5 Ways to Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations
—Grace & Truth Linkup

I’m sitting empty-handed at the sandwich shop with my friends. We’re waiting on our names to be called for our food orders.

But in the meantime, I hear a phone go off with a familiar ring tone. It’s the text sound I use for someone I love, but from whom I haven’t heard from in awhile.

I catch my breath. I’m finally getting the text I’ve been waiting for!

I pull the phone from my back pocket to read the text. . . .

5 Ways to Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations

This month for my One Word RELEASE, I’ve been working on releasing unrealistic expectations.

How do we let go of unrealistic expectations?

1. PAY ATTENTION

The first step is to become aware of the expectations we have. It’s easier said than done, I know. We often don’t realize that we are expecting something until we don’t get it when, where, and how we thought we would.

But we can’t intentionally release an expectation until we realize we’re holding it.

2. BE CURIOUS

Secondly, once we see our expectations, we need to question them. Would someone else in our situation consider this normal? Do these expectations feel too grandiose even to us? Have past experiences proven these outcomes are likely?

Taking a closer look at our expectations helps us discern which ones need adjusting.

3. DROP PERFECTION

If we discover we’re holding hope for the perfect solution to our circumstance, that’s a red flag. That might be the first expectation we need to release. Perfection in this world is a rare occurrence.

Be willing to accept and appreciate a Plan B solution as a viable alternative.

4. KNOW YOUR LIMITS

We often forget what we can control and what we can’t. Recognizing the limits we’re working under can help us move our expectations to a more realistic place.

Setting healthy boundaries for our expectations increases our capacity for contentment regardless of what happens next.

5. STAY OPEN

Sometimes the wildest things do happen. It is possible to be surprised above our expectations. But a more reasonable goal is to be flexible as events unfold. This mantra might be appropriate: “Whatever happens, happens. Whatever doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen.”

Be willing to deal with the actual results either way.

A Dose of Realism

Back at the sandwich shop, I casually look at my phone, even though my heart is pounding.

But the screen is still black. No message.

It wasn’t my phone that pinged. It was someone else’s.

The cashier up front now calls my name. My food is ready. But I no longer have an appetite.

My expectations got me again.

While it’s normal and healthy to get our hopes up about things, it’s not beneficial to cling too tightly to results out of our control.

I gently unclench my fingers from my phone. I put it back in my pocket.

This situation is out of my hands.

Release the need for control. Release the need for clarity. Release the need for certainty.

Release the expectation for the text I’m longing for.

Hold on to what I do know—to who I know—and ask God again for wisdom, for grace, for compassion.

God gives those gifts generously. Those are expectations I need never release.

Featured Post

Looking at expectations from another angle, Deborah reminds us that even when we have unmet expectations from prayer, we can remember that God is still with us, holding us with tender lovingkindness, light, and love.

Read all of Deborah’s post at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.

Resting in the Faith

Do you consider yourself an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist about your expectations? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for sharing, Deborah! Here’s a button for your blog.

I’m linking at these blog parties


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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Just One Roll of Toilet Paper, OK?

In the desert he fed you manna—something your ancestors had never seen. He tested you to make you humble so that everything would go well for you in the end.
Deuteronomy 8:16 (ERV)

It’s called Manna House, our local food distribution center. I thought I got it, you know, manna…basic needs…God provides…every day. We all know the story about the Hebrews in the desert being fed with manna from the sky (Exodus 16).

But it took me awhile to relate the only-one-day-at-a-time philosophy to Manna House.

I’m not sure where all these food and toiletry items come from that are given at Manna House to our city’s needy—some are leftovers from restaurants; some are mislabeled cans that can’t be sold at grocery stores; some are donations from individual companies.

I just know it’s a lot of stuff.

But there are a lot of people who come for it.

So while a variety of goods can be distributed to everybody that comes in, the quantities per person are limited.

