Election 2012 is upon us, and political pundits from both sides are issuing dire predictions if the other party wins. From Facebook to Twitter, TV to radio, lunch rooms to dinner tables, we learn that half of us will be desperately unhappy when election results are tallied. Why? Perhaps because when our expectations are set in stone, our future prospects grind to a halt…
It’s like we wear special glasses that only allow us to pay attention to information that supports our expectations. And this is nothing new. In ancient times, a brouhaha arose between two prophets in Jerusalem who predicted different futures for the Jewish people living in exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 28). Hananiah prophesied that the Lord would break the yoke of the king of Babylon and bring the Jewish exiles home within two years. This prophesy likely appealed to the expectations of the people, and Jeremiah cautiously expressed his hope that the Lord would confirm it. But the Lord did not.
Instead, God directed Jeremiah to write a letter to the exiles in Babylon, urging them to settle in for about 70 more years, expand their families, and “seek the welfare of the city…for in its welfare, you will have welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7, NASB). Jeremiah probably challenged prevailing expectations. His letter invited readers to remove their special glasses so they could see opportunities in exile. Some of us may need to let go of rigid political expectations so we can see opportunity after final election results are announced…
Expectations have power because they color our experience. If I always expect someone to be you-fill-in-the-blank, I will likely remain blind to any evidence that they are not you-fill-in-the-blank. And that can greatly narrow or paralyze any relationship. Recently my family celebrated a birthday luncheon at a nice restaurant in which we’ve had a fair amount of poor service in the past. Four of us arrived expecting to have delicious food and fun with the birthday girl. One of us arrived with rigid expectations of poor service. Four of us observed and appreciated the excellent service we received from our waiter. One of us did not. Inflexible expectations can disrupt and paralyze our lives in many ways.
So here’s my Election Day Challenge:
- Identify any rigid expectation to which you cling.
- Ask, “How does this expectation cause pain to myself or others?
- Ask, “What will happen if I choose to let go of this expectation? How might my relationships or my experience change?
- Challenge yourself today to let go of rigid expectations.