So you had it all planned out. You would fall in love, and the rest would be history. Only things haven’t turned out quite like you thought they would.
Now you’re faced with the decision of whether you keep going on with the charade or admit that it’s over.
You’ve weighed your situation, contemplated the outcome, and finally decided that breaking up is your best option. The only problem is you’re not breaking up with a significant other, but rather, you’re breaking up with your expectations.
This is perhaps one of the hardest break-ups you’ll ever face. Trust me. I know from experience.
This year I turn the big 35, and I can honestly say things have not turned out quite how I imagined they would. I’m still single and still searching. And to the say the least, I’ve ended up miles away from where I planned to be.
The truth of the matter is that I had this notion of how my life would turn out years and years ago. I thought I would get married to a girl I met in college. Then I would settle into a job crunching numbers. And to top it all off, I would have the expected 2.5 children and .5 family pet. That, I was certain, would make my life complete.
It was a fairly standard, cookie-cutter, American Dream ideal, but it was nothing like the adventure God had planned for me.
You see, I grew up in a small town in the great, though sometimes quiet, state of Alabama. And you could say my childhood was ordinary. I was the middle child growing up in a home with parents who always fought, until they finally divorced during my freshman year of high school.
In high school, I had a close group of guy friends. We were inseparable, and we had big ideas about the future. Like any group, we had an interesting mash-up of characters. One of the boys was the quintessential ladies’ man, while two others were the “life of the party” type of guys. We also had the competitive guy and the hobbyist, who always had the best of everything.
Then there was me, the hopeless romantic.
Of all those interesting cats, I never would have imagined that I would be one of the last to get married. If you had told me that, I would have laughed in your face. I mean, I was the romantic. Surely I would not still be single at 35.
It almost makes me laugh now. The arrogance I had was astounding. I thought I knew best, and unfortunately, that led to unanswered questions and needless heartbreak. Yet, in the aftermath, I found one undeniable truth: As much as I would like to believe otherwise, I was not in control. And the time had come for breaking up with my expectations.
At first, the thought of it stung, like a slap against sunburned skin. I felt abandoned by God. The plan I had for my life was crumbling around me, and the harder I fought to hold my expectations together, the faster they seemed to crack and shatter. So I had to make a clean break, which is easier said than done.
Breaking up with your expectations is as much about trusting God with your future as it is about letting go of how that future plays out.
But since then, God has let me in on a little secret. No matter what I think is best, it pales in comparison to His desire for my life.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
You see, there is nothing that you lose and/or are deprived of in life that God has not already taken into account. And with this approaching birthday, I can’t help but look back over my life. And what I find is up to me. Sure, I can see all that I perceive to be missing out on. That would be easy. Or, I can take into account all the unique blessings and opportunities that God has poured out over my life.
I am choosing to do the latter, and let me tell you, from where I am sitting, my future is looking pretty bright. Because when I consider my history with God, I find that I am always in His hand, ever moving forward to greater things. And that gives me such amazing peace.
With God behind the steering wheel, this road has taken me hundreds of miles from my home. I’ve lived in a few different states, been blessed with a career that is not only fulfilling but impactful. And I’ve made friends who are from some of the most interesting places around the world. But perhaps what’s even more important is the igniting of my passion to write and being allotted the time to devote myself solely to that. It has been one of the greatest joys in my entire life.
Now don’t get me wrong; I still desire to be married and have children. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I’ve learned that all fruit must come in its right season. Simply put, no fruit is as sweet as when it’s ripe for plucking. Until that time comes, I will focus on the adventure and wait excitedly to see what God has planned next.
What about you? As you look back over your life, what do you see? You have to ask yourself, “Am I going to let my unmet expectations rob me of peace in the present and the adventure God has laid out before me?” And consider this: If you’re in God’s hands, are you really missing out on anything, or are you simply waiting for it all to come to pass in its due season?
So it’s time to admit the cold hard truth that it’s just not working out between you and your expectations. Breaking up with them is the right thing to do. It’s tough. I get it. It’s hard to imagine your life differently without them in it. But you will survive. S0 stop wasting valuable time. Let them down gently, give them a pat on the shoulder and tell them, “It’s not you. It’s me.”
Sure they may cry and try to negotiate any possible way to stay together, but let’s be honest: You’ve moved on. It’s time they should too.