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There’s an epidemic. There’s something that’s ruining our lives. It leaves us disappointed and upset. These things can ruin relationships, make us insecure and even push us into depression! And we all have them.

You may not have ever thought about this, but expectations can cause a lot of harm to our everyday lives. Expectations. Bet you never thought of it as a dangerous word. But expectations can really mess things up.

Lately, I’ve been noticing something. Whenever I feel upset or disappointed with someone, it’s usually not because they did something wrong. It’s because they didn’t meet my expectations. MY expectations. Because I had a certain expectation going into it, when that wasn’t met I became upset with the person.

For instance, if we expect someone to text us back. If we expect someone to give us a certain gift for our birthday. If we expect someone to make time to hang out with us. If we expect someone to keep in contact while we’re/they’re away. The list goes on and on… When they don’t do these things, they’re not the ones upsetting us. We are. We’re the ones with the expectations.

Recently, I’ve been wishing there is some way to get rid of my expectations. If my expectations are really low or they don’t exist, then I could never be disappointed. Right? At least that’s how I’ve been seeing it lately.

So anyone have any tips on how to release my expectations?

Lately, I feel like I have been overcome by fear more often than not. At this point in my life where I’m entering reality and adulthood, there are so many things that seem scary. So I thought I would write this blog to remind myself of all the courageous things I’ve done in my life. There have been many things in my life that seemed scary, where I could have let the fear keep me from doing them.  But instead I had courage. And most of these things made me feel more alive than ever before.

1. When I was 15, I left on a plane all by myself and headed to Dallas, Texas. I didn’t know anyone there, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and set out to do mission work. I trained in Dallas and then left for New Orleans, La. I spent two weeks there doing street ministry and meeting new people.

The St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans- this trip changed me a lot.

2. In high school, I auditioned for the school play. This might not seem like a big deal, but I was always pretty shy and quiet in school. But I tried it, and I loved it. I became very active in theater. It really broke me out of my shell and gave me more confidence.

3. Being fairly scared of heights, I can’t believe I actually took a high ropes course. I was trained as a high ropes course facilitator. The course’s foot wire was 25 feet off the ground. There were many different paths to take through the course and I had to learn all of them. The hardest for me was a log you had to walk across. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you look down and the ground is about 30 feet below you and there is nothing for you to hold onto, your heart starts to race a bit! There was also a path called the islands that I eventually got up the courage to RUN across. I was very proud of myself.

This is what the log looked like.

This is what the islands looked like. The ones I ran across!

4. Also during camp, we had to learn how to facilitate the climbing tower, which means we had to be able to climb it ourselves. I was horrible at it at first. I couldn’t get half way up. I was scared and tired. But I overcame the fear and exhaustion and eventually made it to the top!

5. Through my camp adventures, I learned I love to zip-line. I remember the very first time I ever did it when I was in high school. It took me about 10 minutes to actually slide off the platform and go. Now I love zip-lining! I have zip-lined at camp, in West Virginia over a gorge and in a Costa Rican jungle. In Costa Rica, I even went upside down.

From my zip-lining adventure in Costa Rica

6. I’ve always been fairly scared of going underwater. So white water rafting was never on my bucket list. But during my last year as a camp counselor, I was asked to be the adventure camp coordinator and lead a group of jr. high students to West Virginia for white water rafting. I stepped up to the plate, having no idea what I was doing. I was extremely nervous about white water rafting once we got there. But I had to pretend to be brave for the kids. It ended up being awesome, and I loved it! What a rush! We did some Class 4 rapids and no one even fell out of the raft.

7. One of the scariest things in life is a little four-letter word: love. I think loving someone with all your heart is a huge risk. You are making yourself vulnerable when you open up and give them your heart. You are giving them the chance to reject you, to break your heart, to hurt you and cause you pain. Yes, I am courageous because I have given someone my heart. I’m in love. As scary as it can be, it’s also one of the best adventures in life.

8. So I used to not ride roller coasters. Yeah, I was scared, but more because I would get sick. Who wants to feel queasy and have a headache on a fun day in an amusement park? Not this girl. But as I got older, I kept trying, hoping my queasy stomach would man-up and let me have some fun. A couple years ago, I finally rode The Voyage at Holiday World. I found out I wasn’t getting sick on the smaller coasters, so I tried it. I was so scared! But I really liked it, and I think I rode it about 6 times that day!

Wow. I can't believe I rode this.

So you might read this and think woop-dee-do. But this isn’t about you. It’s about me, and these things took courage for me. But I did every single one of them and each of them shaped who I am. So Tiffany, stop being so scared of everything! Look how courageous and adventurous you are! Remember how you felt after you accomplished these things? Remember how alive you felt? I know things change seems scary. I know the future looks uncertain. But God has been with you through many changes. He has a future for you. He tells you to stop fearing. He’s got your back girl!

Still don’t believe me? Still scared? Still believing the lies the devil is feeding you? Then read below:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me. Psalm 23:4

The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day. Psalm 91:5

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

I’ve been learning a lot lately. And sometimes learning is hard to do.

You see, I’ve realized that I’ve been relying on my circumstances and the people around me to make me happy. My happiness was based on who I was with or where I was at in life. My identity was found in my job, location, relationship, friendships, etc. And if those things weren’t as I expected or pictured, if they weren’t all they should be, then something was wrong with my identity, and I couldn’t be happy.

At church one week, the sermon came from Colossians, Chapter 3. The pastor talked about our identities. I realized through the sermon that my identity was being formed through all the wrong things. My situations don’t make me who I am. My identity is found in Christ alone.

You can also think of it as your foundation. I guess my foundation, I’m ashamed to say, was my circumstances. If those circumstances got rocked, even just a little, my foundation wasn’t stable causing my life to feel as if it were crumbling all around me. My foundation should be Jesus Christ. With Him as my foundation, no matter what my circumstances, my life can’t come crumbling down around me — not with such a firm, strong and reliable foundation.

Another revelation I’ve found recently is that even if your foundation is Jesus Christ, you have to have the right contractor. You see, I’ve been trying to build my life all by myself. I was trying to be the contractor. But at church that Sunday, the pastor said our identity should be in Christ AND the authority should be with God. See what I’m saying? Only God can be the contractor. We can’t build a life on our own — not the good, fulfilling kind anyway.

So as hard as it is for me to give up my contracting duties, I have to hand the job over to God — only He can build me a life that is greater than I could ever dream up. But before I can even do that, I have to build my foundation. A solid, firm foundation in Christ Jesus.

Once my identity is in Christ and the authority is in God, my circumstances can’t make my life crumble. Instead, I will have a beautiful, strong and joyful life.

As scared as I am to let go of my contracting duties, I believe it is time to set the blueprints down. I am handing them over to the greatest and most reliable contractor.

Now I’m a control freak, maybe you are too. So this handing over the blueprints stuff might sound crazy. What’s my job, right? Well, don’t worry. There is a job for you and me as our lives are built. If God has the blueprints, you get the hammer!

This is how I’ve been thinking of it lately. I need to stop planning my life so much because well, I can’t plan it and expect everything to actually happen according to that plan. So instead I’m handing that job over to God. Since I don’t have to worry about the blueprints, I get to work on the actual construction. I get to build the walls and the roof and even decorate the inside! By this I mean, if I don’t like the circumstances I’m in I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to change them! I’m going to pick up the hammer and do something with the wall that I don’t like. Of course there are some things we can’t change, that’s when we trust the contractor.

So it’s time for me to finally start building my life. I’m handing the blueprints to God. I’m building the foundation on Jesus Christ, my Savior. And I’m picking up the hammer — to tear down the things I don’t like and build things I do.

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