Empty Expectation and Full Hope

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Expecting can be detrimental, while hoping gives room to grow


It was a fresh start. A new place with new people and a new me, or so I thought

When I was off to college there was a surge of excitement knowing I would be five hours from home, in a completely different atmosphere. It was my chance to be the person I knew I really was. The person who doesn’t stuff her face in lockers to cry at school, the person who doesn’t eat three brownies when she shouldn’t have eaten any at all, or the person who trips and drops meatballs on white dresses. I saw myself as a social butterfly of sorts, sophisticated and confident. Leaving an air of awe when I left the room. I also had the perfect timeline written out in stone: college, career, marry, have kids, and then sit on the porch and knit with a yard full of grandbabies. Not long after moving, the expectations came crumbling down and my perfect timeline broke in two.

About a week in, I had already cried in a professor’s office, eaten ice cream every day, and was tripping just the same. I was shattered, utterly broken that I couldn’t meet the expectations I had set for myself. There was a discrepancy between the ideal me and the actual me.

Expectations can be tricky. Often times people tell me to have expectations, but I always feel as though that creates a box. When you place expectations on someone, do they feel confined? When we expect God to show up in a certain way or to do a certain something, does that curtail his unlimited nature? For humans, expectations can be detrimental to relationships and life satisfaction. If you expect to be rich in money, but it never happens, then your life feels worthless. If you expect your husband to be a certain way and he never is, then your heart grows cold toward him.

Expectations can become unrealistic fantasies with emotions invested into them.

However, I like the word hope. It is faith in motion, believing something to be, but not limiting. There is room to breathe with hope and it doesn’t breed negativity. You never here, “I hope I stub my toe today.” When you do in fact stub your toe, it is not as devastating because a hope is not definite like an expectation. You move on and hope the next day that you will not stub your toe.

Expectation is creating the best future in your imagination, while hope is believing for a good future in reality.

I hope that one day I will have pet goats, but my hope for God is greater so, if I never get a goat, I will be OK.

In a way, expectation is the glass half empty and hope is the glass half full. Expectation is all or nothing while hope sees a sliver of something as good. Hope desires a brimming glass, but does not expect it to always be so.

Instead of expecting, begin hoping. Some situations may call for expectation, but all situations call for hope. It is a better investment of emotion and time. Jesus shared a lot of hope, but didn’t expect us to fully understand Him. He met us where we were and gave us hope that we won’t stay there.

If God doesn’t put expectation on us, then we shouldn’t put expectation on Him.

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