I remember a night I was volunteering to give out toiletries. The toiletry area is the last stop before the exit. After going through the food line, people can ask for extras like shampoo and deodorant, when we have it. A sandwich baggie of baby wipes and four diapers per child. One regular bar of soap or two bars if they’re small.

And one roll of toilet paper (as long as it lasts anyway).

All are welcome to come back another day and get another roll. And many do.

But for this day, one roll is it. Enough for a day for a family. Manna.

Still, people do ask for more. Naturally. And it hurts to say no. But the more rolls given to one person, the less rolls for everybody else. The rolls to distribute are limited. 

Personally if there’s one thing I never want to run out of it, it’s toilet paper. We all went through that scare during the first year of the pandemic.

Yet…yet…there’s something about only having enough supplies to hand out for the day that keeps everybody coming back together, both those in need and those who volunteer. We’re all dependent on how God’s people carry out God’s mercy.

Now that’s not to say God wouldn’t want us to bless someone with a 12-roll pack. Or that God wants us to live life on the edge, one roll at a time.

But if one roll a day is what we have right now—with hope for another roll tomorrow—maybe it’s enough. For today.

Does it satisfy me? Does this manna feel sufficient?

  • My manna of energy?
  • My manna of time?
  • My manna of knowledge?

Is it enough to know what will happen today? Or do I want a year’s supply of foreknowledge to store up? Is one set of 24 hours enough from dawn to dawn? And is it okay by me that I run out of energy after 16 of those hours and need to go unconscious for the next 8?

(And would I feel less greedy for more if I hoarded more than my share and woke up with maggots in the pantry like the Hebrews experienced when they hoarded manna?)

There’s something about receiving only enough for the day that keeps me coming back for more. It keeps me dependent on the mercy of God.

Granted, I’ve received far more than a day’s supply of most everything possible. I eat often of the fruit from Canaan (Joshua 5:12)—I’m grateful.

But for the supplies that only trickle in one day at a time, I still want to be grateful. To be humble. To be content.

For enough.

I’ll just have to keep trusting God’s grace—however it’s delivered—one roll at a time.

One day at a time.


What do you have a scarcity mindset about? Share your thoughts in the comments.

revised from the archives

sharing at these linkups


Can White People Be Good Friends to Black People?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Do We Hear?

Where are we now in our journey with antiracism?

In the summer of 2020, momentum for antiracism exploded after the injustice of the murder of George Floyd.

Perhaps it led to some interesting conversations among you and your friends or your church.

Perhaps it even led to some productive actions for change.

Part of the increase in awareness was evidenced by an increase in book sales on racial inequity.

The latest book on antiracism I finished reading wasn’t published until March 2022, but in it, author Andre Henry recalls conversations he had with white friends after George Floyd’s death.

The conversations were disappointing. But eye-opening. The relationships changed.

Henry wrote a book about those changes.

The book is apty labled: All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope—and Hard Pills to Swallow—About Fighting for Black Lives.

All the White Friends I Couldn't Keep

I’ll be honest, this book does contains some hard pills.

But in reading it, I was reminded again that until we really listen AND believe the experiences that our Black neighbors are telling us, we’ll continue dragging our feet in making progress moving forward.

Without listening and believing and acting, can we even say we’re being a friend?

Hard Pills

Henry’s story is hard to hear. By vocally supporting social justice, he faced unexpected pushback from his white friends (including his white Christian friends). After multiple such occasions, he chose to stop trying to convince his white friends of his lived experiences and create change without them.

Is this the effect we have on our Black brothers and sisters?

In many ways and to many people, yes.

When confronted by one of his white friends to “stop focusing so much on being Black or white or whatever, just be a human being, ya know?”, Henry writes that his own lived experiences show that race actually is consequential. 

How will we ever change if we can’t even acknowledge race? 

Do I agree with every solution that Henry offers in his book? Not all. 

That’s okay. I don’t have to agree with Henry’s every conclusion to still hear and believe his experience.

