My most memorable experience of “expectations” came in October of 2010, at a remote location in North Georgia where I was surround by 200 other people who seemed to have drunk some sort of Kool-Aid. This scene was also known as the opening night of World Race training camp.
We had all traveled many miles to come together and prepare ourselves for the year-long journey ahead. We brought tents, anxieties, backpacks, and lots of lots of expectations. I half expected this week to be a bunch of training exercises that likened to “Minute to win it” gospel presentations and overly dramatic skits that required no words, just an obvious arms outstretched at the conclusion. I expected to make friends, refresh my camping skills, and dream about the countries we would be visiting together. All of us came in with a little bit of apprehension, but figured in this “camp” atmosphere, we would be safe and happy during these 9 days.
After dinner and night of teaching, we were told to find 5 people that we didn’t know on our squad. I was shy and stuck to my U-squader, Carrie for most of the night, so all of T squad was strange to me. Our group carried a torch together and went from station to station being reminded to let go of every expectation, and marking our thumbprint at each canvas if we were ready to commit to letting those go. I didn’t want to lie, so before marking my thumb with the red print, I consciously let go of those expectations– that it would be easy, that I would know what was happening next, that I would be able to talk to my family, that it would be fun, that it would be sad and frustrating, that I would make a difference in the world….all of it. As the groups reconvened under the pavilion, we joined our canvases to make a world map, made because of our commitment to release all that we were holding on to.
All this to say, I wish this would have happened again two years later, only this time to let go of all the expectations of marriage.
Expectations are what made our marriage a bit of a murky mire during the first few months. I had held on to male stereotypes that I was expecting JB to exhibit, and we both didn’t realize our subconscious expectations that needed to be met. It was a weird journey of learning to communicate, lots of tears (all on my end), and a constant openness to forgive one another for falling short. I definitely understood why everyone kept telling us marriage is hard, and I felt so lonely in a new city and state where I so obviously didn’t fit in.
It wasn’t until February or so when things started to make sense, when we started communicating and understanding why we were hurting each other so much. We had so many expectations. About what marriage was “supposed to” be like, about the roles we were playing, about responsibilities, about how the opposite sex, everything that the marriage books told us we needed to “expect” was wrong. The atmosphere in our house had a complete shift, and we were able to let things slide, to not get offended or worked up if things didn’t work out the way we expected.
I’m not saying that we are experts at letting go of expectations, by any means. But relationships really do tend to go a lot more smoothly if you give the other person the opportunity to just be, instead of forcing a false and unnecessary expectation that won’t be met.
We are a lot happier when we don’t believe and hold on to expectations, and trying to figure out life before living it is boring anyway! Let yourself be pleasantly surprised.