When Life is Different from Expectation

When I get older, then my life will…. When I get married, then my life will…. When I get the right job, then my life will…. We are filled with a variety  of expectations whether they are high expectations or low expectations. For the blessed/fortunate/lucky group, their dreams come true just as how it was expected; however, for everyone else, life can be very different. What do you do when your reality is different from your expectations?

A friend of mine is struggling immensely due to drastic changes that happened in a few short weeks. While her issues require professional intervention, I realize that she is no different from the rest of us who have a hard time reconciling our perfect image of what life should be with what it is. It is very hard to go through our experiences feeling completely helpless and ultimately see ourselves as failures. It is hard to step away from having blinders, tunnel vision, and our individual tales of woe. It is hard to imagine a happy existence as our life do not look quite like how we expect it.

In this day and age, resiliency and thinking outside our ‘perfect’ box seem like a thing of the past. We fall apart so easily; we become incapacitated at the first obstacle; we give up; we blame everyone and everything; we feel excess guilt and shame; we stop searching for a way out and simply accept the mess in which we stand. People stop trying to survive.

As cliché as it may sound, life is what you make of it. If I committed suicide tomorrow, then that’s what I made of my life; if I decided to go out and take a walk in the park instead of sitting inside, then that’s what I made of that moment in my life; if I choose to volunteer or help someone I know, then that’s what I made of that moment in my life. If I choose to be defeated by circumstances that are not going my way; then that is what I made of my life.

This is not to trivialize that most people will have difficulties and tragedies; however, this is a push to recognize when people have crossed the line from normal reactions to hardship or disappointments to ongoing self-defeat. In other words, we stop finding reasons to give thanks and see the other options life has to offer. Many people become so embarrassed or ashamed of their current situations which drives them to isolate or hide and so the spiral of doom begins. The thing is the average person cannot navigate life’s changes all alone. Without a trusted wingman (friends, family, therapist etc.), it is easy to get lost in one’s personal mess. As much as we need the support from others, we also need to learn to get support from ourselves.

Feel free to Google the story of Sgt. Noah Galloway  a double amputee who is one of many people whose life definitely did not go as expected, found himself in a dark hole, and ultimately found the will and strength to climb out of it.


3 thoughts on “When Life is Different from Expectation

  1. Our dreams are often a reflection of where our heart is. Is accepting that raise or that better job desirable in order to buy a home in a safer neighborhood, where your kids can go to better schools, or is it to buy a home in a more prestigious neighborhood? Is it so that you can buy a safer, more-dependable car, or is it so that you can buy a “status-symbol” car? Do you see that raise or that better job as not only getting your finances in better order, but also to enable you to give more to the work of the Lord, or, are you going to use it to go on more vacations?

    My first wife and I were in Amway for several years, but we weren’t “sellers” nor were we “success-oriented”. There is a LOT of crass-materialism in many of the Amway organizations, and ours was no exception. We were frequently encouraged to go “dream-building”, to look at homes that cost five times as much as our home, or to look at cars that cost more than our home. The “shining-stars” in the organization were multimillionaires and the lived the lifestyle to prove it. We subscribed to the “tape of the week”, but the more I listened to those tapes, the more disgusted I got. Yes, those people WERE successful, but… There were two up-line couples that we admired, not because of their success, but because of their love and genuine humility. Mike and Jude were our up-line Rubies, and the first night my wife and I went to a meeting, Jude offered to take our baby-daughter and hold her so that we could concentrate on the meeting. That was typical of Mike and Jude. Our up-line Emeralds were also loving, humble people. I heard that he could have retired from Sears, but he chose to keep working so that they could give 75% of their Amway income to the work of the Lord. The one time I met him, he drove to the meeting in a car that was even older than the ones we drove.

    I used to know three Christian doctors, a heart-surgeon(Dr. C), an oral-surgeon(Dr. B), and a dermatologist(Dr. M). Dr. C and his wife lived in a very modest neighborhood with their three daughters. He went on frequent medical-mission trips, and every morning, he and his wife flipped a coin to see who “got” to drive their small pickup, or who was “stuck” with their modest station-wagon. Dr. B had a solo-practice with a rather modest office. He and his family lived in an exclusive golf-course community, but NOT in the fanciest home in the neighborhood. He charged less for simple tooth-extractions than most dentists wanted in co-pay, in addition to what the patient’s insurance paid. Dr. B also came into our bicycle shop a few weeks before Christmas and ordered two-dozen children’s bikes of various kinds and sizes, so that he could give two-dozen underprivileged children in our church and community a bike for Christmas. Dr. M lived high on the hog. He had his own private plane, and he had a 6.5 million-dollar mini-mansion built in the same community as Dr. B. Dr. M ran a multi-provider practice, and he soaked patients for every dime he could get out of them.

    All three of them were living their “dream”. Dr. C’s dream was the least self-centered, and Dr. M’s dream was the most self-centered. BTW, one morning we looked out the window of the bike shop to find Dr. C and his wife putting new plants and flowers in the flower-box in front of the shop. Yes, Dr. C had dirt on his hands, as did his lovely wife.

    Maybe this little narrative will help give a sense of what I was trying to say. Materialism is out. Service is in.

  2. I also know a bit about dashed-dreams and unfulfilled-expectations, and even wrote a post about it, “Great Expectations”. The common thread that runs through my dashed-dreams and unfulfilled-expectations is that they were all for ME, ME, ME, ME. They were all self-centered, not God-centered. When I got married this last time, I dreamed of a retirement life of leisure, filled with fun, travel and more fun. It has been anything but, because God had other plans for me. When I have made my dreams and expectations God-centered, He has honored them beyond my wildest imagination. I started my blog with only two purposes, to give glory to God and to further His kingdom. The last time I compiled the stats, my blog has had visitors from seventy-plus countries, including several countries that are closed to outside missionaries. God has made one dream come true, and I haven’t even had to leave the comfort of my office chair. He may even enable me to do a bit of traveling this year, so that I can see a dear Christian Brother who is coming to Florida from California to be the speaker for a conference at Garden of Eden Church in Lake Como Resort. Has it always been all-work-and-no-play? No, because I have been able to take a few “mental-health” days along the way.

    Are dreams “bad”? Are expectations “wrong”? Not hardly, if they are for the right reasons.


    1. How can you always tell that you dreams are no God-centered? If you are struggling with finances and accept a raise is that you centered or God-centered or both? If you say yes to marry your spouse who seems like a faithful Christian is that you centered or God centered or both?

      God gave us our lives to live which should reflect his gift/blessing which will be both you centered and God centered. Are there obvious choices that does not reflect God? Yes because often times those choices are very black and white. Are there times when we make choices that seem like blessings but did not work out? Yes because we are very human living in a fallible world. Plus there are times when life is a teaching moment from trial and error.

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