Sunday, November 04, 2007

Great Expectations

God is perfect. He is fully holy and righteous. He is omnipotent and omniscient. He is full of grace, wisdom, truth and love at all times.

But we, His children, are not. Although the Holy Spirit lives in us and guides us, we don't always follow His lead. We don't always make the best decisions. We don't always respond to others with grace and love. As the apostle Paul said, day by day we are being transformed--meaning that the transformation is still taking place. Until we meet God in Heaven, we will not be perfect. We will continue to struggle and stumble and, at times, really screw up. Sad, but true.

I think we tend to forget that. I think that we don't cut ourselves--and each other--enough slack. Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't spur one another on to lives of excellence, nor should we dismiss sin or not deal with the consequences of poor judgment or lack of wisdom in our actions. But too often, I act surprised when someone (particularly a dedicated Christian) makes a mistake. Too often, I place others on a pedestal high enough to give a giraffe a nosebleed. In setting expectations unrealistically high, I put others in an unfair position. And when I put such lofty expectations on myself, I inevitably become discouraged because there's no way I can achieve everything I think I need to in order to see myself as a "successful" Christian.

I was raised in a microwave generation. We are used to having things done quickly. Fast food drive thrus, pay at the pump, self check-out at the grocery store...we don't like to wait. We see it as a waste of time. The faster we can get in, get what we need and get out, the better.

While that may work for businesses, it's a recipe for disaster in our Christian walks. We're not used to having to wait for things, including answers to prayers or increased maturity levels. We expect too much, too soon from our brothers and sisters, and when they don't deliver in our self-appointed time frame, we are discouraged.

I find these unrealistic expectations creeping into my life most often when I am focused on myself and my trials. I forget that life isn't all about "me", and that's a surefire way to end up disappointed. Every now and then God knows I need a good wake-up call to my self-centered focus and He does a good job of knocking me down a few pegs and reminding me that I need to place my lofty expectatons on Him, not on myself or anyone else. It's funny how much easier it is to forgive others and be understanding and gracious toward them when I'm not so self-centered.

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