Jesus wasn't happy. And you won’t be either.

Jesus wasn’t happy. And you won’t be either.

What got under Jesus’ skin? The traditions and expectations foisted upon people that His Father had nothing to do with.

Whatever happened to the always “nice” Jesus when He spoke to these tradition-junkies, “You hypocrites . . . you have let go of the commands of God, and are holding on to human traditions”? (Mark 7.6-8)

Jesus isn’t always ticked at traditions or expectations (to the disappointment of some of us whose tradition has become having no traditions!) They can, and often do serve good purposes. But when our traditions and our expectations have grown bigger, or more permanent than God’s, Jesus isn’t happy. And neither are we--the tradition-imposers, the tradition-sufferers, tradition-questioners or the expectation-busters. Sunday May 29 we talked together about traditions and expectations, and God’s clear, unchanging life-giving promises and commands—you can eavesdrop here.

Most of our expectations come from childhood. Sometimes from a very happy home. Perhaps your mom always did the cooking and housecleaning and seldom wandered from home. That seemed to work for your family. Good. But if you go into marriage thinking that’s God’s only and right way, you may be in for real disappointment. (The noble wife in Proverbs 31 might disagree with your “all moms stay at home” approach.) Or if your dad had a great job and you seldom wanted for much, you may become angry when your husband isn’t able to live up to your dad’s level of provision.

Some of our expectations come from painful, unresolved stuff in our childhood. We expected our parents to love, nurture, protect and affirm us. Painfully, some adults are unable or unwilling to love their children in these ways. When they don’t, we may feel disappointed, abandoned, unloved. That’s sad, and very painful. What we didn't receive from our parents in terms of nurture, affection, protection, and encouragement, we project onto others. We expect our friends to provide that which was missing during childhood. We assume, and then demand, then become critical and angry, then bitter that our spouses or friends or church are unable to deliver and satisfy our deep needs.

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James P. Krehbiel, a wise counselor and author writes: “Invariably, unrealistic expectations are connected to issues of power, manipulation and control. We might embrace an underlying assumption which says, ‘People must act the way I want them to, or else I have no use for them.’ Another twist on this theme is filled with rage and anger. It goes, ‘People better act the way I want them to, or else I will pay them back!’ Many times these assumptions are behind patterns of physical and emotional abuse. One partner will try to manipulate and control the behavior of their mate in order to get what they want. If the abused partner refuses, conflict ensues.”

Jesus wasn’t happy with unrealistic expectations. And you won’t be either. Ask God the Holy Spirit to help examine the expectations you have brought into your relationships. Are they fair? Realistic? Healthy?

It’s sometimes touchy and difficult, but take time to talk with one another about your expectations. Maybe with a gifted, trained Christian counselor. Have the two of you communicated, negotiated and agreed? Are you flexible, pliable, willing to adjust expectations in different seasons of life? Can your spouse or friend really ever satisfy you in this area? Is this expectation realistic? Where did this tradition or expectation come from? (Remember Teyve and his “traditions” from Fiddler on the Roof?)

Rather than assume or impose our expectations -- like the play-actors Jesus speaks so strongly to in Mark 7 who assumed their expectations ought to be everyone’s expectations! -- on each other, how about backing off?

Expect less.

And do the unexpected.

Empty the dishwasher with a smile when it’s not your turn. Plan an outing that you know your spouse or friend will really enjoy. Surprise someone with an unexpected gift, or note, or word of encouragement. How about a Panera gift card or better yet, inviting a friend out for coffee? Or how about telling ‘em “why don’t you go to the Padres game with your buddies this week?”

Expect less. Act wonderfully, unexpectedly more.

Isn’t that what Jesus did on the cross, for us?

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5.6.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2.3

Hold traditions and expectations loosely.

Wrap your life around His commands—He’ll empower and enable you to love and obey Him, Ezekiel 36.26-27.  Ask Jesus to empower you to be more like Him.

Jesus will be happy. You’ll be happier. And the people you’re closest to will be as well.

 

 

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