Friday, December 12, 2008


Each of my sons is, to some extent, a life-experienced philosopher. Philosopher #4 and I were having breakfast yesterday at Denny's; the most affordable place in town. I was chewing when out of his mouth came this: "If you have expectations you are setting yourself up for resentment."
"Wow," I said. "I have to process this one for a minute." Processing complete, I injected, "You're right!"
His point is, in my opinion, immune to attack. It is, as philosopher #2 would say, "Spot on!" Think about it. Whatever situation we enter in life (marriage, job...), whomever we encounter (supervisors, peers, neighbors, relatives...) when we enter with expectations (pay attention here) of outcomes, rather than, personal standards, goals, objectives...that stand independent of expectations, if our expectations are not met we are setting ourselves up for being resentful because of what others did not, could not, or would not deliver!!!
If however we reject our expectations of what we think others should do or be, while disappointments may come--and they will--we have done what we can to insulate ourselves from the corrosive effects of resentment.
Anger is the Siamese Twin of resentment. There is no surgery, yet devised, that can separate the two. The world is full of angry people. Our personal worlds are full of angry people who have nurtured resentment and cultivated anger for decades. Family gatherings are a great place to plant seeds of resentment.
Thanksgiving is the biggest day in the year when families get together. Allow me a hypothetical: You are the host/hostess for this year's dinner and are doing all the worry, all the food preparation, all the cleaning, all the cooking--except the turkey--because you expect a sister/brother to bring the turkey. There was talk of this and so this is your expectation; you own it. Family arrives but no bird. Who is most upset? you are of course. Is resentment born in your heart and mind to be borne for hours, months, decades, against the one(s) you expected to do their part? Yup, it is.
So, to try to avoid looking as dumb as a turkey they make excuses and try to plant the blame on you. Truth is, they did bring a turkey, but it was themselves. They get over it, rationalizing all the way home; over the river and through the woods. You don't. You're stuck with the curse of the dead turkey that didn't show up for dinner.
Speed-shift to spiritual applications.
What were the expectations of The Christ when He came to live as the Son of Man to save mankind? What were they? Did Jesus expect the Jews to embrace Him as the Messiah? Did He expect people to believe that He was Whom He said He was? Did he expect gratitude and worship from those he healed or fed? Jesus asked, "Ten were healed but where are the nine?" Only one leper returned to say, 'Thank You.'
Did Jesus expect there would be no insults, no mocking, no pulling-out of the beard, no wagging heads, no spitting, no flogging, no cross, no nails, no shame of nakedness, no spear in His side? You know the answers.
The amazing thing is that He endured it all without expectations. Oh, there were goals and objectives, of course; the redeeming of you and me. But we are far from Calvary in time and space; but He did it anyway. Think about this: Would you give up your life for those who hate and reject you? Most probably not.
Jesus did what He did with one objective, one goal; to save the relatively few who would say, "I believe, Lord!" Perhaps we can see more clearly how valuable we are to Jesus Christ. The saved of every age represents a fragrant remnant, a residue, distilled and purified from the masses, from the messes we call life.
Ours is not a life of mere expectations. No! It is much more. Ours is a life of hope and patiently waiting. It is coming, "I can almost hear the trumpets...of the Midnight Cry, when Jesus comes again..."
God Bless. e.c.

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