Once upon a time a mentor was offering feedback in regard to my working relationships. He said: You have a tendency to have great expectations from yourself and others. This is not necessarily a negative thing as long as you are careful to communicate it. But if you fail to make your expectations known you will most certainly experience disappointment and frustration at times, with others and also within yourself.
Many times in my life I have thought about his words. Sometimes with laughter and other times with tears. I remember my husbands 30th birthday. It was planned several months in advance. Let me share some important background details. I am a romantic at heart. I have always preferred the romantic comedies. I believe in celebrating every birthday as if it is a bar mitzvah. Even though life can be difficult I do believe in the happily ever after ending. Mix that up with my high expectations for everything and there is bound to be some tension and disappointment as life happens to all of us.
My desire was that my husbands 30th birthday be perfect. Never mind that a quiet dinner for two would have satisified him. This was his first birthday as a married person. It had to be over the top. We started the day with breakfast at Elario’s at The Summerhouse Inn in La Jolla. This is a very quaint restaurant with huge windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean. You can sit side by side on a cozy couch with an ocean view. My husband opens his first gift which I am certain he will be ecstatic over. ..an one hour massage downstairs in the spa. The truth is that he had never had a professional massage and the thought of receiving this from a stranger (especially a male) was not something he desired. Not to mention laying naked on a table with a towel covering his personal area. I was so excited about his birthday that I barely listened to his concerns and told him just trust me hon, you will love it.
I was certain my next gift would knock his birthday dreams totally out of the ball park. One of my romantic fantasies was to ride horseback on the beach, side by side, holding hands, trotting in slow motion as the ocean waves splashed against us. For hours we would gallop along, mesmerized by the beautiful sunset, intoxicated by our deep love for one another. It never dawned on my that Todd did not like horseback riding. The possibility never even entered my mind for a second. How could it? This is my romantic fantasy and I knew he would love it. I should have lowered my expectations as soon as I saw that my horse was foaming at the mouth. But being a person of faith, I held on to my dream. The first disappointment was that a guide insisted on riding along with us. This guide talked non-stop to me and spit his chewing tobacco every few yards that we rode. Five minutes after leaving the stable my husbands horse began to experience horrible gas and diarrhea. His horse refused to ride beside my horse and instead trotted several yards ahead of me. I was left riding with the guide who is now flirting with me. My husbands horse then turned around and raced back to the stable with my husband hanging on for dear life. I am on my own with the guide and shortly decide to call it a day and return to the stable. We never did get my fantasy ride on the beach.
The grand finale was a surprise birthday party at the top floor cafe of Nordstrom. I had worked on this for a few months and informed everyone it had to be kept secret from my husband. When we got home from the horse adventure he heard a message for me asking a question about his party that night.
Though I had great expectations for the day but it did not go as planned. As we look back on his 30th we are amused that though it did not turn out the way I wanted it is the one we remember with the most laughter. Over the past 16 years we have learned so much of life is full of surprises, joy and delight also mixed with some difficulty and pain too. That is how life is. Both Todd and I have learned to appreciate the simple things as the greatest gifts of all and savor each moment.
I still have great expectations mixed with passion and a conviction for excellence. The difference is now I more easily go with the flow and adapt to unexpected circumstances. God has taught me that if I embrace all of life he will meet me there.
What has God taught you about expectations?