When I saw this quote after a Big Bang Theory episode, I realized how true it rings with me. I often have expectations attached to things, including relationships, even though I don’t consciously think about it until I feel disappointed about the way an interaction went or a situation turned out.
I know that I would have more enjoyable relationships if I could let go of expectations for others or be able to think about what my expectations are beforehand and analyze whether they are realistic. If I could say out loud what I hoped would happen in a relationship or interaction then I could either have a better chance of having it met or be able to see that it is unrealistic and change it.
I have two very poignant experiences of having unrealistic expectations in relationships that ended up in a fracture of the relationship at the time. God helped me to see that my expectations were not realistic and, thankfully, both of those relationships were restored. I would just love to be able to preempt these situations by allowing myself to let go of expectations and just enjoy the interactions.
I believe that part of the reason I struggle so much with expectations is my perfectionist nature. If there isn’t a script of how something is supposed to go, then how do I know if it is successful? Obviously, relationships can never be perfect and it’s not about performance but about love and grace. It can be a struggle for me to be okay with messiness and not having control over outcomes or results.
I have found it helpful to talk to others about my thoughts and feelings in relationships. Receiving another perspective helps me to see where I am setting myself up for disappointment and provides the opportunity to release my expectations before they harm the relationship.
I am also learning that if I am really seeking to love the other person, then there should not be any expectations of a return from those I am extending love to; otherwise, it is more an exchange of goods or services than a loving, grace-filled relationship. If I am looking for what’s in it for me, then I am too self-focused. The Bible tells us to look out for the interests of others. If I trust that God is loving and kind and has my best in mind, then I can be confident that he is looking out for my interests while I seek to love others better and be a good friend to those around me.