Yesterday I had one of “those” kinds of days. You know the kind I’m talking about: You wake up late, rush to get dressed and grab some type of makeshift breakfast. Then you take off for work and get behind a slow driver who tests the limits of your patience. Your lunch hour is filled with personal errands so you have to stop and grab something at a mini-mart for lunch. Work seems to be nothing but putting out fire after fire with no break at all in the madness. Then you finally head for home (after working late, of course) to tackle all the personal things you need to get done but things just keep going wrong. You try to limit the negativity in your home but just can’t stand the thought that anyone around you is taking time to rest or goof off instead of doing things in the house that need to be done (dishes, laundry, you name it)! Yep, yesterday was one of those days. I even got mad at my husband because he just didn’t seem to share my irritation over things cluttering up the kitchen and living room. Was it a terrible mess? No, not at all, but I had absolutely had enough!
Days like yesterday test more than just my patience. They often wear me down and drain me of what seems like the last drop of energy I may ever have. Yes, I realize that is an exaggeration but it sure feels that way at times. As I stood over the kitchen sink doing dishes, I couldn’t help but think of all the times I have let unmet expectations drag me into the mire of anger and disappointment. Unmet expectations not only have the ability to create a frustrating day, they can also drag us into a depressive funk that can linger on for hours, days, weeks or even months at a time. It can become a cycle that begins to feed on itself. Soon we find ourselves viewing everything in a negative light or with a defeatist attitude. We start believing things never work out or that the good things really are “too good to be true” instead of celebrating the positive things in life.
All of us have expectations of the people in our lives and the world around us. We expect others to be respectful. We expect to be loved by the people we love. We expect honesty and compassion. We expect all kinds of things but sometimes we fail to see our expectations realized. I used to think it didn’t matter if my expectations were met. I also lived many years feeling as if I didn’t have the right to expect anything from anyone. It seemed selfish to expect things from others so I lived not only with the disappointment of being let down but also the guilt of having expected anything in the first place. Ugh…a double hit to the psyche! I am positive I’m not the only one who has struggled with this mindset at times.
Being let down by others is a reality of life. For me, I realized just how much my expectations of others were based on how I treated them or expressed my love and care for them. We’ve all been taught the “Golden Rule” – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It sounds fair, right? What we miss in that verse is that it says “as you would have them do unto you.” It doesn’t guarantee that our treatment of others (or the world around us) will cause us to get the same in return. It doesn’t say if we are nice and helpful that people will be the same toward us. It doesn’t say if we put others first they will put us first and it doesn’t say if we love them they will love us as well. It calls us to a higher plane that keeps us from wasting our energy seeking reciprocity OR retribution! We are all imperfect human beings and our imperfections lead us to sometimes having unrealistic expectations of others. Those imperfections also cause us to sometimes be unable to live up to the expectations of those around us. (I’ll talk about that aspect more at a later time!) I’ve been let down by people I thought were capable of certain behaviors and responses only to find out later that they just weren’t wired that way. I have been there to support, love and care for people who have been oblivious to the times when I have been the one to need the same love and care. It hurts deeply when we feel like our relationships or endeavors in life are one-sided, even if the reality is they are more equal than we are able see when we are hurting or upset. We will be disappointed in life but if we let our disappointment become the fuel for more darkness in our world then the darkness wins! Let’s go back and look at my day again with a new perspective:
- I woke up late…..becomes….I am alive.
- I got stuck behind slow drivers….becomes…I have a reliable means to get to where I’m going.
- Lunch was filled with errands and mini-mart food…becomes…I am fortunate that I can take care of personal matters during the day instead of trying to do it after hours. Mini-mart food may not be my first choice, but I am grateful to have something to eat.
- Work was full of “fires.” …becomes…I have a good job with a good company in this very difficult economy.
- I got home late…becomes…I have a place to call “home” that is safe and warm.
- My husband irritated me…becomes…I have someone who loves and accepts me as I am.
It’s amazing how different things appear when we turn on the light of the truth and shine it on the darkness of our earthly perspective! I could say “shame on me” for letting the day get the best of me but instead I choose to say “I’m human.” Thank God today is another day!