How many times have you walked into a situation hoping and expecting one thing and then something totally different comes from it? If you’re like me, it’s a number much too high to count. While expectations aren’t necessarily bad, the problem is the disconnect that ensues between the expectations and reality often leads to confusion and discontentment.
Not making sense? How about an example? Nine years ago I was a freshman at the University of Alabama. I eagerly went through Recruitment and pledged a sorority. I had heard the stories of sorority sisters being your best friends and had even seen it in my older sisters friendships. I had great expectations that I would walk in those doors and find instant friends. The problem was, that wasn’t the case for me. I immediately doubted my decision to join a sorority. If I wasn’t going to meet my best friends there, what was the purpose? I seriously contemplated dropping out multiple times. Thankfully, I chose to listen to someone older and far wiser than me. While the conversation was years ago, I vividly remember being told that just because I thought the purpose of joining a sorority was to meet my best friends didn’t mean that it was the purpose that God had for me joining a sorority. Maybe, just maybe, He had some other things that He wanted me to learn in addition to meeting friends. At first, I didn’t want to hear it, but lots of prayer helped me to see that she was right.
Looking back, I can’t even begin to list the lessons that I learned from being in a sorority. However, even now, if I compared my expectations to what actually happened, very few things would line up. Through that experience, I truly learned the importance of taking all of my expectations and laying them at the foot of the cross. It’s fine to dream, and it’s only natural to have expectations of what will happen…but in the end, we have to take those expectations and trust that God is far greater than any of them.
I was reminded of this last night when I was talking to one of my newest “college girls.” While her situation is quite different than mine, I could tell from her words that the issue was her expectations and reality just weren’t lining up. The discontentment and doubt had practically taken over every aspect of her life. With each word, my heart ached more and more because I knew. I had been there. Even more, I knew that the area of doubt and discontentment is where the enemy loves to get the children of God because it practically paralyzes us.
Despite the tears in my throat, I encouraged her to think about her expectations, and then make the decision to erase those and replace them with the truth that God is sovereign and His plan is far greater than any of our expectations. Unfortunately, it’s not a quick fix. It doesn’t mean that things are going to be better for her overnight. But, I know that learning the truth of expectations and reality is one that will benefit for her for years to come…just as it has me.