Ever since I was a child, I’ve been asked to “Lower my expectations”. When I do something – I am fully engaged- dive in head first and spend every ounce of energy and creativity on each project and activity. The biggest problem results when I expect the same from others, or question why they are not acting or responding in similar fashion. Acknowledging that everyone works at his/her own pace, is motivated differently and thrives in different environments isn’t a strong suit of mine. Honestly, watching a procrastinator do their thing makes my heart palpitate. My daily life is a lesson in tongue biting. I scream so much in my head. I want to help, but I’ve often found, in my 42 years, that if my help was not requested, it is not received well.
Most people, if they are being honest, will admit to doing their best and then hoping for a bit of acknowledgement (maybe even praise?!) As a Mom, this again is a daily lesson. Rarely do my children pass me in the hall and give me a high-five while thanking me for their clean underwear. Or, how often do you hear “Dinner together again?! Home cooked and completely different than what we have eaten any other night this week?! Mom, you are AMAZING!” Doing your best has to be achieved for reasons besides receiving gratitude and recognition. It’s hard to remember at times, that just because the words “Thank you!” were not spoken, doesn’t mean that your actions were not appreciated. That being said, I am a stickler for teaching manners and encouraging my kiddos to express their gratitude, since I know full well how much the world in general desires acknowledgement and the feeling of being appreciated.
As much as I love Pinterest, I have to admit that it can awaken a monster in me – and many others. Our nation has become obsessed with creating HUGE events out of every day occurrences. Now, let me be clear, I love celebrating the ordinary. What I am referring to is the one year old’s birthday party that is more thought out and expensive than some weddings. And these poor 16 year old boys out there that are expected to create a “promposal” (amazing way to ask a girl to prom- even if they are dating already!). At this point, we all EXPECT more… better, quicker, cuter, longer lasting. It’s exhausting.
“I pity those that expect perfection”. This quote is from my adorable Mom. She is amazing and realistic all in one cute package. She gets it all done while bringing store bought cookies and focusing more on the PEOPLE than the EVENT. She is a great role model for me when I get all wrapped up in my plans and desires for whatever holiday is next on the calendar. She encourages me to “Go easy on myself” and only do what I “need to do”. Brilliant. If I don’t get everything done, my Mom is the first to remind me that no one else knows what I had planned to do! No one else is looking around for the burlap table runner that I didn’t have time to make. Neither are they rolling their eyes at the white napkins since I couldn’t find red ones. Once again, I’m not saying to throw in the proverbial towel and not try at all. I say go for it and focus your energy wherever your interests take you. But, as soon as your invitations cause you to fret, your cupcakes become a concern, your décor is causing a dilemma – STOP. When the fun ends in frustration, clearly, we are trying too hard. We are loading our plates, which are all platter sized at this point, with too many details and not enough down time.
God knew that by giving us all free will, we would inevitably choose to do either too much or not nearly enough. He knows us so well. With this in mind, He has placed several verses in the Bible that I lean on during these times. Ecclesiastics 3:1 states that “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven”. So, when I have a house full of babies and toddlers, it’s clearly not my season to have a clean house. And when I have a house full of active teenagers, it’s not my season to have nightly family dinners – as much as I may desire them. God is putting my mind at ease. It’s OK – I can do it all, just not right now. Also, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, God tells us that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. When I feel overwhelmed, I need to hand it over to God. He alone has the strength that I lack. If I don’t have the strength to do it, it doesn’t need to be done.
Clearly, we all know when our own expectations are too high – it’s just a matter of adjusting them. What could we let go of in order to benefit our job, family or relationships? What should we stop doing now and put on hold until our schedule or responsibilities change? God wants us to live an abundant life- not over full and not unfulfilled. From what I hear, perfection is over rated – I’m hoping that is true!