Breaking Through Barriers: When Expectations Affect Identity

Last week I left you with this question: In what ways could I enjoy life now without giving up these simple dreams forever?

After my thirtieth birthday, I began to consciously work through this question. I reframed how I viewed my current life and dug out these expectations I was holding onto. I expected specific simple dreams to be filled and desires to be met. I had unrealistic expectations because I don’t see my limitations. Other people do. But I don’t. The greatest tension in my life is when my unlimited mental expectations meet my very limited physical reality.

I expected God to write my story a certain way. I lived in a kind of waiting mode, placing my identity in what I hoped would happen.

I expected independence to look exactly like it did during college. One day. But I turned 30 and found the invisible deadline attached to these undefined expectations.

Instead, God was teaching me about focus and giving me a deeper understanding of trust. Eventually I learned I have to do what I know to do today and place the future in God’s very wise hands.

I tried to answer another question, “What does this look like?”

What does it mean to focus and trust?

I couldn’t answer any of my questions overnight. And I couldn’t fully answer them on my own.

A few days later, I was talking on the phone with a college friend. She challenged and encouraged me to stop being passive. To reach out to someone with my questions. This wasn’t the first time I had considered the idea. She was right. I was tired of listening to fears and feeling stuck in the waiting mode. It was time to understand the expectations I had yet to name.

With the help of a life coach, we began the intentional journey together. I asked my questions. She asked more in reply. This ongoing dialogue was the space to explore “these expectations and simple dreams” I had been carrying in my heart. Then we could walk to the other side and find that place of trust. We realized I have a big part in my future. It’s not God doing all the work while I wait for things to happen. I needed to take action. Start being more present. With every decision, I started asking myself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen? What is the best? And what if the best is the outcome that happens?” This reframed the way I thought about everything.

My courage multiplied.

All it took was a little “yes” from me as I stepped out and took a chance. These yeses happened in various ways.

I started a small group.
I became a preschool Sunday school teacher.
I met new people and invested in new friendships.
I began to write.

I could do these things today.

I didn’t plan to do any of these things, but I was willing to say yes. In my wrestling, I found strength to let go and move forward.

 

These expectations also affected my daily life and I will tell you about that next week.