Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Expectations and Desire

Life rarely presents what we expected. I am reminded of this daily in the lives of my two young sons. As they grow and learn each day unfolds uniquely. I try to develop routines with them, but no two days are ever the same. This change, or at least their reactions to change, means I have to be ready for anything.

I often fail. Usually, my attitude just doesn't keep up with what those two throw at me. Sometimes they are having a rough day and I have a bad attitude. The next day when they're ready to move on and have a good day, my bad attitude sticks around. I'm good at controlling it around them. However, the bad attitude seeps out when I'm around my wife or other adults.(I'm sorry if your one of those people I've treated unfairly).

The problem with all of this happens to be my expectations. Is it that my expectations are unrealistic? Possibly. Or maybe they are too imposing on other people (such as the boys)? That might be true too. Maybe I just have too many? Maybe.

The one thing all my expectations usually have in common is that they are fueled by desire. Desire is not necessarily a bad thing. However, desire must be directed by a heart properly formed or it will be untamed, wild, and erratic. It will end up being sinful and drag us in all sorts of ways. This is what James talks about when he tells us desire gives birth to sin (James 1:14-15).

What does proper desire look like in relation to my expectations? Let's look at it with my sons and my attitude. First, I should be praying for them and their development. Second, I should be praying with them. Third, I should be reading God's word on what it means to be a good parent - e.g. in various Proverbs and Ephesians 6:4. Fourth, I should develop a desire to be a godly parent. Another word for develop would be mature or encourage. Having what we would call a wish would not normally be a desire in this sense. A desire is something which consistently motivates us.

When I consistently submit this area to the Lord's will and discipline, the Holy Spirit can alter my desires. Competing desires such as selfish pleasure or perfectionism may increasingly diminish as the Holy Spirit directs more of my life. This is how my expectations can and should change.