I am giving up expectations for Lent.
Lent means something very personal for me. Lent means for me the possibility of deepening my relationship with God as I reflect on the sacrifice that God made in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I know that I can take the other 325 days to work on my relationship, just as all of you. With the Lenten Season though, we can be intentional with our focus, as each day we take a step closer to the time we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Lent allows me to remember the sacrifice made for me and then consider the question, “What am I willing to sacrifice?”
“Expectations” in a way, have handcuffed me for many years. I grew up with the expectation of having to do the best I could in school, and then having to do it better. Being the only girl of four children (and youngest), there was the expectation of being the “good girl” while the boys got to do what they want. Those expectations continued through college and into life. Even though I failed many times, I still saw that measurement of “success” in front of me and I stretched out to reach for it over and over again. Those expectations grew into wanting to please everyone and then hoping to get some sort of acknowledgment in return. Expectations turned combative when I started holding them for myself, unrealistic and unattainable expectations that when they weren’t met, turned to disaster and dare I say, torture.
I am ashamed to say that many times, I allowed expectations to seep into my relationships. How selfish is that? Why in the world would anyone put unrealistic expectations on somebody else? In the work environment? In family life? In friendships? Doing that will certainly bring on failure, anger, resentment, and pain. But we do it. I do it. I even set out expectations for God…expectations that I wanted met, without considering the fact that maybe God had a different idea. Yeah, pretty arrogant of me.
I learned some hard lessons about expectations recently and have decided that it’s time to do something about it. I am giving up expectations for Lent. I am giving up any expectations that I’ve had of anyone. It’s not fair that I had them to begin with. It’s not fair to those I had expectations on and it’s definitely not fair to me.
Yes, that’s right. I am thinking about myself. I don’t have expectations of myself anymore. I no longer expect to change people, to make an impact, to help people in ways that I am not capable of doing. I no longer want to put time and energy into something unrealistic and unattainable that can only hurt people in the end, including myself.
I am learning so much from God through this experience. I am humbled by God’s moments of grace that allow me to see this time as an occasion to learn as I am in the midst of this wilderness journey. I am grateful for the opportunity to grow and transform. And because of this moment, I can be free. I can be free to work on the one and only expectation that matters most of all; the expectation that I’ve had since the day I was born – God’s love for me. I don’t deserve it, but I am humbled that God loves me in spite of me.
You are free. I am free. We are free from expectations. That’s what I am giving up for Lent and I hope and pray this sacrifice will last a lifetime, just like God’s sacrifice for me.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.