When I was a little girl, I watched my mom worship and serve God. I saw her love for Him, and I listened as she instructed me in the truths of God. And as I grew up, I wanted to serve the Lord well, because I knew He was true. Mama and I had lots of conversations about the Bible and how it instructs us.
But somewhere along the line, some of the things my mom taught me got lost in translation. I suppose I misinterpreted or misheard what she said. But every once in a while, Mama and I will be talking and she'll say something that surprises me. When I express my surprise, she often has no idea why I would think she believes differently.
As a people pleaser, I tend to put pressure on myself to believe what my loved-ones believe. I often buy into the big, fat lie that if I don't agree with them on something, I'll disappoint them or make them mad. Obviously, that's not the right way to look at things, and my loved-ones don't feel that way, but in my mind, it makes sense.
So when I had all these false ideas about what my mom believed, I also expected myself to believe them. I went off to college and was challenged on some of my biblical interpretations. But when I realized that I might not agree with everything I thought my mom believed, I panicked. I thought she'd think I was a heretic, or be mad at Taylor because he was one of the main people who challenged my views.
I had placed unnecessary expectations on myself- expectations that were causing fear in my life.
God and ExpectationsI am learning now that first of all, just because my mom or husband believes something, doesn't mean I am obligated to agree with them. They may be people who have godly wisdom to give, but they are not the Bible. I should go there first.
But secondly, I am learning that Christians are free from human expectations, but bound by Christ's expectations.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. A yoke is something that is attached to an ox as he plows the land. The ox is bound by the yoke, but the yoke helps him stay on course when the Master is steering.
God's yoke is similar.
When God gives us expectations, we are bound by them. We must live by them if we want to please God and give glory to Him. He doesn't place arbitrary expectations upon us, but only those that are good and beneficial.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light. This doesn't mean that life will be easy for us, but it does mean that God is taking care of us and His yoke will be kind. Everything God does and everything that God expects of us is for our good and His glory.
Christian ExpectationsDon't allow yourself to confuse expectations from God and expectations of man. God's expectations are clear in His word. We may not always like what we are expected to do (our sinful hearts will kick and scream sometimes), but we must live by Christ's expectations out of love and reverence for Him.
But living our lives for Christ doesn't mean living by other Christian's expectations of us. Just because the pastor's wife asks you to bake 10 dozen cookies for the bake sale does not mean you have to do so. If you are able and willing to help, that's great, but declining to bake cookies does not make you a bad Christian.
Likewise, just because the doors to your church are opened on Sundays for two services and Sunday school, on Tuesday for small groups, and Wednesdays for another service, does not mean you have to be there for all of them. Yes, God wants us to worship Him with other believers- He wants us to go to church- but that does not mean you need to sign up for every event your church is putting on, nor do you have to attend every service. Some people feel obligated to do that, but that is a man-made expectation. The pressure to be in a church pew every time the doors are opened is not an expectation God has for you.
Saying No and Saying YesGet comfortable with saying "no" to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes they will place unfair and unnecessary expectations on you, but you do not have to accept those expectations.
Conversely, be willing and prepared to say "yes" to God's expectations, whether you like them or not. We may not like that He expects us to wait until marriage to have sex, or that He expects us to forgive even when we have been hurt deeply by someone we love, but what He expects of us is not only non-negotiable, but it is also good for us.
Christians, we should be living by God's expectations. He will not fail us, so we should do what He asks of us- we should live in His ways. We are not slaves to the opinions and expectations of others, and other people are not bound by what we expect of them either. Look to God's word to find what is required of us- to find God's expectations- and stop allowing your own self-imposed expectations to dictate your life and the lives of those around you.