Sometimes I like to live life in my little dream world. I create the perfect picture of life and pretend that mine follows that example. It sets me up for nothing but sorrow. You heard me right; it leaves me feeling sad and depressed. You see, I allow myself to believe that the perfect picture can actually happen, and it cannot. Recently, one of my friends told me about their Thanksgiving Dinner. She had everything prepared and ready to cook. Her entire family was coming – some from in town and some from out of town. She had the meal planned, the house cleaned, the bedrooms ready, and all was perfect. Or so she thought. As the day went on trouble ensued. You see she thought that her life would be so happy and wonderful that day. What could be better than having her entire family in for Thanksgiving? Well, people couldn’t come because of sickness, others were fighting amongst themselves, and her oven completely broke the morning of Thanksgiving. It is one of those moments when you think, “What else could possibly happen?” Lots, apparently. The day continued to spiral downward and her picture perfect day turned into a nightmare. As we sat back and talked about the day, we both started to laugh. You see, God had shown her that He was in control, not her. She had set up her day according to her plans, not His. She made all these false expectations in her head that never would have come to fruition. Dreams can be our downfall at times. When we make dreams so out of reach (and put God on the backburner), we set ourselves up for trouble.
Sure the holidays are an easy way to see this happen, but for me, it happens every day. I have recently come to realize when I am creating these false expectations in my head. Like this morning, I was sipping my coffee and reading the paper (my favorite morning ritual) and I started to day dream. What if no one bothered me this morning? What if I could read through the entire paper without being asked to find something or make something? Wow. That would be a dream come true. I would start the day blissfully happy – right? Not really – because it will NEVER happen
(unless I ship my kids and Pete away for the week). This is how far from my dream my reality came:
I sat down for coffee and breakfast when Katie appeared. “Mom, will you make me some breakfast.”
“Sure,” I responded.
TJ walked into the kitchen to make an omelet. He started off by explaining to me that he needed to make breakfast because there were 3 eggs left and he should finish them off for me. Great I thought.
Megan came in looking for a shirt for her performance tonight. I of course must have misplaced it.
Pete was looking for his car keys. Once again, I must have been the person to find them for him.
The dog needed fed and let out, then let back in, then let back out. (It is a sick ritual that she plays with me every day, and I fall for it each time).
Katie began to sing her Christmas songs for her school performance and TJ told her it was bothering him and he couldn’t concentrate on making his omelet while she was singing.
The dog barked at the door to go back out for the 3rd time!
I finally sat down to my cold coffee and soggy cereal and realized my picture perfect day was not happening today. Blah.
I set myself up. It was my own fault. It is not like this is a new scenario for us. In fact it is daily. When I create false expectations that I know will never happen, then I am encouraging my sadness to take over. I start the woe-is-me attitude. How do I get out of this cycle? I will tell you how I get out of this -I change myself, because the others are not going to change. So, tomorrow I will hop out of bed a little earlier. I will enjoy 15 minutes of silence while everyone (but the dog who follows me wherever I go) sleeps. When everyone wakes up, then I will be ready for all their requests and questions. I cannot change them, so I can change the picture into something more realistic looking.
False expectations can really ruin our day if we allow them. Sitting back and recognizing that our expectations are unrealistic and impossible to meet will allow us the chance at joy. Asking God to help us through these times when we are demanding perfection will conquer that downward spiral of false expectations. It reminds me of sledding down a hill on one of those saucers. We can go down smoothly and joyously with God taking control, or we can go down in circles and awkwardly spiraling down with us in control. Some might think the latter would be fun, but it usually leads to a crash landing that hurts us or someone else. Going down the hill with God will take away the anger, the fear, and the bitterness that false expectations can limit us to.