A long while back, my friend Brittney (I think) and I had a discussion about expectations. It’s really easy to get impatient if you set unrealistic expectations on people. You expect them to live up to some standard you’ve set that they don’t even know about, and get frustrated with them when they don’t meet the expectations you’ve set. “How dare you not know you should behave exactly like this!” we think. We can also feel more than frustration — hurt, betrayal, resentment — depending on the situation.
Proverbs 19:11 says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” I don’t take this verse to mean people’s offenses should never have consequences; instead, I think of it more as being Godly to understand people are people and they are sinful and they make mistakes — I shouldn’t put someone on a pedestal and then be upset when they fall. People (including myself) are affected by a hundred different things – temperament, health, stress level, life situation, exhaustion, hunger, etc. I should show people the same understanding I would hope for if I were, say, having a bad day.
This month, when I found myself impatient with someone or something, I tried to check my expectations of the situation and the people involved. Because of the sort of private nature of these sorts of things, I’m hesitant to write about them here. But I will say that when I found myself getting impatient and frustrated with people, I asked myself, “What do I really expect from this person and this situation?” And a lot of times I’d realize I was asking more than the person could give or than the situation required. And I just lowered my expectations a little and it helped me get through the moment.
I also found myself checking my own expectations about how life should be. I have talked about discontentment here before, and I think having unrealistic expectations about my life and my situation is one of the things that makes me so impatient to get on with the future. I feel like I should have reached certain milestones by this time in my life and I haven’t — but that is an unrealistic expectation. God doesn’t promise life will work out like I think it should. He just promises He’s got my back and we’re doing this life thing together. So I have to toss out those other expectations and realize the life He has given me is so beautiful and bountiful and exciting. Why would I trade that for what I think is “normal”?
So am I more patient now than I was on July 1? I’m not sure. I don’t necessarily feel that way, actually. I think it’s partially that I have a bunch of exciting things coming up in the next few months (Canada! Twice! Sewing Summit! Tough Mudder!) and I’m impatient for them to get going. My day-to-day patience has probably increased a little, though I still find myself taking exasperated breaths and being frustrated with certain people and situations. Patience requires practice — I think I need another month.
Too bad! It’s August tomorrow — let’s talk kindness!