copyright 2006, Lani Wiens
a fresh flowers original
I'm wondering how many of you suffer, like me, from R.U.E. (Ridiculously Unrealistic Expectations). Here are the symptoms so you can check yourself:
1. It starts with a dreamy expression and an ideal coming from your own imagination or some other source (i.e. a book, magazine article, picture or someone else's story of success)
2. There is a burst of energy as you attempt to implement your plan that formulated out of the ideal.
3. You begin to feel frustrated as you realize that things are not going as you planned.
4. You are discouraged when it becomes clear that this ideal is harder to attain than you thought and the book, article, picture or person didn't give you the whole story of their journey to success. This thing is hard work and looks like it will take a long time to complete.
5. You either throw your hands up in defeat or lay your head down and cry, believing that it is indeed a hopeless venture and you should put yourself out of your misery and give up.
This cycle can be repeated endlessly with either a new ideal or a renewed sense of 'I will do or die trying!'
Check yourself. Been there? Done that? I am a victim of R.U. E. far more often than I care to admit. I've seen it happen in my husband and my children. As I'm writing this my eldest son is attempting to create a backpack for his Bionicles. His first attempt fell far short of his expectation and he burst into tears. Earlier this evening my little girl was trying to wrap a birthday gift and she just couldn't quite get it right, again, the tears. If you recall a few weeks ago my friend's little girl and her first crochet project that came with the words, "This was not what I imagined." Things rarely go as I imagine.
My first reaction to my son was to ask him if he'd like some help. My compassion for him was great as he struggled to make this project. I could do one of two things. First, I could rescue him and do the project myself, knowing that it will most likely turn out the way he wants it to. Second, I could give him a few pointers and suggestions to help him meet with success and help him build some character and learn a bit more about sewing and planning a project. The second option will also allow him the dignity of completing the project on his own and knowing that sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing you did something well. I decided to take the second course, though the first one would be much faster. The second one means I'm going to let him stay up later, but I'll have a happy boy in the end who feels good about what he did.
I'm guessing that the second option is what God does with us. He lets us get our high and lofty ideals out, lets us try in our own strength to accomplish them, lets us fall on our face so we realize we're not quite as wonderful as we first thought and then gently gives us what we need to do the job. He teaches us the lessons in character required to reach that ideal. He gives us endurance and strength to go the distance to reach that ideal. Because in the end, the ideal is His and He actually wants us to get there.
In the meantime He reminds us that our expectations are a little out there - too much, too fast. This week he reminded me that my boys are boys and I am not. I need to remember that for them hanging ropes out of windows and raising and lowering things is fun and not actually dangerous (with the exception of the metal pipe that almost came through the kitchen window). I was also reminded that themany character issues that need to be dealt with (pride, jealousy, quarrelling, anger, foolishness) won't be dealt with in one week of my trying to get it through their heads. I believe His words to me were, "They didn't get like this overnight and they aren't going to change in one week, lower your expectation, they are kids, they are foolish and they will learn....over time."
Then there are the expectations I place on myself. I am extremely pregnant. I don't move very quickly. I don't bend well. I have a few aches and places of uncomfortableness. It is physically impossible for me to do things as quickly as I normally would. I was so discouraged this week when I set my timer to give myself 15 minutes to tidy up my kitchen, normally that is plenty of time to do what I need to do in there. That day I barely got my dishes washed, forget dried or put away and I didn't even glance at the floor. I get discouraged that I don't have the energy to play the 'come get me' games with my two year old. I get discouraged that I can't carry him up the stairs and can only pick him up for a few minutes before I simply must put him down. The Lord reminded me that in a few short weeks that will change. It won't hurt anymore to have them snuggle up on my lap, but there will be another one to share it with.
Our family has been meditating in Proverbs a lot lately. The Lord has been highlighting verses on diligence, perseverance, wisdom and much more to us. As you check where you are in the R.U.E. cycle I hope that some of these will encourage you as they have encouraged me and get you out of there permanently.
Proverbs 13:4 - The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisified.
Proverbs 14:23 - All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
1 Samuel 30:6b - But David found strength in the Lord His God. (this was after being rejected and then finding his wife and children kidnapped)
Psalm 22:5b - In you they trusted and were not disappointed
Proverbs 23:4 - Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. (this one is difficult for two German-Mennonite work-aholics, we're not trying to get rich, just get out of debt, but that wearing yourself out part is sure true)
Proverbs 23:18 - There is surely a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off.
Isaiah 30:15 - In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength (the verse goes on to say, 'but you would have none of it' - I don't want that part to be true of me)
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.