Unmet expectations – we all have them. Whether it’s the expectation that you would get accepted into the college of your dreams, that the cute boy you have your eyes on would ask you out, or that your now ex-boyfriend would meet all your needs, it has gone by unmet and you are frustrated. Perhaps even angry, hurt, or scared that what you want will never come to pass. Maybe you have even begun to doubt that God cares about you at all. After all – if He truly loved you, He would give you what you want, right? Or would He?
4 Truths about the Dangers of Unmet Expectations
- They are more harmful than you think
It can appear harmless to have a dream or desire that you have set your hopes on. But unmet expectations truly are far more harmful than you think. The very word “expectation” reveals that your desire is something you have determined in your heart that you deserve. You know best, you know what you want, you seemingly know the big picture, and so are demanding that your thought-out “expectations” be met. Do you see how this could be dangerous? Never underestimate the power of unmet expectations, and purpose in your heart to let them go as you walk by the Spirit.
- They are idols in your heart
How can you differentiate between something you would merely like to have and something that is a dangerous unmet expectation? Well, do a little heart-check, and you will soon find the difference. An unmet expectation is an idol, something that you feel you can not be happy without, something which has replaced God on the throne of your heart, and something you want more than Christ Himself. A desire is one thing; an unmet expectation is quite another! You will be able to detect the difference as you assess how what you want is changing your heart towards God and others, the way in which it is causing you to be increasingly discontent and bitter, and the way it is causing you to want to distance yourself from God and surrender to Him.
- They cause you to distrust God
This is such a serious thing that it deserved its own separate point. The biggest problem with expectations at all, let alone unmet ones, is that they lead to your distrusting God if they are not met. The longer you go without seeing your expectations brought to fruition, the more the enemy will tempt you into distrusting the goodness and love of God, doubting that He is in control, and finally to denying that He even knows what is best. Unmet expectations make it incredibly difficult for you to believe that God sees the big picture that you don’t see and therefore will bring about not what you might want now, but what you would want if you, too, could see the big picture and knew what was best.
- They can be overcome
In all this disconcerting talk on just how dangerous unmet expectations truly are, I do have some good news for you! They can be overcome. You can come to a place of willingly and happily surrendering your every unmet expectation, for you want what is infinitely better: Christ Himself and His plan for you. But you are going to have to do a bit of dedicated, intentional work. You are going to have to walk by the Spirit.
This means you will need to be in the Word to learn more about the God in whom you will have to be able to trust in order to let go of what you think you want. You will need to learn about His character and His ways, see how He has moved in and through the unmet expectations of others, be in prayer and surrender the dreams of your heart to Him, and determine in your heart that you will put on the armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-19) and fight back when the enemy tries to drag you back down with other shiny desires and expectations.
Unmet expectations are heartbreaking to endure, it’s true. But as we walk by the Spirit and get to know the Lord on a deeper level, we will find that no boyfriend, spouse, job, college, or dream could ever compare to the richness of knowing Christ. As He said Himself, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent —Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3).