!  He is truth.  He is perfect.  He is all knowing.  He is everything good.  God is God and I am so glad I will never be disappointed in Him.

THIS is the hard one!  How about God’s expectations of us?  Ouch!  “Be ye holy, for I am holy.”  How often is He disappointed in His expectations of us?  If we are reading His word we know the Bible says, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul” and “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”  I am so glad we have a merciful God.  He made us and knows us and loves us anyway.

These are just a few thoughts on expectations, not exhaustive.  We all have expectations.  We do not always know what others are expecting.  We will all be disappointed at times.  We all need to have mercy and forgive.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9