Lightening Your Load: Expectations

I’m firing up the blog rhythm today with a series about the tremendous freeing value of lightening your load. We will look at four different ways we can unnecessarily weigh ourselves down in life, how we can let go of the burdens we need not carry, and the incredible difference it makes in life when we travel light. We will begin with something you may never have even considered as a burden: EXPECTATIONS.

What could be wrong with having expectations? Isn’t it good to look forward to things in life? Shouldn’t we do our best to aim high? What’s the problem with expectations? Expectations become problematic for a couple of major reasons.

  • Being too focused on expectations can take us out of the present moment – stealing our ability to live our best. I love the quote at the top of this post. I was first introduced to it via Master Oogway in the movie, Kung Fu Panda, but I have seen it attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt and others. Whoever first said it, they offered us a wonderful perspective on life in a way that makes it easy to remember. Today is the day we are given in which to make a difference in life. If I get too fixated on either yesterday or tomorrow, I cannot give my best NOW. And Now is the only time where I can actively make a difference. It is tempting at times to set our minds on worrisome things about the future. Things that might go wrong. Situations we believe will be unpleasant. Losses we don’t want to experience. Pain we don’t want to feel. Rejection or disappointment or failure that may mock us sorely. But here’s the deal: That situation in your head. It isn’t happening! Could it happen? Maybe. Will it be as bad an experience as you fear it will be? Very unlikely. Will you get through it, even if it is rough going? Well…you’ve made it this far. The challenges and hardships and obstacles and setbacks you’ve faced before haven’t ended you yet. If I can be mindful of where I am going, yet stay focused on giving my best right here / right now, I set myself up for my best possible journey through whatever tomorrow may hold. At other times in life, we may be tempted to look so forward to what we hope will be positive experiences that we miss the opportunities to experience the rich blessings of Right Now. Sure, something wonderful may be waiting down the road. And you may enjoy it more than where you are right now. But lives filled with blessings, opportunities, and moments of great joy can be squandered for a life of discontent and misery by always looking ahead to a future vision of where you believe life will finally get good. Try making today good, instead.
  • Being overly invested in expectations can set us up for serious disappointment, discouragement, resentment, or bitterness – if things don’t go the way we think they should. I can’t speak for you. But the truth is, I am often tempted to “play God.” I am tempted to believe my way is the best way. For me. For others. For the world. I just want things to go my way. What’s so wrong with that? Well, most importantly: I am NOT God. I may be a smart guy, but my vision and wisdom are both seriously limited. I have experienced time and time again that I often don’t know what’s really best for my life. And I have a strong tendency to gravitate my desires toward what I think will bring me maximum pleasure/benefit/enjoyment with the minimal required effort/pain/sacrifice. Perhaps you can relate. Maybe it’s just me? Frankly, the past year or so has not really gone anything like the way I would have chosen for my family. I’ll not go into all those particulars here, but just know it has been an extremely trying and challenging time for the team that lives at my house. But you wanna hear something crazy? I have come through this year in a more peaceful place than I can remember being in a long time – if ever – in my life! And the reason for that is really quite simple: God has been teaching and leading me to let go of my expectations for how I think life should be, and joyfully take life as it is. And He has been helping me to learn that my primary role on this planet is to be a servant to those He has placed around me. These may seem like ridiculously simple notions. But I can tell you – they are making all the difference for me. As my expectations go flying out the window. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Oh, how I hope you will join me on this joyful journey! If you’ve been feeling burdened, stressed, annoyed, grumpy, angry, resentful, discouraged, or in any other way less than peaceful – try releasing some of those expectations that have been keeping you from enjoying today. Take life as it is. Let go of your “need” to have things your way. Believe that another way could be even better. And make the most of your opportunities to bless and be blessed on the simple pathway of compassionate service to others.

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