WiW: Great Expectations

Monday, January 24th, 2011 at 6:05 am

The Week in Words

You have such expectations,” my Dad tells me again–the third or fourth time. “and it sets you up for great disappointments. You see, I never really expected much from myself or from life. And so when I turned out to have a wonderful life, I was pleasantly surprised. You have great expectations, so when things don’t turn out the way you expected, you’re disappointed–even if your life is still objectively quite good.”

It’s an observation, not a statement that his way is better or worse than mine.

But I think of it when I read these words in Anne of Green Gables:

You set your heart too much on things, Anne,” said Marilla with a sigh. “I’m afraid there’ll be a great many disappointments in store for you through life.

“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “you mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.‘ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.

I’m glad my Dad doesn’t make light of my aspirations, like Mrs. Lynde and Marilla seem to of Anne’s. But his observations–and those of Marilla, Anne, and Mrs. Lynde–do make me think.

I do expect a lot from life. I expect a lot from myself.

I want to do, I want to be, I want to see, I want to hear, I want to write. I want to live an extraordinary life. I want to do extraordinary things. I want to be an extraordinary person.

I have great expectations.

But, as my dad and Marilla and Mrs. Lynde observe, it does set me up for more disappointments than if I hadn’t such expectations.

I end up with less time and energy than I thought I’d have even after moving permanently to Columbus–and I’m disappointed not to be able to accomplish the grandiose expectations that I’d had for how my first few months in Columbus might look.

I find myself in a corner of dietetics I didn’t expect to find myself in, in a corner of the state I didn’t expect to find myself in, with…

I find that life is very different than what I expected.

On the other hand, like Anne, I love the expectation itself–the dreaming, the planning, the process of trying to make the dreams become reality. I still haven’t taken that bike ride across Nebraska, but I’ve loved what training I’ve done (I’ve trained gung ho three springs in a row, only to find busyness and/or medical issues stymie the actual completion), I’ve loved the planning, I’ve loved the bike rides taken with friends in the meantime.

And, as my Dad points out, my high expectations, while not always achievable, have enabled me to achieve a great deal more than someone who just floats through life with no goals or expectations.

My dad makes it clear that my driven personality is not a fault but a blessing. But he is also quick to caution that it can become a fault. When I become so focused on results that I ignore people. When I become so focused on unmet expectations that I fail to be thankful for unexpected blessings. When I set my heart on things instead of Christ.

And ultimately, that is what it comes down to.

“You set your heart too much on things,” Marilla says.

She’s right. I do.

Not that there’s anything wrong with doing things, having things. Neither the doing of things nor the desire to do things is wrong. It’s the setting of my heart on things that is wrong.

“Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.”
~Psalm 62:10, NIV (c)1984

I was made to do great things.

It is right that I desire to do great things.

But my heart was made to be set on Christ.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
~Colossians 3:1-4, NIV (c)1984

Be sure to follow through with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”, where bloggers collect quotes they’ve read throughout the week.


L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeI’m reading Anne of Green Gables as a part of Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge. Check out the link to see what others are saying about (or reading of) L.M. Montgomery this month

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Reader Comments (6):

  1. Davene Grace says:

    I think your dad is very wise. ;-)

    I’m not sure I’ve met many people that are as driven as you. I’m ASTONISHED at all you accomplish. But like you so eloquently wrote, Christ is above all of that.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I see both sides of this. It’s so hard to find balance. I struggle with this as well–not in the same exact areas (I have no desire to bike ride across Nebraska! ha). But there’s so much I want to do and do WELL and, there’s just not enough time, energy, cooperation for all of it.

    But, because God knows what is best and knows exactly what he wants from us, your closing words and verses are SO appropriate–we fix our eyes on him and let him lead us.

  3. Barbara H. says:

    When I first started reading this post, I thought of Marilla and Anne’s conversation, so I was delighted to see it quoted.

    It sounds like you have a good balance between expectations and realities and keeping them all within the framework of God’s will and leading.

  4. I just read this on someone’s post this morning and immediately thought of your post here, so I’m sharing. You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s good:

    “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. “ ~ Michelangelo

  5. AMEN! I’ve always loved this passage in Anne and I agree with everything you’ve said and pointed out in this post.

    I like the soaring.

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