Here’s a chart that I came up with recently, about expectations about a future event and then how rewarding the event actually ends up being. The chart shows the potential emotions a person can feel with the various levels of reward (on the vertical axis) and levels of expectation (on the horizontal axis). For example, if you have high expectations that a future event will be very rewarding to you and it’s not, you will be disappointed. It is possible that you will be less satisfied in that situation than with any other combination of reward level and expectation level.
Although I believe in having a positive outlook on the future overall, I also think that there needs to be a balance with how low or high our expectations are about any one future event. Thinking that the best is yet to come and having a sense of hope for the future in general is good. But expecting too much from any one experience can lead to disappointment. Like when you have heard great things about a new restaurant and your meal turns out to be just average, you are often more dissatisfied than if you had no, or low, expectations about the food.
So, maybe we need to try to find a balance between feeling good about life overall, but not having overly high expectations about a particular event, person, thing, or place.
Accepting – low expectation and low reward. If you keep your expectations low about a potential reward and do not receive it at all or do not receive it at the level that feels rewarding, you can feel a sense of acceptance.
Elated –low expectation and high reward. This usually will mean that you will be at a higher level of satisfaction than any other of the options. You will be more likely to be pleasantly surprised and feel more gratitude when you kept your expectations low or weren’t even anticipating a reward at all.
Satisfied – high expectation and high reward. If you have high expectations and receive a high reward, you may feel satisfied, but not at the “Elated” level.
Disappointed – high expectation and low reward. This will be the least satisfying situation and may even result in feelings of loss or failure because you fully expected the reward and did not receive it at all or did not receive it at the level you wanted.
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV
Our cat, Casey, can purr very loudly, when he is inspired to, especially when it comes to food. For sixteen years, almost every time he has eaten in our presence, he purrs while he devours his food, in sincere gratitude. A person could easily become bored with eating the same meal, every morning and every evening, but not Casey. Every meal seems brand new to him, and is always received with great excitement. The sound of him crunching his food, paired with his ecstatic purring, resonates especially loudly when he has his face deep in his food bowl. It makes my husband and I smile to hear him respond with such enthusiasm to the small gift we’ve given him.
Watching and listening to Casey recently, I thought about how God might feel when we’re truly grateful to Him for blessings he’s given us. It must give God great pleasure when we are filled with thanksgiving for all the many gifts he offers us. I realized that it also feels good to us personally when we’re grateful and when we express the love and peace we feel to others and back to God. And though it has been especially challenging for me to be thankful when life is painful and difficult, I am inspired by Paul’s and by Jesus’ examples of gratitude in the face of suffering. Even when facing persecution from others, Jesus taught us, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:12). And as I write this, Casey is purring as he lays in the sun, showing me how to be content in all circumstances.
One of my songs, “You’re Here for Me”, has a line “You’re with me in the waiting and nothing in creation can keep me from You”. It’s about how challenging it can be when you’re “not there yet” and you can’t see or can’t believe the best is yet to come. You’re trying to find the balance between accepting and loving yourself as you are, no matter what has happened in the past, and continuing to learn and grow into the person you were made to be. And trusting that God is with you as you grow in your faith.
I just read a good post about ways to stop bullying in schools, so I thought I would pass it on… it’s by Genie Stoker and it was in today’s Upper Room devotional. Here’s the link:
Ways to stop bullying
I was having “one of those” Mondays, not really trusting my new blog’s “best is yet to come” concept… then on my drive home, I looked up and saw the Honda Pilot right in front of me had a personalized license plate that said “Best to come”! And as God is my “pilot”, I guess He was trying to remind me the best really is yet to come! ;-D
What I think is interesting is how you could be the same person, saying and doing the same thing, yet you get such different perspectives and reactions from others. These two photos were taken the exact same day, a few feet from each other, yet the first one looks like it was summer and the second one looks like it was fall (it was a sunny day in October, actually). And I was the same person, but because of a change of clothes and location, I looked different from one photo to the next.
So, as you’re thinking of how the best is yet to come in your life, remember that you are, in your essence, a divinely created person, regardless of whether someone “under values” or “over values” you. Know that God sees and loves you as you are and wants only the best for you. And in the spirit of Easter, with resurrection and new beginnings, we can love and value ourselves as we are, but feel hopeful that, with positive changes we make in our lives, we can keep getting better.
There are sermons about loving God and your neighbor, but how often do you hear in a sermon that you should love yourself as well? Here is “the greatest commandment”, according to Jesus:
Matthew 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I wish I could hear a sermon that talks about the importance of loving yourself, as well as God and others. It seems like that aspect of the commandments is hidden somehow. I’m not talking about a selfish or unhealthy love of self, but a divinely inspired love of self. If you love yourself, your divine self, you are also open to loving God and others. And if you let God love through you, His love is far more powerful than any “human” love.
I hope you can see yourself in the unconditional, loving way the God sees you, so you can genuinely love yourself. No matter what you’ve done or said or been through, know that God loves you completely, without limits.