But I do need to agree that change is necessary. 

White people, may we keep listening to our Black neighbors. Keep believing. And keep changing.

Maybe then we can be trusted to truly be called “friend.”

Quotes from All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep

Here are some important quotes I took from Henry’s book.

“We fight for people we care about, period. If you saw a friend in danger, love would compel you to try to save them.”

~ * ~

“Nowadays, when white people call me angry, I don’t lie like I did to Ashlee. When I choose to respond, I usually tell them, ‘You’re right. I am angry, and for good reason. Why aren’t you?’ It’s good for them to encounter Black anger because it undermines the big lie that everything is all right.”

~ * ~

“White people need to learn to share power. But we also need to empower ourselves. If we build our own tables, we will no longer have to beg for a seat at theirs.”

~ * ~

“Humans are called to participate directly in making history. The Hebrew prophets convey God’s divine frustration at the social injustices in ancient Israel. God’s frustration is rooted in the notion that humans have been deputized to rule the world and are accountable for what they do.”

~ * ~

“We don’t need [white] saviors. We need people who understand the subtle ways white supremacy and anti-Blackness control white people’s behavior and who want to be free of their influence.”

~ * ~

“White people from the southern U.S. claim they’re not racist because they’re not members of the Proud Boys. Northern whites claim they aren’t racist because they’re not Southerners. European whites claim they’re not racist because they’re not Americans. Nevertheless, the white world stands guilty of a crime of unfathomable scope.”

~ * ~

“Slaveholders quoted the New Testament—“slaves obey your masters”—at their captives. The first Klansmen to light a cross atop Stone Mountain built an altar there to “the Invisible Empire” and laid a sword, an American flag, and Holy Bible on it. So, racism is, in large part, Christianity’s mess to clean up.”

READ MORE:

Featured Post

To truly be loving to others requires more than just words. Cindy reminds us in our featured post this week that simply saying, “I love you” isn’t enough.

Our love must be put into action.

Read all of Cindy’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.

Love Is Action

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for sharing, Cindy! Here’s a button for your blog.

I’m linking at these blog parties


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Doves as Symbols of Hope to Start Again

The dove is often viewed as a symbol of hope. (See how anchors are also a symbol of hope in the Bible.)

Broken Bird Feeder

I see bird seed spilled on the ground in our front yard. The squirrel is having a feast.

I had recently added a plastic dome over the bird feeder to keep the squirrels from wiping out the food in just a few hours.

But once again, my plot was foiled.

The squirrel outsmarted me. He chewed the rope holding the bird feeder, causing it to fall to the ground, and breaking it wide open.

Doves as Hope

I want to watch the birds, not the squirrels, at the bird feeder hanging on our cherry tree.

While I’m not a serious bird-watcher (I can only identify a handful for certain), I do know a few.

One of the birds I know is the dove. We have many doves that eat from the bird feeder (when the squirrels haven’t emptied it out.)

I like watching the doves. Doves remind me to hope.

Associating doves with hope originates from the biblical story of Noah’s ark in Genesis 7-8. It is written that after Noah and his family ride out the 40-day rainstorm, waters rise for another 5 months. In the next 5 months, waters begin receding, leaving the ark to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

The story continues that Noah opens the window. He sends out a raven. But it only flies back and forth because there is nowhere for it to land.

Noah next sends out a dove, but it can’t land either.

Another week passes. Noah sends out the dove again. This time it returns back to Noah with a gift, a freshly picked olive leaf.

Noahs Ark Flood Timeline

timeline revised from bible.ca

Thrive in Hope

Noah’s hope is coming true. He knows there is life again outside the ark. God has not abandoned him.

But the story continues. Noah waits one more week and releases the dove a third time. This time the bird doesn’t return at all, a sign that it is able to live on its own.

The dove found its own bird food.

The dove was a tangible reminder to Noah to hope. When he needed evidence that new life was possible, the dove brought it.

