What Do You Expect?

Too many of us traffic in half-truths. We find a sensationalized headline, or a social media misquote, then use it to wield our worldview. We cling to worn out creeds without challenging their relevance on a regular basis.

Half-truths stymie our maturation. Who is willing to investigate, to dig deeper, to find the truest version of the “truth?”

I’ve been pondering some wisdom from AA, the Twelve Step fellowship that helped save my life. These sayings hang on the walls of meeting rooms. One day at a time. Easy does it. Live and let live. First things first. Progress, not perfection.

One AA motto has gripped me this past week of national turbulence. Let go of expectations, because today’s expectations are tomorrow’s resentments.


This is only half true. We all have legitimate expectations. In my life:

  • I expect justice, and when I see racist brutality in our country, I will vehemently protest and work for change. The death of my expectation for justice would equal the death of hope.
  • I expect my wife to meet me halfway in the partnership of managing our home and raising our specials needs son. This is our contract of love.
  • I expect my closest friends to be interested in my life, just as I am in theirs. If they remain self-centered, I will choose to spend less time with them.
  • I expect performance from collaborators on a project. If they slack off, I will likely not work with them again.

Having said all this, I know that expectations can also become attachments leading to grief, anger, and resentment. It happens in my life when:

  • I expect certain behaviors from others even though history teaches me otherwise. This is especially hard when I long for understanding or acceptance from certain members of my extended family.
  • I expect an external factor—some accomplishment or acquisition—to give me lasting happiness, leaving me ripe for disappointment.
  • I expect a response from my Higher Power (God, Spirit, Tao) on my timetable, ignoring that waiting is a potent part of spiritual growth.

Ultimately, learning what to expect and what to relinquish is an art, summed up perfectly in the Serenity Prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Letting go; this is key! I leave you with words from Richard Rohr, because their truth has continued to ripen in my life.

Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go…letting go of our false self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right–which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem.

How about you? What are your expectations? Are they legitimate expressions of your hopes, dreams, and personal dignity? Or, are they attachments causing you to suffer?






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s