Scripture of the Week:
Philippians 1:20 (NLT)
“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.”
Shame RX of the week:
Failed expectations pave the road to victory.
Hiking up a steep incline this past Sunday (‘cuz hubby really likes to do hard things and it was Father’s Day), I really wanted to give up. My expectation was not that I would reach the top. As an asthmatic flare up threatened to quell my husband’s expectations, I plodded along taking breaks when I needed to, and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. (Just being real here, folks – the struggle was real. This chick can hike 4-5 miles no problem, but straight up to a peak and climbing rocks? A little out of my wheelhouse). My husband expected me to finish well. I was contemplating paybacks. And I was disappointed in myself.
Anyone feel bummed or let down? Maybe you had hoped that certain things would happen or that you would have achieved something you had really wanted to. You didn’t. Now what? Shame? No, not you. You tried. Really tried. Ok, maybe some of you did and some of you didn’t, but you thought about it. And through it all – the wins and losses – expectations don’t rule us – they are goals we aspire to.
It might be goals for our family, ministry, career, walk with God, physical fitness, relationships. When our expectations fail, it does not mean they have ended. Our expectations might morph into a new goal that has to be modified while we grow. And in the midst something beautiful happens – we don’t give up. We learn in and through the process and learn how to adjust, too. Adjusting our expectations in faith is not failure at all, but wisdom.
Rational or Irrational?
How and when do we let go of our expectations when we just cannot reach them? Sometimes rationalization and excuses creep in that move us away from our hopes and plans, when we should have held on. God gives us insight into when we come before Him and change our game plan. Maybe our plan was a little too beyond us now, but if we take baby steps we can move toward it with Gods grace. Instead of being overwhelmed by our expectations not coming to fruition, we can see progress and be grateful.
No shame in missed goals.
When we find ourselves trying to justify our failed expectations just to cover up our shame, we have to realize our worth isn’t tied to any success we achieve. And it isn’t about us, anyway. Paul was under great distress when he penned the verse above. But His confidence wasn’t in His ability – it was in God’s and His promises. When our expectations are formed in the Perfect One, we can know that He will complete the work He began as He sees best. It might look different, but it is the best outcome for our expectation – our will yielded to His – His will over ours. Maybe failed expectations are really a gift that draws us nearer to God and realigned our expectations with His. When we place our expectations in Christ rather than in ourselves, we look at life not just as a bunch of to dos, but a process where our goal is not merely achieving objectives, but glorifying God in our messy lives.
What is beautiful about the expectations of Paul is that it was solely for God’s glory. There was no shame or defeat because his goal was not wrapped up in his ego or desires. He just wanted to see Christ elevated and be faithful to the call. Adopting a Kingdom mentality over a carnal mentality helps us to form our expectations in the best place of all – motivated by a pure heart without shame.
Watch your pace.
Back to that fabulous hike. As we got nearer to the top, every single person cheered us on. I wanted to cave, but I didn’t. Sure, I tried out every. single. bench. along. the. way. And anything in its natural habitat that looked like I could sit on it. And my patient husband and daughter did not mock me at all, but held my hands and pushed me to keep going . . . at my pace. I had envisioned a face plant (it has happened before) or bodily injury, but I did not give up. Hubby was surprised that I was not in pain afterwards, but I learned a valuable lesson that day. We do not need to feel shame if our walk and pace look different than someone else’s. The destination is the same. When the going gets tough, perseverance in Christ gets us through. If we just keep going with Christ, we will stay on the path and that is the best fulfilled expectation of all.
Failed expectations pave the road to victory. Here’s the view at the top. God is good and faithful!