This week in Step Two we learned about hope and expectations. I’ve been intrigued for some time by the concept that people don’t break my heart, they break my expectations. Understanding that distinction has helped me recognize expectations that I may unconsciously impose on others. I’ve tried to become more aware of whether I am hurt because someone is unkind to me, or whether they just failed to respond to my internal, unspoken expectation. This concept has been very freeing for me, both in identifying my unspoken needs and being realistic about what I expect from others.
But this week, as we read about hope and expectations, I thought about it in a different way: which of my expectations are hurting me right now? I felt prompted to ask that question in my prayers, and I was shocked at the first thing that came into my mind. I expected (!) that I would think of something I was doing wrong, or perhaps that something I thought was not important was the exact thing Heavenly Father wanted me to be doing. I expected correction.
What I received was very different. The first thing that came into my mind was that I expected my family was angry at me about my shortcomings, and I was responding to them out of that expectation. I felt that I needed to let go of that expectation and accept their forgiveness and love. Other things came into my mind, and they all had to do with what I expected God or others thought about me. I realized I was being invited to let go of my expectations around others’ judgment of me, and as I thought about what that would feel like, I realized that those expectations really were hurting me and my relationships a great deal.
I’m eager to keep thinking and praying about this. I know I have expectations around what my husband wants or needs from me, my family, my friends, Heavenly Father. I have more questions for pondering and prayer, and I have a whole worldview to reexamine. But I think I will find a common theme of having more grace for myself, assuming more positive intent from others, and recognizing the difference between my expectations and the truth.
I love the section in Step Two of the Healing Through Christ Family Support workbook that talks about what I can expect:
When our expectations become firmly grounded in what God can and will do for us, our feelings of hope will increase and our spiritual and emotional health will be strengthened. A sure foundation on which to build our spiritual health is to expect that our prayers are heard by a loving Father in Heaven and that they will be answered. Expect that God will be with us to support, guide and sustain us. Expect that God’s plan will always result in our future happiness. …Our hope is based on an expectation that good things will come as we rely upon the guidance of our Father in Heaven.
These are all expectations that are grounded in truth: God hears me, He will help me, He plans for my happiness. I can depend on those expectations. And I can trust that identifying and praying about my other expectations will allow my Father to help me see things as they really are in my life and discard assumptions that are hurting me and my relationships.
I’ve been through Step Two many times. This week, as in so many other weeks, I was inspired to see something new, to ask new questions in my prayers and to discover a new way to strengthen my healing and recovery.