“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”
― Donald Miller
As I walked with my friend, the heaviness in her spirit was written on her lovely face, dampening her normal radiance. She was feeling guilty and frustrated. One of her dearest friends had called to lambaste her, letting her know in no uncertain terms that she had failed miserably as a friend. Apparently there was some sort of friend code that had been broken, a specific sort of support that had been withheld. My friend had had no idea she was so neglectful. She hadn’t even known the friendship code existed.
Another dear friend had a similar experience, but in her case she was guilty of breaking the rules of camaraderie, the part of the friend code that determines how one is expected to relate to and share information with one’s companions.
In both cases, these women’s spirits were crushed. They both loved their friends and, not being telepathic, they had had no inkling that anything was amiss in their relationships until the slighted parties blew, emotionally vomiting their disappointments.
These two women had each tried hard to be good friends while juggling the demands of their own families and duties and daily kerfuffles. In both cases, unknown expectations resulted in hurt feelings on both sides and the relationships sustained lasting damage.
I suspect that most of you reading this can relate. I know I can. I too have been guilty of violating unknown friend rules only to get blasted with the distress my faux pas caused. And, if I’m honest, I myself have harbored the bitterness, anger, and disillusionment of failed expectations toward my nearest and dearest. (Though I tend to distance myself rather than blast them with my angst, which is its own form of crappiness.)
I vote we just ditch the stupid friend code with its unrealistic expectations and just enjoy our people. People are never going to act and react exactly as we suppose they should, so let’s embrace that and learn to appreciate our differences, yes? Then we really can like them for who they are, rather than for who we want them to be.
Can I get an amen?
Now let’s take this a step further, shall we? How about the husband’s code? I wasn’t planning to add them to the mix of this discussion, but with every store I enter reminding me (loudly) that Valentine’s Day is only a week away, I figure it’s fitting. Besides, they’re our truest besties, aren’t they? They see us at our worst of the worst of the worst and love us anyway.
Yet I’d wager that more often than not, we heap a whole lotta expectations on our menfolk…and are very often disappointed, disillusioned, and all-around peevish when they don’t live up to our lofty ideals.
“He was swimming in a sea of other people’s expectations. Men had drowned in seas like that.”
― Robert Jordan, New Spring
Are we drowning our men in expectations they never dreamed they’d be required to meet?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about realistic assumptions that we are all entitled to hold on to. I assume my husband will treat me with respect and affection. I presume my friends will have my back, that they will care for and support me. These are the expectations of normal human relationships.
These become burdensome, however, when we internally dictate how our men should show us affection, or how our friends should behave in specific situations (like we would behave, most likely). In the end, aren’t these sorts of expectations all about what I want, what I need, what I think is right and proper behavior?
Hmmm. I’m beginning to think that expectations, when allowed to grow beyond what’s reasonable or healthy, are pretty darned self-centered!
As I walked with my dispirited friend that day, we agreed to not expect anything, but to simply enjoy each other whenever we’re fortunate enough to get some time together. It’s comfortable and easy, like slipping on a pair of comfy socks, and I enjoy our friendship immensely. Yup, that ol’ friend code can go right in the trash!
And even as I ponder this now at my keyboard, I realize I have yet to completely toss out the husband code. Though my man and I have long become comfortable with who we are and where our marital strengths and weakness lie, I suspect I still have a few areas of self-centered expectations that need to be thrown out and replaced with more grace.
Grace…yes, that’s what I desire, for ALL of my relationships. Grace expectations rather than great and heavy ones. That is what will enable me to know my peeps, the good, the bad, the warts and all, and enjoy them anyway!
Grace and peace,