I think that being a Cubs Fan (I wear it proudly) has taught me some really good lessons in life.  It has taught me a lot about my own EXPECTATIONS...I'm always elated when they win.  I'm never too disappointed when they loose....This COULD BE their year (no really- it could be)... but there's always Next Year!!  Seriously- If only I could apply that hopeful vibe throughout my life I would be ON IT- and I wouldn't be dissatisfied or place my own unrealistic expectations on any relationship including the one with myself! 

EXPECTATIONS- UGH that word hits me at the core every time.  I walk out in my backyard daily expecting to see a vineyard- I'm disappointed everyday (KIDDING).  Reality check really quickly-think about any of your failed, tumultuous or just difficult relationships.  What is one thing that most, if not all, have in common?  I would bet money (I'm not a gambler, however, so maybe a glass of wine) on the fact that failed EXPECTATIONS rank pretty high up there.

After having a conversation with a very dear friend recently I seriously can't stop thinking about the fact that each relationship in my life that has caused my heart strife or anxiety has a common thread running straight down the middle of it- MY EXPECTATIONS WERE DIFFERENT THAN WHAT THEY WERE CAPABLE OF GIVING OR BEING-IN GENERAL.  Profound?  Probably not but incredibly real!

After some serious self evaluation I would say that most of the time I'm expecting people to behave the way I would in any given situation.... NEWS FLASH... They aren't me- and my seriously imperfect self doesn't live up to my own lofty expectations some times!  WHAT A HOT MESS!  

This couldn't be any truer in marriage!  Think about times when you get upset with your mate.  More times than not in my house its because my expectations weren't met.  He got home an hour later than I thought so we can't have our ever coveted Date Night. (Why can't we have Date Night?  Is there a rule we can't ingest food an hour later- its all in my head.)  Or he got home and he was on the phone so I can't have that conversation (AT THAT VERY MOMENT) that I was dying to have all day.  My own misguided expectations lead to unwarranted disappointment.  It is so hard to admit... but again...those things are all about ME- and what I wanted. That does not account for what his day was like or what he was doing at all... UGH again!

This is also true with our children.  When I think about the times I'm at my wits end with any one of them- it usually is because I was expecting them to be or do what I wanted them to be instead of WHO THEY ARE.  Thought about in these terms- I'm ashamed of myself for not just loving them in those moments for THE EXACT  perfect creations that God stitched together. They are all beautifully made- yet not ALWAYS celebrated because I'm placing unrealistic expectations on them.  The worst part of this is that I believe that sometimes when we want things for our children it doesn't just come from a place of love at all- it comes from a place of pride.  We place false expectations on their grades, sports, theater, whatever based on how we want others to perceive us- not necessarily just for the benefit of our kids themselves.  We want others to know just how amazing our kids are because we think it's a direct reflection on our parenting skills.  I think we've missed our mark.

OUCH- that hits hard.  I do believe that if we are consciously thinking about how we place misguided expectations on our loved ones and all people for that matter we are one step ahead of the game.  Of course not all expectations are bad- each one of us has core standards that we absolutely don't compromise- and that's a good thing.  Life is about choices.  Choosing to LOVE instead of to expect without cause, I believe, will give our hearts freedom to deeply care for others the way they need to be cared for-instead of how we want it to be. If we choose to see every being like the image of a beautiful sunrise we will have decided to love them for the complexity that they were created to be- and that each of us are.The craziest thing about this is that this actually takes the burden of disappointment off of our own hearts and provides us with limitless happiness.

Learn to love without condition. Talk without bad intention.  Give without any reason. And most of all, care for people without any expectation- Author Unknown.