It was not quite December 1 and my Facebook status read, “I’m feeling sick, I think I’ll throw up Christmas ALL OVER MY HOUSE #dontjudgeme #joytotheworld #takeitruss.” I airplayed Christmas songs, twirling about with glitter falling from my tree without a care in the world. My justification was, traditionally I “throw up” Christmas after too much stuffing and pumpkin pie, but plans to travel had us getting back when the world started spinning again after Thanksgiving break. After 7 1/2 years of marriage, I bribed my husband with the promise of pot roast to help me put the lights on the tree. I always hate asking if he will help decorate because he is too busy hunting and gathering, but he sat for a moment and quizzically asked me, “What is it that makes you love Christmas so much?” My own answer surprised me.
I told him that being a woman is hard. Being a firstborn is even harder. When you are a traditionalist like me, you recognize that you will be the one carrying on family traditions as well as creating your own. I responded, “There are a lot of expectations I have to live up to. Christmas is one I have down. I know I can make Christmas, and it will be awesome.”
I kept decorating and began letting my thoughts wander into the reality that being a good Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, human being is a lot of pressure for women these days. We have Pinterest, Martha Stewart, and Jesus to live up to (and no these are not all in the same category, but you get my point). How in the world are we supposed to measure up? I’m literally surveying my finished winter wonderland when images of my friend’s Christmas tree last year that can only be described as “redonkulous” begin to cloud my view of my own domesticity. Then there is a yuck moment where I remember someone’s Facebook pic that gave me a view of their home, and I get mad because that thing on their mantle must be handmade off Pinterest and it is NOT a Pinterest fail. I quit throwing up Christmas and start throwing up all the negative thoughts, insecurities, and comparisons that are taking over the sweet thoughts I was having while setting up my nativities. I emotionally go from domestic goddess to a regular contributor to “Pinterest fail” in a matter of moments because I let myself go there.
Christ wants me to be humbly submitted to Him…I’m actually revealing my pride when I set expectations for myself.
We set expectations as women. We set expectations for ourselves so we don’t fall short. This culture marks our lives by the visual quality of our milestones. Many of us want the food to be good, people to feel at home, the wedding to be perfect, the baby shower to be the blessing of a lifetime for our dear friend. These are all good things that are often selfless and come from a place in our hearts that makes us the nurturing, caring, big hearted women we are. BUT why do we feel so gross when that expectation is only 90% met? We set the bar at 120% just to give us peace of mind, yet hide the grinch inside when the picture in our head is not the picture in reality. It took many failed expectations big and small for me to realize that Christ wants me to be humbly submitted to Him and that I’m actually revealing my pride when I set expectations for myself. Expectations are pride disguised as good intentions we often think are God honoring.
I’m encouraged once again that I’m not alone in my self talk. It’s been an issue for women since Jesus walked the earth. The first to have “first world problems” was the original Martha. Martha, Martha…I’m sure she had some lofty expectations for the Son of God and Savior coming to her house for dinner!
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10)
Christ shot straight with Martha that Mary had simply and purely chosen what really mattered. She set her pride disguised as expectations aside. She chose to relieve her mind of the expectations she had set in order and to abide with the one who would not only bring her identity, peace, and security, but would also do what Psalm 37 says He will do, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Expectations are pride disguised as good intentions we often think are God honoring.
This has nothing to do with Christ helping you have the most ________.ever. This has everything to do with the fact that by putting our expectations and ourselves at his feet, we give him our pride in the process. He will then renew our minds and literally replace or give us new desires that are in line with his plan for our lives, right down to that 1st birthday party.
Because of my traditionalist, planning, visual, and artistic nature, I will always struggle with the sickness of pride through my setting of expectations. Here are a few tactics I use to discipline that pride right out of me.
- Be wise with the logistics. Planning ahead is a good thing, but I get obsessive. I literally set a timer for planning events and even Pinterest researching to usually 30-45 minutes.
- Know thyself. Like an addict, I know my patterns and when I’m going to be most tempted. If I’m at that insane wedding, I grab a napkin and write all the things that were gifts in my own because I will start to compare them.
- Capture expectations. I mentally stop when I have a thought of comparison and affirm something that has been successful because of God’s hand. I state verses like Psalms above and stop whatever I’m doing with my hands to ask God to clearly show me HIS expectation for that event or milestone. It is usually as simple as, “Lacy, just love me and love your neighbor in that.” Talk about checking things off a to do list!
- Show yourself the money. Milestones and events cost money. I assess what portion of that expense is going to something of eternal value versus something that is fleeting.
Putting our expectations and ourselves at his feet, we give him our pride in the process.
As you enter this holiday season and your impending family photo session, that engagement announcement, high school graduation, next birthday party for your kid, wedding reception, baby shower, first home, vacation or new career path, remember to watch out for pride disguised as expectations. He is not concerned with your pin boards. He is concerned with your heart and if all of it belongs to Him. Replace that prideful self talk with an honest assessment of whether or not you are choosing to be a slave to expectations or simply abide in Christ and let Him exceed your expectations.
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