- We assume that our meaning will be understood when we explain something to someone—especially when that person knows us well.
- We presume that our motives will not be questioned by people who have seen us consistently trying to do what is right.
- We expect people to keep the promises they have made.
- We expect that our loved ones know us well enough not to misunderstand us.
- We are certain that people love us as much as we love them.
- We are certain that those closest to us will never do anything to hurt us.
- We expect that people who say they love us will do what is right at all times.
In a perfect world these things would be true. But, we do not live in a perfect world. And people are not perfect. Character flaws are a part of every member of the human race. Quite frankly, we expect too much out of people. And, quite frankly, some of us expect too much out of ourselves.
False expectations are a major cause of the disappointment, frustration, anger and depression we all experience. The fact that you wouldn’t break a promise doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Just because you wouldn’t lie, steal or cheat doesn’t mean others don’t. Just because we can tell right from wrong doesn’t mean others will. Understanding these simple truths will:
- Keep us from having false expectations of ourselves and of others.
- Free us from the frustration and anger which comes from trying to force people into behaving a certain way.
- Give us the courage to face our shortcomings and the wisdom to fix them.
- Cause us to judge and criticize others less.
- Help us consider someone else’s opinion.
- Help us forgive others.
- Help us forgive ourselves.
No matter how old we may be there is something in us that hasn’t grown up. Some people never will. This is because they don’t have the ability to be absolutely honest with themselves. How many people do you know who can reel in their emotions when someone says something to stir them up? Can you? How many of us can step away from a situation and be objective about something that rubs one of our tender areas the wrong way? I venture to say that when someone hits our personal ‘trigger’ it automatically shoots off our emotions-and our mouths. To overcome this natural tendency to react to what irritates us, we must learn to do what comes unnaturally.
That means turning our full attention away from ourselves. We have to discipline ourselves to think of others first. Loving others as we love ourselves is a command. It is not a request. Loving people who choose to be unlovable is a painstaking effort which becomes easier when we train ourselves to look past bad attitudes, and focus on our ultimate goal instead. That is, to live for the will of God; keeping in mind that obedience is what pleases Him most. Everything is bearable when we can get ourselves out of the picture. When we expect people to appreciate us, to think highly of us, or we are trying to earn their love; we will always be riding the wave of our fluctuating feelings. But if we are motivated by doing what is right and keep our minds focused on pleasing God in all we do, we will never be disappointed.
Don’t give in to the way you used to act before you knew Christ. Train your mind to control your emotions. Begin to look at others through the eyes of the Spirit that’s within you. Glorify God by the good you do for others, so that God can bless your efforts. Get rid of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind, and imitate Christ. He acted out of love and compassion for everyone in spite of what they said or did to Him. We are commanded to do the same.
True love is often inconvenient. It puts our wants and needs on hold so that we may cater to others first. Love is willing to bleed as it bandages someone else’s wound. Love listens and waits to be heard. Love reaches out in sympathy and comforts those in need, while its own heart is breaking. Love overlooks the weaknesses in others that cause them to hurt us. Then love forgives.