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The Difference Between Expectations and Hope

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The Difference Between Expectations and Hope

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to an audio recording of this blog post here:

Disclaimer: I wrote this for a talk I presented to wives healing from marriage betrayal trauma. I am posting it as I gave it for us and others who are on this same journey. However, the crux of the message can apply to everyone who struggles with expectations and longs to find a better way.


Expectation:
a belief that someone will or should achieve something.
Hope: a desire for a certain thing to happen. A feeling of trust.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV

I come by my ability to set high expectations naturally. It was the culture of my family and the church environment I grew up in. Now, whether they did that on purpose or not, I don’t know, I’m guessing they didn’t. But still, placing high expectations on myself and others is in my DNA. Hope, on the other hand, is not something I’m good at. But it is everything I’ve had to learn in order to survive these last few years.

I think it’s important to point out that for those of us healing from betrayal trauma, depending on where we are in the journey, our emotional state may not always be dependable. I think that’s why the revelation of the difference between expectations and hope was so pivotal for me. It makes something emotional make sense and gives me a handle to hold onto in the chaos.

My therapist recently explained to me that expectations are premeditated resentment. Boy, is this ever true! We are setting ourselves up for disappointment when we expect certain results. Hope, on the other hand, offers peace and breathes life.

Here are a few other contrasts between expectations and hope:

Expectations are based on what I want.
Hope is based on what God wants.

Expectations are based on what we can see – a measurable.
Hope is based on having faith in the unseen – the unmeasurable.

Expectations are based on human fallibility.
Hope is based on God’s ability.

Expectations are a demand steeped in human limitations.
Hope is faith based on God’s infinite possibilities.

Expectations are based on people pleasing us.
Hope is grounded in God’s perfect love for us.

Expectations are based on man’s free will to choose.
Hope is based on faith in God’s will – trusting His way is better than mine.

Expectations will always disappoint us.
Hope will never disappoint us.

Expectations are exhausting.
Hope is life-giving.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

At the end of this scripture, the author explains that God will reward those who earnestly seek him. I want this reward!

Expecting God to fix my husband or my marriage looks very different than hoping He will do what’s best for me as it fits into my chapter of the gospel story.

Read that again.

Expecting God to fix my husband or my marriage looks very different than hoping He will do what’s best for me as it fits into my chapter of the gospel story.

It’s the distinction between my will and God’s will.
It’s the difference between trusting myself or trusting God.
It’s believing that I don’t own my story—God does.

Again, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

At its core, the difference between expectations and hope is a matter of a closed fist or an open hand. It’s about faith. It’s about surrender.

Go back to the definition of hope: a desire for a certain thing to happen. A feeling of trust.

“Delight yourself (or we could say hope) in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 NIV

When I live with an expectations outlook, I am reacting from the place of my wounded child (imagine the unpleasantness of a 3-year-old stomping her foot to get her way). Hope is a response from a healed (or healing), mature adult – this woman lives in peace with herself and with her God and she is not reactionary to what others in her life do or don’t do. I want to be this woman. Don’t you?

Expectations are demands for human performance.
Hope is a desire for God’s plan.

Of course, I don’t expect you (or me) to get this down. My therapist often reminds me that no one gets anything right 100% of the time. But, I do hope that you will consider trying. Try to shift your perspective from expecting things to happen from your will to placing hope in Christ—who is 100% trustworthy and faithful.

I encourage you to begin noticing when you’re feeling frustrated that someone, namely your spouse, is not measuring up to or meeting your needs. (I typically feel this in my body when my brain feels overwhelmed, my arms tighten, and my chest constricts. Notice this feeling in your body. Our bodies tell us things all the time—we just aren’t in the habit of listening to it.) Consider whether you’re expecting, or maybe even demanding, them to do something. Then try to reframe it in light of the hope of what God can do with the situation. The more we practice this, the better at it we’ll get. I’m still practicing, believe me.

Consider that you text or email a link to a video to your husband. You could type, “I want you to watch this video about betrayal trauma.” or “I hope you will watch this video about betrayal trauma.” Which text do you think would best motivate your husband to watch the video?

Your husband can then decide what he will do. Remember the “C” that states, “You can’t control him.” Put your hope, your faith, your trust, in how God will respond, not your husband. And then, the fourth “C”, you can choose what you need to do for your own healing. (In healing from betrayal trauma, we learn about The Four C’s: You didn’t CAUSE the betrayal. You can’t CONTROL your husband. You can’t CURE your husband. You can CHOOSE to embrace your healing.)

Grounding Exercise:
Connect your hands to your body somehow. You can place them on your legs, on your stomach, heart, or you can cross your arms, whatever is comfortable for you. Ensure your whole body is connected to itself.

Place your feet firmly on the floor. Press the soles into the floor a little. (This is especially helpful when you can do it outside in the grass with bare feet but for now, doing this where you are is a good example of how you can ground yourself anywhere you happen to be.)

Close your eyes if that helps to eliminate distraction. Imagine your whole being connecting deep down into the depths of the earth, if this isn’t comfortable for you or feels scary, that’s okay. Focus only on the soles of your feet touching the floor.

In your minds-eye, connect the top of your head down through the soles of your feet and go as deeply as you can into the ground.

Focus back on the soles of your feet. If your mind has wandered this is okay. Distraction happens. Just come back and reconnect yourself to the soles of your feet to the ground.

“Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 NIV

Allow yourself to sink your roots in deep and draw from the Life-Giving Source. Stay silent for just a bit and give yourself a chance to remain grounded. Take a few long and deep breaths.

Now, pray this breath prayer as you inhale and exhale. The inhale should be four counts in and the exhale should also be four counts out.

Inhale: I receive your will, Lord.
Exhale: I surrender mine.

Repeat it again—as many times as you want to.

Inhale: I receive your will, Lord.
Exhale: I surrender mine.

I hope you feel encouraged. Is there something here that prompts you to think about making a change?

Expectations vs. Hope

 

Resources:

Community:
If you’re looking for community in your journey of healing from betrayal trauma, you can find a safe, supportive, and encouraging place to belong here, Wives Care.

Books:
Shattered Vows
Try Softer

Videos:
Infidelity Trauma Part 1
Infidelity Trauma Part 2

Online Resource:
AffairRecovery.com

Music:
Hope in Healing (Spotify Playlist)

 


If you’d like this exclusive, hand-lettered graphic (high quality, sans watermark) to print out or to use on your phone, subscribe to receive occasional email updates from me you will receive it as a free download.

About Andrea

A stumbling pilgrim and gatherer and sharer of stories. Let's walk intentionally to hope.

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