Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14
For me, shopping is a mission. I want to be in and out in 10 minutes or less. For my wife and two girls, shopping is a day-long quest that involves numerous stores and at least one Starbucks break. So, on those unfortunate occasions when I tag along (or get dragged) to go shopping with them, I have one goal in mind: finding a comfy chair.
Better known as the "husband seat" this is where many men spend countless hours telling their significant other "that outfit looks great!" instead of relaxing at home watching the game. Sometimes while I wait, I check out sports news on my phone, but more often than not I find myself people watching.
In my mind, I begin to craft these people's backstories utilizing their speech, body language, clothing, and expressions. I typecast them. I create an outlandish tale about their interests, motives, quirks, and behaviors. I concoct theories about people I've never met. I attempt to fill in the gaps.
My random sociological exercise serves as some harmless fun to pass the time. But, we get ourselves in trouble when we place our expectations on those we care about. Our default is to write a story about them based on our expectations. When we expect others to do things our way or to be just like us, they will let us down.
Not only do our expectations take a toll on our relationships, but they also limit our capacity to love others. We put an enormous amount of pressure on our spouses, our kids, our friends, our co-workers, and our neighbors. If they don’t meet our high standards, they have failed us.
And as a result, the story we write about them continues as we fill in the gaps for the reasons why they let us down. We assume their motives, desires, and agenda while refusing to dig deeper to learn what is going on in their heart and how God is working in their lives. What if instead of finishing their story, we let it unfold? What if we started seeing others in a new way?
What if we saw them as God sees them, through the lens of grace? It would change everything about our relationships. As believers in Christ, the way we connect with others should cause the world to take notice. We must make room for each other’s faults and forgive each other just as God has forgiven us. By pursuing our connections in a way that honors Him, God can move through us.
- What relationship has suffered the most due to you placing your expectations on the other individual? What story are you writing about them?
- How can you begin to let go of your expectations and truly love them?
God, give me the eyes to see others as You see them - in need of grace, love, hope, and forgiveness. May I pursue understanding and unity. Help me to let go of my expectations of others and trust You with that connection. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.