Exploring Expectations vs. Reality
In our Wisdom Note for today, we want to explore the difference between the expectations and realities of life. Using the analogy of a mountainous hiking trip, when you start out the trail is smooth and wide, and you think, “Wow! This is going to be easy.”
In the same manner, as we start into adulthood we think we know so much about life we feel that we have it all together. We often believe our parents and older associates have missed the boat somehow.
We plan out our lives with dreams and ambitions, and we feel that the road to success will be typically smooth. Then we get busy living life, and the years just rush by. Before you know it, you are in your 50s and 60s wondering, “What just happened?”
If you have not reached that point in your life yet, realize that it will also happen to you and be prepared for life’s mountains and valleys and the trail’s twists and turns. No matter what age you are or what season of life you are in, it is never too late to remember to enjoy and celebrate life each day, regardless of how rough the path is. This is what makes life worthwhile.
Let’s look at what the wisest man who ever lived had to say about life. This was King Solomon, who was the king of all Israel from approximately 970 – 931 BC. Towards the latter years of his reign, he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes and saw life from this perspective. In chapter 1:8-9 he wrote, “Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.”
So we see that life is full of unexpected results, especially when our desire and pursuit is for more stuff.
Solomon also wrote in Chapter 2:24-26, “So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him.”
These are choices that we need to make early and often in life. Yes, work hard and succeed in whatever you are called to do, but take time to enjoy it.
Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. I am all for planning and dreaming, I always have many ideas and plans in my head, written down, and in some measure of completion. But, I also understand that the road to success is rarely smooth, and the trails of life are strewn with obstacles.
When we realize this and plan accordingly, then we can set up expectations accordingly. This is one way that we grow in wisdom. Learning the art of managing expectations for ourselves and others is a key element in success and happiness in life.
As we look back on the trails of life that we have traveled so far, or if look forward to the mountains and valleys that are in our future, we need to realize that this is the stuff that life is made of. We don’t need to give up during the difficult times because we are prepared for them, we expect them, and we should even desire them because growth happens when life does not go according to plan.
Christine Haussler said it well, “You gotta wonder why we cling to our expectations when it’s the unexpected that truly changes our lives.”
Regardless of how difficult the realities of life are, especially in light of our expectations, we would do well to follow the exhortation of the letter that was written to Hebrew Christians that were struggling with the realities of life during the 1st century AD.
In chapter 12:1-2, we read, “ Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
As this scripture points out, let us encourage and assist each other to deal with and embrace the realities of life. In doing so, we will grow in wisdom and create a living legacy.