…people are not always who we think they are. Expectations and perceptions are interesting (and freaky)concepts we deal with in life. The reality is: a lot of our choices and behaviors are driven by the expectations and perceptions that others have of us. At the same time, our own expectations and perceptions of ourselves and others cause much of our own disappointments and relationship issues. We act in a way we think others expect or that gets a certain response from others and that somehow validates us when it isn’t what we wanted to do or have people think at all. We have unrealistic expectations of people and get disappointed or perceive motives of others that are not true or don’t exist. Like I said, freaky concepts.
However, to suggest that we lower or have no expectations, or not care at all about what others may think of us isn’t right either. So where is the balance? How do we decide who to be and how to act and respond to perception and expectations? Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I have the answer, or at the very least have not entirely figured out how to apply the answer in my own life.
I have spent the majority of my 50+ years attempting to “be myself” (whatever that means) and have come to realize that I have inadvertently fueled misconceptions about myself and my motives by actually trying too hard. It has been a disappointing realization that I find myself feeling as if I need to defend or explain myself…I want to say “THAT’S NOT ME…I’M NOT LIKE THAT”…but then realize that I have, in effect, given people the impression that it IS who I am. Wanting to be liked or accepted by others I have jokingly made a caricature of my weaknesses and over compensated where I am insecure and it has come back to bite me in the “you know where”.
My mistake! A result of not understanding what GOD expected of me and who HE saved and created me to be. That’s just it: He accepts me, warts and all yet patiently and lovingly molds me into a women with purpose and value. He enables us to actually accomplish great things, in spite of our humanity, through a relationship with Him. He does not put us in a box of past mistakes, failures or even personality traits. Surrendered to Him those weaknesses and “traits” become His strength and gifts to encourage and minister to others and be blessed and fulfilled in our lives regardless of others, or our own, limiting expectations and perceptions. I can be secure in who He created me to be. I am still coming to grips with this.
For example: It may come as a shock to those who know me but I do NOT like getting up front of people even though it is a large part of what I do. I do NOT like being the center of attention…really! I actually ENJOY working behind the scenes and serving. Planning things for others. And even though it is true that at times I do not have a problem communicating (Duh!) and feel compelled to share something I feel passionate about, I have learned to actually “shut up” and enjoy it, not needing to be heard or right…well, most of the time:).
It is true that I do NOT like cleaning and I am not a perfect housekeeper. But years ago I learned the discipline and benefit of keeping an organized house….maybe not like my mother but definitely not a pig sty:) and I enjoy having a (relatively) clean house. I have for years planned my own birthday party…but contrary to what some may think, it is not because I want presents and attention, but because I genuinely enjoy and love spending time with friends and family…After all, I AM a people person. And even though it is very obvious I AM a people person, I have come to relish time alone and quiet. I love being in my room and listening to the noise, conversation and sometimes chaos outside but not being in the middle of it.
I want to live a life free from the bondage and limitations that come from trying to live up to other peoples misguided, and sometimes just plain wrong, perception of me and “unrealistic” expectations…and I realize that the fact that I have even admitted struggling with this also may come as a shock to some. At the same time, I want to sincerely care about others and be sensitive to their needs. I do not want to intentionally offend anyone. I want to be God’s woman: a blessing and encouragement to those I come in contact with, but without apology for who I am at the same time. Embracing who God has created me to be in order to serve others. It does not have to be about ME any more, it actually never was. It just took a while to realize.
I hope that this introspective (maybe even seen as self-serving:) rant will help you first, realize that you are valuable to God just as you are… regardless of the box others may see you in, and allow Him to heal the hurts and insecurities that limit you and allow you to freely live the life and fulfill the purpose HE has for you. And secondly, to take time to really get to know the people in your life and not put them in a box that you may think you see them in. Allow the Lord to give you a fresh perspective of those around you and give them the freedom to be all that God created them to be. You just may be pleasantly surprised…or shocked:) at what you discover.
(Rom 12:10 NIV) Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Rom 15:7 NIV) Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
(Gal 5:13 NIV) You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love.
(Psa 139:13-16 NIV) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.