We All Need Hope

In the New Testament, a dove lights on Jesus after he is baptized in the Jordan River by John. Here the dove represents the Spirit of God and is accompanied by God’s voice from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The apostle Paul writes that God is the God of hope. It is through the power of the Spirit that we can overflow with hope (Romans 15:13).

I need more hope. Hope for fresh starts. Hope for renewal. Hope for the dawning of a new day.

And hope for more doves to feed in my front yard.

I look online this morning for a new bird feeder. I add one to my cart. I click “buy.”

I’ll start again.

Hope really does spring eternal.

Life Goes On

* * *

Share your thoughts in the comments.

READ MORE ABOUT HOPE:

  • 4 Ways to Express Your Hope
    When you feel too cynical or things seem hopeless, that’s a great time to practice your hope. Here are 4 ways.
  • Get Your Hopes Up for Good Gifts Ahead
    We can’t imagine the gifts God has planned for us or what time they will arrive. But we can know they will be good. Get your hopes up.
  • When Hope Feels Dangerous
    Our hope for the future isn’t defined by our past. Here’s why we should continue to practice hope, even when it feels dangerous.

Practicing Hope series


I’ll Be Praying for You. But…?

I’ll Be Praying for You

I said, “I’ll be praying for you.”

I meant it. I would be praying. My friend was in a tough situation. 

So why did my response bother her? Why didn’t it make her feel better? Wasn’t that what she needed?

Well, yes and no.

She did want God’s help. And she appreciated prayers. She had already been praying herself to God every day.

She knew God heard her cries. 

But her need now was answers to those prayers.

And one of those answers?

It was supposed to be me.

How Many Prayers Are Enough?

God doesn’t work by popular demand. One prayer is enough to get God’s attention.

Instead of passively waiting for more prayers to stack up on my friend’s behalf, God was already ready to move. 

How? One way was by prompting people—people like me—to get moving.

But we were too busy just praying.

Do we use prayer as a substitute for action? Do we think if we spend 10 minutes a day, maybe every day, maybe even 30 minutes on a good day (pat on the back!) talking to God about our friends, that we’ve done well?

Maybe prayer is only step 1. Maybe God is prompting us through our desire to pray (which is a good thing) to become an answer to the prayer as a step 2 and 3 and 104.

  • What if instead of praying, “God, please help my friend,” we prayed, “God, use me to help my friend.”
  • What if instead of praying, “God, I trust you to take care of this,” we prayed, “God, you trust me to take care of this with your help.”
  • What if instead of praying, “God, comfort my friend as only you can,” we prayed, “God, help me comfort my friend in the ways I can.”

Even Jesus, after praying in the wilderness by himself, would return to his friends, moving on to heal, listen, teach, love. 

Be an Answer to Prayer

If my friend that day had wanted to be blunt with me (but she didn’t want to hurt my feelings, so she wasn’t), she might have said:

“Don’t just talk to God about me. Talk to me too.

God already knows it all. We’ve been talking. I know God is on this.

I don’t need more prayers right now. I need you to be an answer to prayer.”

I get it now.

Instead of more prayers, my friend needed more people in answer to the prayers already prayed.

  • More listening ears.
  • More compassionate hearts.
  • More shoulders to cry on.

When God’s answer to the prayer is me, I don’t want to be too busy praying to respond.

I knew I still couldn’t change my friend’s situation and take away her pain.

  • But I could sit beside her in it. 
    “I’ll be praying for you, but I’ll also stay here with you.”
  • I could assure her she’d be seen and heard. 
    “I’ll be praying for you, but I’ll also be listening to you.”
  • I could say I’ll check on you again tomorrow.
    “I’ll be praying for you, but I’ll also talk to you again soon.”

Granted, we can’t take action like this for everybody we pray for. Sometimes offering a prayer is all we’re equipped to do. And that’s fine. Pray continually. Keep the line open for an ongoing conversation with God. 

