Adjusting expectations

Adjusting expectations

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Adjusting expectations happens sometimes with seemingly unrelated events.

Have you ever felt like you failed God by not living up to certain perceived expectations? I have. Light-bulb moments occurred when I read about an author’s childhood missionary dream and when I took a walk with a friend who made an innocent comment that struck me. Maybe my expectations didn’t match God’s. Perhaps I overanalyze.

Unfulfilled childhood dreams

Recently, I read about an author who felt she had failed God because she hadn’t become a missionary. As a child, she’d read biographies about missionaries. Later, she attended conferences and listened to talks given by those serving as missionaries. Her life’s work didn’t turn out like what she imagined in her youth. Instead of missionary work, she writes novels. I’m sure she touches many lives through her stories.

Others dream of mission work when they learn of the great commission to go out into the world and tell people about Jesus, but I have never embraced that dream. In fact, becoming a missionary in the sense of going to foreign lands never bleeped on my radar. I believe that the great commission means being witnesses daily in how we live and in what we say right where we live.

Use or lose skills

Like her assumption about mission work, my assumption of using the gifts God gave me resulted in the same sense of failure. She felt she failed because she became an author instead of a missionary. I felt I failed because I taught homeschool and didn’t become an author.

You’re probably familiar with the story of talents in the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30) when three servants were given money called talents. The first received five and earned five more. The second received two and gained two more. The third buried his talent in a hole because he was afraid. It says, “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

My study Bible says that the main point of this parable is to be ready for Christ’s return. We shouldn’t play it safe and do little or nothing. We’re supposed to produce results. I’ve always applied this to the talents I possess. My idea: use it or lose it. If we don’t use skills, they deteriorate. This applies to writing or knitting or fixing a car or lifting weights or even walking. We get rusty, forget, or grow weak. I figured God gave me an interest in writing to help in the work He had for me to do.

Being part of something bigger

We hear of athletes who claim God put them in the position they are in so they can use their platforms for doing Christ’s work here on earth like feeding the poor or helping in disasters, etc. So, I applied that to my writing. This skill interests me and when I invest time writing, the time flies by. I intend to do my best with every piece I write. Because of this ability, I desire to use it for good.

However, as discussed in past blogs, my assumptions of using my skills for God’s glory differ from the planned or expected.

Adjusting expectations

While walking with a friend, she mentioned that she sees my gift as empathy. This comment struck me because our conversation hadn’t been about gifts or talents per se. We discussed something all together different, but since I wrestled with finding my new purpose for this stage in my life, God used her to plant a different idea.

Perhaps how I see my skills, talents, gifts—whatever you want to call them—is not how God sees them. Perhaps He works through my writing to encourage others, as well, but my friend thinks my daily empathy for others stands out. I never considered this.

We can all be sure that God includes us in His plans. How he inspires us to apply our God-given talents just may not be how we imagined. His plans are bigger and better.

What special traits do you possess? How have your expectations differed from how life turned out?

Photo by Lumitar on Unsplash.

10 Replies to “Adjusting expectations”

  1. Michelle, when I was young, I wanted to be a teacher. However, my parents could not afford to send me to college after sending two older sisters to college. So I married my high school sweetheart. We had three children and, while they were still fairly young (10, 8, 6) we took in ten foster children at various times. Through that I became interested in writing children’s books. However, that wasn’t God’s plan. One of the children’s book editors noticed something in my writing that suggested devotionals, and that is what I have spent my writing life doing. Isn’t God great?

    1. Yes, God is great. He works things out for better than we can imagine. You have written many touching devotionals to encourage people. 🙂 And you touched the lives of many as you raised your family and offered your writing over the years. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us.

  2. It seems I am adjusting my expectations daily. Life is a roller coaster. I think that the fact that we care about how our actions and words are in line with God’s plan pleases Him. I don’t think He has a big “to do” list in front of Him and grading us on how well we have done. Sometimes I think the things we look at as being very small are actually big in God’s eyes. Perhaps we are here for one seemingly very small thing that all weaves into God’s greater plan and we beat ourselves up because we don’t feel we did anything important. Hugs my friend.

  3. Oh, My, I need to quickly explain that we did not have ten foster children all at once. We did have a family of five for eleven months before their mother was able to take care of them again. Other than that, we just had singles, plus our own three.

    1. Being a foster parent can be hard as children wrestle with their own pain and insecurities in a situation that can change often–at least that’s what I hear. It is wonderful that you opened your home and heart and loved upon these children. It requires great patience, listening, and understanding. You were able to bless them during their times of need. It is a mission for special people, one that serves a growing need. Thank you for making such a difference. I’m sure it is difficult to let them go.

  4. God often uses us in ways we don’t know. Your love the Lord and others is obvious and beautiful. You poured yourself into your children through homeschooling, and although you’ve not published a book (yet), you’ve not failed.

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