“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
~ Jeremiah 29.11, KJV
Expectations. We all have them. And if by some strange miracle we don’t, then we have plenty of expectations from others. So many that we won’t ever run out of them. So many that we can give some to others. So many that we can and do pass them along at the bus stop, in the bathroom (at least for women) or while waiting in line at the grocery store. So many that we pass them down as tradition and identity.
So familiar are we with expectations that we hand them out as if profitable truth when they are no more than advice. We value them though their worth fluctuates depending upon the relationship we have with the person who holds them. We trust them. We believe in them. But, this can be a dangerous thing. Still, we will never run out of expectations.
They come from everywhere and anyone at any time. Family and friends have them. Enemies and strangers possess them. Both the poor and the rich share them.
Our expectations can originate from our own hopes and desires or that of our parents, relatives, teachers or friends. But, the expectations of others can be a weighty thing. They can feel like a burden or even alien to us. They can be awkward and ill- fitting, seeming to be out of place. It is because they are not our own and though given to us, they do not belong to us. Expectations that are not our own are often the failed plans and shattered hopes of another. It didn’t work for them but they are convinced that it will work for you.
But, we have our own expectations which are but the means by which we propel ourselves along in order that we might further our dreams and goals. It is a personal standard. We expect to be here or there by this age or that time. We expect our lives to be different, richer, fuller and better.
Expectations can serve as a marker or measure of our success. We expected to be further along in our career, to have more money, to be married or to have children. We expected to be treated in this fashion or to be viewed in that way. We expected her and him to change, to love us more or better, to stop doing this or to begin doing that.
Some of our expectations come from the comparisons we make to others. It is for this reason that they are unfair. These kinds of expectations can become a faithless judge and a merciless jury.
But, we also expect things of cultural groups because of race, racism and stereotypes. There are many racial expectations or stereotypes. They tell us what we should say and how we should behave and treat others, who we can aspire to become and who we will never be. Race doesn’t expect much of some cultural groups and too much of others. But, we must refuse to meet these expectations because our God has some of His own.