But for the other times? In situations where we actually can help in a tangible way?

Instead of asking God to handle it all, let’s allow God to handle us as we reach out our hands.

God, use my prayer to change me so I can be an answer to prayer.


Share your thoughts in the comments.

sharing at these linkups


Learn to Set Better Expectations
—Grace & Truth Linkup

I was having a grouchy morning at home. Things weren’t going my way. I was even having a bad hair day. I decided to get it cut.

I walked into the hair salon. The hair stylist asked me, “How are you today?”

I decided to be bluntly honest, “I’m not very good today.”

She replied, “Good!”

Huh???

Sometimes we hear only what we expect to hear.

I was sure the stylist expected my response to be, “I’m good!” And even though I didn’t say that, it’s probably what she heard, thus prompting the standard reply we all give, “Good.”

Our expectations influence us more than we realize.

And in more areas than we realize.

I learned more about the value of expectations in David Robson’s new book, The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Change Your World.

The Expectation Effect

In the book, Robson shows from research that what we expect to happen can influence what actually does happen in many ways.

Thus, it’s important to learn how to set better expectations.

Examples include medicine. Did you know that all things being equal, we respond better to larger tablets than smaller tablets, and to capsules the best? It has nothing to do with the ingredients in the pills. It has to do with our expectations. (We know it as the placebo effect.)

Likewise, there is a nocebo effect. When we read that horrible long list of side effects from a drug, we’re more apt to have a side effect than if we don’t read it.

Even a nurse saying, “This may hurt” before giving you an injection makes your pain more likely.

How can we counter this normal, human expectation effect?

For pain, Robson suggests this:

“You may try to remember a few reassuring phrases, such as ‘my pain is in my brain,’ and ‘the sensations are real, but temporary’ that can counteract more general anxieties and that emphasize the power of the brain’s capacity to bring its own relief.

More than half of people with chronic pain report at least a 30 percent reduction in their symptoms when using this technique, with many patients experiencing as much as 70 percent improvement.”

Other areas of life that are affected by our expectations include how we respond to stress. If we reframe a racing heartbeat before a public speech as a sign of energy for an important event, we’re more likely to do better than if we view the anxiety as debilitating and disadvantageous.

Robson is quick to point out, though, that this isn’t a matter of just “positive thinking.” He says he’s the last person to make that claim.

But what Robson does say is that specific beliefs (rather than general optimism) is what makes the difference.

Another example is food. Robson says,

“The way you describe your food will strongly influence the ways that you and your guests appreciate it. So be sure to season your dishes with some delicious words as you serve—that verbal garnish may be as important as the actual, physical ingredients.”

Aging is another excellent chapter. How we think about getting older can influence our health and mental attitude. Adjust your expectations like this:

“Rather than idealizing youthfulness, focus on all the things that you can gain from living a longer life—including experience, knowledge, and improved emotional regulation and decision-making. Remember that many of the things that we typically associate with aging—such as physical weakness—are within your control and can be improved with a healthier lifestyle. Avoid attributing sickness to your age, since this will reinforce the idea of an inevitable decline.”

Our brains are more malleable than we think. Reframing our mind as a work in progress can encourage us to change unhelpful thinking patterns to more accurate patterns when possible.

While setting better expectations cannot influence everything, it can influence some things. So why not?

My thanks to NetGalley NetGalley and Henry
Holt & Company for the review copy of this book.

Featured Post

Our expectations greatly affect our relationships, too. To treat each other in the ways that both honor God and demonstrate love, it’s helpful to be realistic in what we expect from our partners (and they from us). 

Our featured post this week is from Theresa about this very thing. She reminds wives that knowing our husbands can help us better love our husbands.

Visit Theresa’s blog to see 9 Ways to Know Your Husband (you can apply these principles in any important relationship). Then add your own blog links below. 

How Knowing Your Husband Can Impact Him for Good

Have you been helped or hurt by your expectations?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m linking at these blog parties


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter