Expectations and Disapproval

May 2, 2022

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV

Have you ever found yourself carrying aggravation toward someone you actually care about, and it makes you grumpy and agitated? There’s a good chance it’s because of your expectations. It’s fairly normal. We expect people in our lives to do what we want them to do when we want them to do it, and to be who we want them to be. When they don’t measure up to our plans, we typically pressure them to comply in a variety of ways. We get angry. We pout. We withdraw. We criticize. We lecture. We make sure our disappointment and disapproval are recognized in undercover and open ways. While we would never want them to believe we don’t care at all, we are communicating a strong message: “You just aren’t good enough.”

How does our disapproval impact the other person? To a large degree it is related to the personality and ego strength of the person we have targeted. Sometimes that person has a strong self-image and sense of self-worth. If so, they may be able to detach themselves and brush off our negative messages and unrealistic expectations. Of course that will mean they are also detaching from us. If they don’t have that strong self-image, we can crush them emotionally, not just for a moment, but even for years. Many adults struggle with poor self-esteem and an inferior self-image as a result of perfectionistic and unrealistic parental expectations. Many spouses are daily struggling with discouragement and defeat coming from feeling unloved and unaccepted by their partners.

Every single person struggles sometimes with being good enough. Each one of us struggles with self-acceptance. We struggle with being adequate. Shame rears its ugly head. We all desperately desire acceptance and to be loved for who we are. We actually NEED it.

All of us need to evaluate our expectations for the people we love. Our expectations should always be reasonable and realistic, and not controlling. The people we love deserve the room to be themselves and not controlled by our wants. Any expectation we have should be communicated kindly, owning that this expectation is MY opinion, my need, my preference. It is not a statement that I am right and you are wrong, and it does not make you less valuable if you don’t hit a home run.

Of course relationships need boundaries on unacceptable behavior. Of course you can express your needs and wants without manipulation. But holding acceptance or disappointment over a loved one’s head is not like Jesus. He loved us when there was nothing to love. One of the greatest gifts I can give is letting those I love know they are good enough—just as they are.

  • Jesus, thank You for loving me just as I am. Help me communicate that kind of love, not expectations. Amen.