Expectations have been a hot topic. I really like and appreciate what both Jane and Harriet have said, even though their words are different from each other. They have given me a lot to think about.
I wasn't planning on writing an expectation post. This post just sort of happened due to what I studied this morning and the prompting I had to try to put to words all the thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head.
I don't know exactly what my definition of expectations is. I think I would go for a happy medium between both of what those marvelous women have said. At some point, I have expected and seen the bitter disappointment from my expectations falling short. I have expected my husband to conquer his addiction (back when I didn't really understand it) quickly out of his love for me. I have expected him to notice and say something (he always *winkwink* notices, just not always says it to me...) when I wear a new outfit, cut my hair, do the dishes without asking him for help, make the bed, etc, and been disappointed when he has fallen short. I have expected a lot from him, and sometimes it is really not healthy.
As I have experienced healing and recovery, my view of expectations has changed. I realized this while I was studying humility this morning in the study and understanding section of step 7. Now, to me, it is more of a hopeful optimism (as Harriet has said). I expect, in a hopefully optimistic kind of way, my husband to keep his covenants. When he doesn't, because he does mess up, I expect him to repent, and I also expect myself to forgive him and still keep my covenants.
I don't force my husband to do anything. I have worked really hard on my codependent tendencies and obsessive desire to control what he does. I'm not like that anymore (most of the time). I just optimistically hope that when he messes up, he will have the confidence, courage, and humility to tell me. I expect that he will confess and forsake his sins, and that we will work on recovery together. I expect that he will work harder next time. And, I truthfully expect that we will have a celestial marriage. That is an optimistic hope. It can happen.
Humility is crucial in all this. Like I said, I had these realizations while studying humility today.
"When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities" (Ezra Taft Benson, see page 44 of the ARP guidebook).
Humility, step 7, is the greatest act of my love for God so far. Ultimately, through step 7, I am trying to become more like Christ. I am trying to take that change of heart I experienced in step 6 another step further. I am trying to become a new person by allowing God to remove (help remove) my character weaknesses. I am sincerely trying to give up my weaknesses, pride, and will because I love God, and He expects me to use my journey in life to become better. Out of my love for Him, I am trying to fulfill His expectation, which requires humility.
When I first started the 12 steps, my definitions of expectations would have been something extreme. It was more along the lines of forcefulness (it has to happen because I expect it). I went through the whole program, and my heart was considerably softened. Now, I am more than halfway done with my second time through the 12 steps, and my heart has been more than considerably softened. My first time through really helped with my codependency, and my second time through is really changing me.
One of the character weaknesses I am working on changing right now is my inability to cope well with change. Along with my inability to cope well with change lies stress and anxiety. All of those things relate to how I view expectations. If I expect things forcefully, with an extreme desire for whatever I'm expecting to actually happen, I freak out when the expectations aren't met. My body balls up, my head clouds over, and my stomach ties in knots. That is something I am seriously working on. It's a huge character weakness for me. If I expect things with a hopeful optimism while drawing nearer to Christ and humbly praying for the help and strength I need to deal with whatever disappointment comes my way when my expectation hasn't been met, then that is a huge step for me. And if I expect in a hopefully optimistic kind of way, then I can deal with the disappointment from unmet expectations in a more Christlike manner.
Everyone has different views of expectations. I'm in the process of figuring mine out with what is healthy and appropriate for me. What I am trying to overcome is the forceful type of expectation that I used to have.I want a more Christlike type of expectation. As I have delved deeper into step 7, I am seeing more and more how the power of the Atonement can change me and how much truly better off I am with Christ on my side.