When we think things should be the way we wanted it and if it doesn’t, it may cause frustration, and frustration may result in anger. What to do with these unrealistic expectations?
How easy to live under the illusion that we can decide what people should do or how situations should be decided. “My destiny should be this; therefore, people should do that.” Sometimes we pray and expect God to do everything we ask. The primary problem with all these expectations can center on the simple word “pride.” Ask the Lord, “Do I act as though I am at the center of my world?” James 4:1–3, 6 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures… ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ ”
It is when we have unrealistic expectations that anger sometimes overcome us. Like anger over circumstances we experience: “I expected good things would always come my way … but life is clearly not what I’d expected.” Unrealistic expectations about other people may cause us to get angry: “I expected that you would always be here for me, to always support and love me … but now I’m left alone.” Unrealistic expectations expected from yourself: “I expected to always excel … but now I am struggling and feel like a failure.”
The more we expect people to do what we want, the angrier we become when they fail us. The more we try to control others, the more control we give them over us. The more demands we put on others, the more power we might give them to anger us.
The solution: We need to humble ourselves and submit to God’s sovereignty over our lives and over the lives of others. We need to leave our destiny in His hands – where it rightly resides. The Bible says that we are to lay our expectations before the Lord and allow Him to determine what we should receive. Psalm 62:5 “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”
When you experience significant loss in your life, you will go through a time of grieving.
- Admit your feelings – your hurt or sense of injustice, your fear or frustration.
- Release to God all the pain you feel, along with the situations that are beyond your control.
- Trust God to give you the grace and insight to deal constructively with each loss.
- Release your expectation that life must go your way.
A prayer like the following might be what we can do to submit to the Lord: “Lord, thank You that You are sovereign over my life. Whatever it takes, I want to respond to You with a heart of gratitude and to accept these unchangeable circumstances in my life. I choose to stop making myself and those around me miserable for something none of us can change. Instead, I thank You for how You are going to use everything in my life for my good and for Christ’s glory. In His holy name I pray. Amen.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”