Don’t worry, I’m a pastor.
That’s my new line for ensuring anyone and everyone that I’m trustworthy, and also poorer than them.
But enough about me. Let’s talk about how you’re sabotaging satisfaction in life!
- Your job isn’t fulfilling.
- Getting that degree was supposed to make all the difference.
- That relationship should’ve been the one.
- The new car smell wore off, but the payment continues on.
I can speak to this phenomenon of dissatisfaction from any number of angles, both anecdotally and personally. I’m an expert. I’ve maintained adequate levels of dissatisfaction my entire adult life.
I’m especially qualified to speak as a pastor and parent, and a little less so as an educator. But when have qualifications ever stopped anyone? Look at the presidential race! (Too soon?)
Here’s a little nugget from a pastor for pastors by a guy who’s no stranger to the blog he doesn’t know exists, pastor Eugene Peterson:
“Unrealistic expectations about what church is like will kill you…”
I imagine when Eugene typed that one out for his memoir (required reading for pastors) he did so with a curled upper lip…veiled ever so slightly by his bearded awesomeness.
Here is my shot at boiling this whole thing down to a single phrase: Expectations affect the way we evaluate our experiences.
For instance, if I expect parenting to allow the same time and energy to do everything I did prior to having children, then I would be frustrated with my situation constantly, not to mention bitter towards my children upon realizing how misguided my expectations were.
- When they interrupt Downton Abbey or New Girl for the umpteenth time or
- color in my books or
- dip their fingers in their milk or
- “help” wash the side of the car with tire cleaner that I’m pretty sure is also used to clean oil vats
What right do I have to be frustrated towards toddlers acting like toddlers? EVERY RIGHT if I expect them to act otherwise.
In a similar way, if I expect pastoring to be what I think it’s going to be based on minimal experience and an ill-informed 24 or 25-year-old mind, then my conflicting experiences will inevitably leave me bitter, cynical, critical, and looking for the greener grass.
And would you guess what happened? No really, guess………You didn’t guess. I’ll just tell you. I became bitter, cynical, critical, and looked for greener grass.
As it turned out, my unrealistic expectations were akin to Round Up. I killed whatever grass I found under my feet.
My expectations have been the problem, regardless of the job.
It makes sense, then, that changing expectations is one of the quickest and most effective means for enjoying experiences.
Where is there joylessness in your life? Where is there discontent?
Now, what adjustments–however small–can you make to your expectations in these areas? Give it a shot. Let me know how it goes.