How to Have High Expectations and Live to Tell About it.
I want to simplify my life. I’m tired and I’m stressed out, and I want to find real rest in a world that offers none. But each step I take to de-complicate (of course that’s a word...now) exposes the truth that the clutter and clamor around me are not the problem.
My problem is inside.
My heart wants, expects, more than just what it needs to thrive, more than what it can ever have. These unrealistic expectations are a killer, and I’m the girl inviting them over for coffee and handing them a sharp knife.
I know I can’t get rid of all expectations. That’s impossible. I don’t want to lower the standards I set for myself, either. That’s not healthy. But I do need to purge what should never have been there in the first place, to get back to the essentials.
So I’m cracking down, and here are some of the expectations I’m tossing out the door:
- Anything you can do, I can do. There are so many people I admire. People with artistic taste or warm personalities or high-impact careers just to name a few. I love what those people can achieve with their gifts, but none of those people are me. I need to stop expecting myself to do everything and be everyone. I have a chance to rock my life, but only if I live my own.
- I will create perfect memories. The postcard perfect Christmas. The sunny and harmonious family vacation. The ideal romantic anniversary celebration. I need to let go of the Instagram life. I don’t need perfect days. I can be rapturously happy with imperfect ones. Because in between the kids throwing up all over our vacation and my anniversary being co-opted by Little League games, there are a thousand ordinary moments of wonder. That’s my real life, even if there are no photos to prove it.
- I will never let myself or others down. This is pure pride, and I know it. Hint to myself: everyone else already knows I’m not perfect. I’m the only one who thinks otherwise, and I need to get over myself. Period.
Here are the expectations I’m holding on to:
- I’ll love others as I love myself. I do not always like myself. I see my flaws. I fail myself constantly. But I’m just honest enough to admit that I love myself relentlessly. I am devoted to meeting my own needs. This has got to be the standard for my love for those around me. I don’t have to love perfectly or blindly. I just have to love others with the same dogged dedication that I love myself. I’m aware that I am not capable of pulling that off, but I believe in a God who made me to do this and who has given me his own Spirit to live in me and make it possible. So yeah, this one stays.
- I’ll be authentic. I won’t lie to others and I won’t lie to myself. I won’t repress my real feelings and I won’t spin my failures. I’ll be who I really am. I’ll accept that and not flinch from it. (I told you these expectations were still high.) I’ll fail in this, too, but I’ll never stop expecting myself to push through my own BS and face the whole truth.
- I’ll be purposeful. I will choose to spend my time in a way that fits with numbers 1 and 2. I’ll keep my goals simple and focused, so that I can find true fulfillment and also true rest.
- I’ll work my butt off. If my capacity isn’t as great as other people, who cares? If others find my goals small and unworthy? I’m letting that go. But I am going to take what I’ve chosen for my life and I’m going to push myself to my own personal limits to do it as well as I can.
I still get to strive for excellence. I still get to shoot for the stars. But it’s time I learned the difference between what my heart needs and what it only wants, so I can find the security of soul that will allow me to really rest.
Photo by: Bethany Shaw