We say goodbye a lot in life:
Goodbye to loved ones gone way too soon.
Goodbye to loved ones we’ve had for a long time.
Goodbye to friends that move away.
Goodbye to TV shows we binge watch on Netflix and then feel so alone when it’s over. (I never do this, by the way…. 🙂 )
Goodbyes to work friends when we move on to staying home with our kiddos.
Goodbye to a home when we move.
Goodbye to bad habits we kick.
Goodbye to our sin when Jesus saves us by His grace.
But I feel like there is one thing we forget to say “goodbye” to. We don’t always consider the need to say Adios because we don’t always pay attention to their presence.
We all have them – for everything and everyone.
We expect friends to always be loyal. We expect family to always be around (thankfully, mine always has been…but I realize that isn’t always the case for others).
We expect the coffeemaker to start brewing at 5:00AM like we set it (or maybe thought we set it to 5:00AM but actually set it PM!).
We expect to finish our checklist, our kids to behave, our husbands to come home, and so on.
One thing I have never really considered was how “goodbye” and “expectations” can go together. As in, saying goodbye to our expectations.
I have been reading A LOT about children and personalities and homeschooling and love languages. After all my reading, I feel like I had no clue who my kids were until recently! 😉 One thing that consistently jumped out at me from all those books was that parents have expectations…from the time they find out they are having a baby! I kept thinking “no, I didn’t have any. I just was excited to have a baby!” And then I started thinking about how many expectations I had.
I expected to have a smooth pregnancy and easy delivery. I expected the baby to breastfeed and do it well from the get-go. I expected each baby to sleep through the night in the first few months (you’d think I would have let go of that one after my second loved-to-nurse-all-night baby, but nope!). I expected them to self-soothe. I expected them all to potty train when I was
ready tired of diapers. I expected them all to listen to Mom and “obey right away.” I expected them all to love school and learning and books and listening to Mom for lessons and excel in every single subject. I expected them to learn a certain way, to receive love a certain way, to give love a certain way, to respond to things a certain way, etc.
The reality was I had a TON of expectations. And I do not think one of them was realistic…at all. They were lovely dreams, but I made them into goals and obsessions and then disappointments. And I became an angry mom. None of the kids behaved. None were doing well in school. None cleaned their rooms well. None of them listened to a single thing I said. None of them brought me joy. (yikes! yep, I said it.)
Just being honest here…
Everything I expected of them became exactly who I thought they should be or what they should be doing, and I started letting my emotions lead. I was just angry that they weren’t who I thought they should be. People at church or family or friends would speak highly of my kids, but I couldn’t see it. Oh sure, they behave in public. But have you seen their room that I asked them to clean 10 times? Or have you seen how poorly they listen at home??
I was totally missing the fact that it is not I who determine who my children will be. GOD created them and put in each of them a desire for Him – it is up to my children if they will follow His leading. It is up to HIM who they will be. And whether or not they met my expectations was totally irrelevant. (“The only thing our kids need to know is to follow hard after Christ. Who cares if they go to Harvard if they are going to Hell.” – Shelene Bryan)
“God uses children not because of who their parents are but IN SPITE OF who their parents are.” I laughed when I heard that. It isn’t me that determines how effective my children will be for the Lord. God uses them in spite of me and my ridiculous expectations! Of course, I should be leading them to God by way of my parenting but ultimately their effectiveness for Him is not because of anything I have done. That is all God!
Unfortunately, I had gotten a big head and assumed I was responsible for my kids’ failures or for them excelling spiritually.
Don’t get me wrong – I have a HUGE responsibility as a parent to “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22:6)! BUT, I am not the one who determines the outcome. I am not responsible to get my kids to obey every word that comes out of mouth. I mean, have you heard some of my demands?? They can be quite ridiculous! It isn’t ME I am teaching them to ultimately obey – it is God! I don’t think God has ever told me to “just be quiet for a minute, I need to post this response!!” 😉
I have been learning to SAY GOODBYE TO EXPECTATIONS. In the end, my expectations are what ruin me. My expectations aren’t godly (they could be, but most of mine are not). My expectations rob me of my joy. They put a barrier between me and my kids. They give me anger toward my husband. They create a jealousy when I see other kids being more well-behaved. They bring massive disappointment when my expectations are not lived up to, when (really) it is impossible for my children to ever meet my expectations!
Saying goodbye is hard, but it is totally necessary. I cannot hold onto these ungodly expectations.
I cannot expect my kids to be the best in every subject.
I cannot even expect my kids to love schoolwork.
I cannot expect my kids to listen to every single word and obey every single time. They are sinful humans (we all are!). Do I listen every time? No. Do I obey right away every single time? No. I cannot expect children to do it if I, as a seasoned Christian, do not do it?!
I cannot set adult expectations on children. For example, I often expect my three-year old to carry his plate to the sink without dropping crumbs. Or for him to sit perfectly still at the dinner table while we all eat in silence. HAHA! Have you seen my husband and I eat?? He taps his foot on the floor, I am up out of my chair a million times, and we chatter on like little girls the whole meal!
So here I am, saying goodbye to my expectations. And saying hello to God’s will.
I can expect God to have His will. (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11)
I can expect Him to guide us in our schooling choices, our parenting challenges, and in our desire to see our children come to know Him. ( “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go…” Psalm 32:8)
I can expect that I will ONLY find joy if I am seeking His will. (Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” Psalm 119:111)
And just like that, I feel a million times lighter. (ok, not just like that….because in true Angie fashion, I have been trying to hold on to a few of my expectations. so, the joy is coming back, but only as quickly as I am willing to let go!)
I cannot control the future (“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT) – I can barely control how frizzy my hair is each day!
I cannot control my children’s every action – I am lucky if my three-year old gets his pants down far enough not to pee on the back of them!
I cannot control how well my kids hear – unless their ears are clogged with wax,… THAT I can get taken care of.
I cannot control everyone else’s mood – I can control how I react to situations, Who I trust with the situations, and my example to my children during the situations by not displaying anger all the time. (James 1:20ESV – “for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”)
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 ESV)
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)
Just a couple of verses there that I have been remembering. I can control nothing EXCEPT whether or not I will rely on God. 🙂
Goodbye expectations! Hello God’s Will!