Updated: May 9, 2020
We all have expectations. Some expectations can be good for us. The expectation for us to be decent human beings, is healthy and one we should all strive for. However, some expectations are not so straight forward. There are some expectations that operate more like pressure. Expectations to be a certain way, to do a certain thing, or to keep up with someone else. These are the kind of expectations that make you question just about every decision you make. The type of expectations that other people place on us or we place on ourselves that lead us down a path of trying to be something we’re not. This pressure, whether real or just perceived, can be CRUSHING!
Expecting Too Much
I struggled the most with this when my husband became the Student Ministries Pastor at church. It was as if I had to now be “Pastor’s Wife”. Not just Paul’s wife, like I already was, but something more. There were now a bunch of expectations that made me feel as though I needed to be someone else. I suddenly felt expectations to be quieter (if you know me, that’s clearly not happening), become a pastor myself, do nothing except support him in ministry or leave the ministry to him and stay on the side lines. Things that I easily did before, such as simply serving, I began to second guess. All of the sudden I felt pressure to live up to some imaginary standard that wasn’t even me. It did not take long before I started feeling like I was going to cave under the expectations to be something I knew I didn’t have it in me to be.
“I end up feeling like there are multiple versions of me and none of them are the real me.”
Have you felt this way? The expectations you felt just were not you. (*insert a group hug here*) All of these expectations and pressure leave our heads spinning with what to do. After driving myself crazy with which expectations to meet, I finally got sick and tired of never being myself. I began my process of breaking free from trying to live up to expectations by looking at Jesus’ example. Although God in the flesh, even Jesus was not free from people putting expectations on who they wanted Him to be.
What Did Jesus Do?
So what did Jesus do? Scripture shows us Jesus’ responses when people tried to put their expectations on Him. Here are some examples:
When His ministry first kicked off and people were flocking to Him, He kept moving locations. Peter asked Him why wouldn’t He just stay and gain followers in one place. Jesus responded “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” (Mark 1:38)
When the crowds demanded a sign, saying that’s the only way they’d believe, Jesus told them “no”. (John 6:30)
When a woman wanted to pour what would have been over $50,000 worth of perfume on Jesus, the disciples wanted Him to be mad at the woman. Jesus declared the woman’s action as good. Now her story is remembered along with His story. (Mark 14:6)
How was Jesus able to not give into the pressure? What kept Him from forming different versions of Himself to fit what someone else wanted? How did He keep His sanity when everyone was expecting something different from Him? Jesus was able to go against the grain, seem different, and say “No” because He knew what He was supposed to be saying “Yes” to. That’s our way to freedom too! Jesus had a specific purpose to fulfill on this earth: Live a sinless life, call people back to God, die for all of our sins, resurrect, go back to Heaven, then send out disciples to tell the world about what God had done through Him.
“Jesus could say ‘No’ because He knew what He was supposed to say ‘Yes’ to.”
Know Your Yes, Not the Expectation
I stopped driving myself crazy once I got secure in saying no to expectations and yes to what I’m supposed to be doing. The best version of me is when I am being my true self. I can be secure in living according to my true purpose because that is God’s best for me. I don’t have to feel pressure when I know it is God that has called and equipped me to be who I am. This is your way to freedom from the pressure of expectations. Let God determine what you ought to be doing. The purpose He has for each of us is unique.
So what should you be saying yes to instead of worrying about expectations? Leave a comment and share. I’d love to read about the crazy expectations you’ve had to deal with.