Unmet expectations seem to run rampant in the military community. So how do we rise up and resume our mission when they knock us down? Brenda has some encouraging truths and practical advice in today’s Monday Minute.
Three Steps to Manage Unmet Expectations and Disappointment
by Brenda Pace
That duty station you wanted got changed at the last minute.
That promotion seemed so sure, but was thwarted by a leader who didn’t see things the same way.
That house on the military installation you hoped would be yours was offered to someone else.
That vacation you planned was cancelled because of an unexpected mission.
That job sounded so promising but is now someone else’s because of yet another PCS.
Yes, through military life you can become well-acquainted with unmet expectations and disappointment.
The need to pivot with a plot change is a necessity military women and wives must learn.
Why? Because you don’t want to live with resentment. You’ve met those people in your military journey, haven’t you? The people who are victims of the system. Their talk is characterized by self-pity, complaint, and blame.
Our expectations about anything can be exceeded and bring surprise and joy, or they can be unmet and bring disappointment.
The key is learning to manage expectations.
I know, easier said than done, right?
In the words of author Alli Worthington, “…an expectation is not an agreement between people; instead, expectations are beliefs that a certain outcome or event will happen.” She goes on to explain, “Expectations are purely conjecture about what the future might hold, based upon strongly held assumptions.”
I wish I realized earlier in life that expectations are mine to own. No person or institution is required or obligated to meet them—not my husband, not my children, not my friends, not leaders, not even (or especially) the military. Sounds well and good, but how do I make it happen?
RISE UP and Manage Expectations and Disappointment
Hold expectations loosely, until they become realized. Expectations are fueled by assumptions. Assumptions are not always bad, but assumptions are not faith. We are to hold faith in God with a firm hand and assumptions/expectations with a loose hand. One caution: be careful not to force an expectation into the mold of faith. For instance, what if I’ve prayed in earnest and believe God will bring to pass something important to me. If the healing, house, PCS, promotion, (you fill in the blank) doesn’t happen, I may question my faith. I must remember that faith is a confident certainty and not something I have to force.
My soul waits thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
(Psalm 62:5 KJV)
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
(Proverbs 4:23 ESV)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
(Proverbs 13:12 ESV)
Trust God has a plan that he’s working behind the scenes. When we encounter disappointment because of dashed expectations we can easily convince ourselves that God doesn’t see or care. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to reveal his hand at work. Where do you see God at work around you? How might he want you to join him in his work?
Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’
(John 5:15 NIV)
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
(Psalm 62:5 ESV)
Don’t focus on what could have been but look for what can be. The account of Joseph in the Old Testament book of Genesis is a prime example of unmet expectations. Do you think finding himself sold into slavery by his brothers, then becoming a servant in Potiphar’s household, then accused of sexual abuse, and then thrown into prison was on his bingo card? I think not. Yet, read his words after being reunited with those same brothers who started the downward spiral:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
(Genesis 50:20 ESV)
Jesus described the same principle this way:
You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.
(John 13:7 NLT)
Lord, help me to hold my expectations of how life should be with a loose hand. May I trust you as a good and loving God who is always at work around me. Today, help me to live in reality as I hold on to hope. In Jesus name, Amen.
Remarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People by Shauna Leteller
It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lisa Terkeurst