(Photo by Lindsay O’Neil)
Enslaved to Expectations
By Maxine O’Loane
“Don’t worry, remember it’s all in God’s time not ours.” Now there’s a phrase I’ve never been a fan of hearing. I’m sure everyone’s heard this at least once in their life, whether it was about waiting for a relationship to come along, the right job opportunity, or even for an answer to something you’ve been praying for. Don’t worry, I’m not going to sit here and talk about how whatever “waiting season” you’re going through is going to get easier to deal with in time, because if I’m being honest here we all know that’s not true.
As much as I would love to focus on God’s timing when it comes to relationships (we’ll save that for another time) I feel like we need to talk about something that’s affecting people just as much. Expectations.
Recently, I came to the conclusion I’ve officially reached “that age” in my life. You know, the stage where people start to use a little phrase that goes something like, “all my friends are either getting married, having kids or at their dream job.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to have reached this point in my life, however I did think I still had at least a few years before it was going to happen. I love a good wedding and baby shower just as much as the next person, I just don’t necessarily look forward to all of the “catch up” questions that tend to come with them.
While I sincerely wish my friends and others nothing but the best, I’ve been catching myself questioning a lot of things in my life. And I know I can’t be alone in this. If you’ve gone through this you know what I mean, and if you haven’t yet, then I hope this article helps you see things differently. Anyway, as I was saying, in times like this it’s so easy to start comparing yourself to others and thinking “she’s married and has a kid” or “Wow! They already have their [insert degree] and a great job, while I’m barely getting my [degree]”. Your comparisons might be different but these are two that have been popping into my head the most lately.
By now you’re probably asking yourself “okay what does this have to do with expectations?” I’ll get to it right now. So, these thoughts I’m talking about, at least to me, are expectations I feel I need to or should have already met by now. They can obviously be different for everyone. For me it revolves around relationships; for you it could be careers, university or who’s asking whom to prom. Even though these thoughts can be motivators for some people, they can also do some serious damage.
“Wait Patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
– Psalms 27:14
One day I was reading my devotional and this verse came up. It really put things in perspective for me. We’re human so obviously we’re going to have days where we question why certain things are, or are not going on in our lives. As much as you may not want to admit it, whoever told you it’s all in God’s timing was right. We might feel pressured to meet these expectations, either the ones society put on you or some you have for yourself.
Back to the verse I mentioned before, specifically where it says “Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” This reminded me that as easy as it is to want what my friends have [marriage, degrees, etc] I don’t have them for a reason. The same goes for you; whatever you have or don’t have is because God has a plan for you and your life. Psalms 84:11 states “the Lord will withhold no good thing.” So if you’re in the same boat as me, or dealing with something similar, just know it’s natural to wonder why you don’t have this or you’re not doing what [insert name] is doing. The truth is God has you in this season of your life for a reason. The important thing to remember is not to let those thoughts “enslave” and consume your mind. Even if you think you should be doing this or that by “such and such” age the reality is God hasn’t allowed them to happen just yet and all you need to do is sit back, relax, and trust him to bring them to you in His time.
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
– Deuteronomy 7:9