The Struggle to Struggle Well With Unsuitable Expectations

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

This past weekend was almost nothing but struggle. It started Friday night, got into my mind and under my skin, and just crawled around in me for 56 hours. I awakened Monday at 3:30AM apparently still wresting with “stuff.”

I set up myself for struggle by having expectations on others that can not possibly be met. Have you ever done that?

According to ME, things I deem important are supposed to be the way I want them to be. When they are not, I’m disappointed, critical, upset, perturbed at others and eventually angry with myself when I realize how unreasonable I am being.

I put myself in a funk trying not to be critical of others while being critical of myself. Of course, that’s putting it nicely. It’s more like treating others with contempt while beating myself up for being so contemptuous.

And you know the worst part? I do this with people and activities at church.

I’ve been so involved with leading church stuff for so long – including music, education, preaching, meetings, counseling – that it’s hard for me to not be critical of how others do these church things.

Add to this my own propensity for being judgmental, which I despise, and you’ve got a hot mess ready to be served up.

Fortunately, I’ve learned not to spew my putrid rancor onto others. I just stuff it inside. This, of course, percolates more resentment mixed with guilt. For better or worse, this internal battle rages on as I seek to worship God and participate in His good mercy.

It doesn’t occur to me that these unmet expectations are actually God’s messengers to make me holy. I am aware, however, that being in God’s presence is the best place to be as I struggle with this mess.

I am pleased that God does not ask me to clean up my act before being with Him. He receives me as he does these repentants: prodigal, prostitute, thief, and publican. Though my sins are hidden, they are no less sin than these. He simply asks me to turn from my self-expectations and turn to Him.

Though Jesus knows the multitude of my evil ways, He receives me wounded and bruised. He sees my tears and my faith. Nothing escapes Him. Knowing all this, He does not reject me but receives me in love.

Thankfully, I am able to confess my faults to God with my pastor who listens well and provides help for my sin-sick soul. The mercy of God is at hand and never ends.

Healing for our broken souls comes slowly. Failures, like I experienced this weekend, are stepping stones to new realizations of God’s mercy and love.

That doesn’t excuse a bad attitude. It simply highlights God’s goodness in the midst of our crud.

If God did not meet us there, He’d never meet us at all.