{In Which} We All Let Go Of Meeting Others' Expectations

{In Which} We All Let Go Of Meeting Others’ Expectations

June 13, 2016 | Posted in: chronic illness; support

About ten or twelve years ago I found myself haunted by a single moment, an act, a decision I’d made hanging out there on the horizon. The memory would creep up on me in the night and dance around in my mind, turning my stomach, rending my heart into pieces over and over again until they fell out my eyes in a pile of liquid confetti.

It wasn’t that I’d never uttered those powerful words, “I’m sorry.” No, no, I’d said them many times. It was a choice I’d regretted from the moment I knew I would see it through and yet inexplicably, saw it through anyway. There were friends who knew the gist of it. But I’d never soiled anyone’s ears with the sordid details. And that, I decided was the problem. As long as no one knew the fullness of my error, it held too much power. Surely if even a single soul knew the depths of my depravity they would never love me, never even look upon me again.

So on a Thursday afternoon, while I prepared for the bible study that would meet in our home that evening, I made the decision to share the darkest details of the ugliest decision I’d ever made, years before, with my best friend. Because I realized, this is what I needed, this is how the shame-monster would be robbed of his power. I would tell my friend how utterly far I had fallen that forsaken day, and maybe she would choose to love me anyway.

My darling best friend was barely through the door before I began, before the tears began. First, I warned her about the sordid nature of the conversation we would soon be having. I explained how the shame monster had been sneaking up on me all of these years later. I told her that if she could, I needed her to still love me after what I was about to say. And then I poured out the horrible detailed words I’d never uttered to a human being. And my precious friend cried. And then she hugged me and she said, “I still love you and God still has amazing plans for your life.” And just like that, the shame monster was banished for good.

Love has a way of banishing the shame of yesterday. Click To Tweet

There are few things I hate in life like not meeting expectations. Mine, Yours.

Most of my life I had a funny combination of both high and low expectations for myself. I never believed I would accomplish anything truly worthwhile but I also believed I should be the best at whatever I did, anything less was a failure. Perhaps you can relate.

Can I tell you how fun expectations are with chronic illness? Yours, Mine? I’ll tell you a secret­­­–––I can’t meet either. My expectations for myself are a moving target and yet, they still aren’t met. My expectations for my waistline aren’t met. My expectations of my parenting, the level of friendship I can offer, the hours I can stay awake in a day––– none of them are met.

And then there are other people’s expectations of me. Maybe my oldest expects me to chauffeur him and my youngest expects me to engage her in an eight-hour marathon of pony playing and yet, my body vetoes both.

I’ve been trying to fly to Arizona and visit my mom and siblings for almost five years, FIVE YEARS. I finally flew out with my youngest last October. We were there for my mom’s birthday, for my niece’s dedication, all of us sisters were together again for the first time since my wedding. But do you know how many times I had to cancel my flight before last October? I don’t even want to say the number out loud.

Letting Go of Others' Expectations

There are a lot of amazing people in my life. I want to bless them the way they bless me. I want our love to be equitable. But love is not equitable. Love is you bringing all you have and me bringing all I have and us stockpiling it together.

Do you need someone to be in your corner? I’m your girl. Is faith your jam? I have plenty to share. Do you need to hear some funny jokes? I’m pretty funny.

But if you need me to drive cross country, or sit on the phone for hours, or come to your house everyday­­––– I’m sorry, I don’t have that to give.

And maybe like me, your body has been vetoing a lot of really special people’s requests lately. Maybe you feel like no one could ever love you without these expectations being met. I’m going to tell you another secret­­––– this is the most powerful, redemptive kind of love. The love that isn’t even slowed down by unmet expectations, the kind that looks disappointment in the eye and says, “I love you anyway.”

If today you’re struggling with meeting the expectations of the ones you love, here’s my advice: be honest. Banish the shame monster for good. You didn’t choose this. You didn’t do anything wrong. Tell your precious loved one your body has vetoed the meeting of these expectations and let them wrap their arms around you and say, “I still love you and God still has amazing plans for your life.”

Love has a way of banishing the pain of yesterday. Click To Tweet





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  1. Tawni
    June 13, 2016

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    Powerful stuff. Thank you for sharing this. I really needed this post today. xo

    • Stacey Philpot
      June 17, 2016

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      I’m so glad it was meaningful to you Tawni!

  2. wmunsell@gmail.com
    June 13, 2016

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    Oh, boy, can I relate to this post! I’ve had various medical issues that have affected my energy levels for some years now. But now I’m receiving chemo and I’m struggling with yet again, a new normal. Thank-you for the affirming message that my loved ones are saying too… ““I still love you and God still has amazing plans for your life.” With God’s help, I’m going to receive that word of encouragement as truth!

    • Stacey Philpot
      June 17, 2016

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      Praying for you Wendi!

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