Welcome to another Thursday Therapeutic Thought post, from henceforth to be called T3 (because I'm tired of writing it out each time). I'm going to get a little theological and philosophical (that seminary training kicking in, you know), so bear with me. Hopefully you'll find it interesting enough to read through to the end. ☺
At some point of other, we've all had to lower our expectations. Whether it was with our spouse, our children, our parents, a coworker...we know that having high expectations can lead to disappointment and even depression.
So what's the solution? How do we go about living life hoping for the best but tempering that with being prepared for the worse? Are you a glass-is-half-full or a glass-is-half-empty type of person? If the glass is half-full, how do you deal with life when it doesn't pan out in the most optimal, optimistic way?
The answer for some is simple: just lower your expectations. (Check out the video above, which is a spoof off the e-Harmony advertisements....pretty funny!) But how does that fit with Jesus saying he's come that we might have joy and abundant life? Would he really want us going around expecting the worse?
I know when I was single, one of the things I was told a lot was not to expect great things from guys (I dated a LOT of stellar people, lemme tell you) and when they surpassed my lowered expectations, I would be dazzled an excited. When I didn't expect a guy to call and he did, then I'd really be in a great mood that night...that type of thing.
For the average non-Christian client, this just might be where I would stop. It wouldn't be ethical for me to introduce my own religious beliefs to a client who didn't ask for them. But since I'm on a blog, and there isn't a hypothetical client (or even a character!), I'll give you my thoughts.
I think this way of living...expecting the worse out of life and people...really is substandard living. It's the reason our society is as bad as it is. Now, I'm fairly young and ideological, but I think we should expect the best from people. Kids today squeak by with the barest minimum standard in school because that's what's required. Just to be average, not to excel. What if the bar was raised? It's been my experience in therapy that when I set a high goal (with the help of the client) and give them the proper motivation and encouragement that I really do believe they will reach this goal, I'd say 7-8 times out of 10, the person meets the goal! It's so inspiring to see them rise to the occasion.
Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10b)
He also said, "Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." (John 16:24b)
Have life to the full and complete joy! What does that look like for you or your characters? If you had to sit your character down, what would the fullest amount of God's blessing on them look like? Their own narrowmindedness will limit their expectations of God. But like Jabez, if we can simply expect GREAT things from God, I believe he will be tickled to give them to us and increase out faith. I'm not promoting a prosperity gospel here, folks, I'm just saying that Jesus is in the business of blessing.
King David wrote in Psalm 37:4 the following: "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
DELIGHT = JOY. They are synonymous. This is a win-win! For us, our characters, everyone. To expect better than status quo. To rise above the humdrum of chintzy living and step out in faith! Yes, we could be disappointed, but God still has a plan through that. It's all about perspective. Yes, people can shatter our illusions. They are human, fallen, inperfect people. Sometimes, we might even feel dismayed with God (I know many a character arc has revolved around this). But we shouldn't let one or two or five or ten or twenty less-than-joy-filled outcomes influence our desire to continue to live this life out on earth to the fullest extent possible.
Don't lower your expectations; raise your standards! Expect God's richest blessings.