Ever noticed that we can be our own worst enemies? Our expectations are rarely, if ever, right. My expectations are usually too high and then I end up disappointed because real life didn't live up to the fairy tale in my head. Or B--my expectations are too low and I doubt the sincerity of the goodness of real life. Both of those things are...bad. My life is good. I have Jesus, so I have everything that I need. And He loves me so much that He gives me so many extra things that I don't need. In human, earthly terms, I have food, clothing, shelter, a car that runs, and people that love me. So I'm set. I don't need anything else. So I have no need to expect more. I'm not entitled to anything. I receive grace from the Lord. That's the only reason I get anything. So having expectations--whether high or low--messes me up. It messes up my perspective which messes up my gratitude. And that sucks.
In the running world, having expectations can mess up your training and your performance on race day. When I ran my first half marathon last year, I had 3 goals: 1. Don't fall down. 2. Don't finish last. 3. Run the whole time. Those may seem really dumb to you, but I wanted to have tangible, attainable goals so I would ENJOY the race and not be anxious the whole time. I felt great that day. I wasn't nervous. I wasn't super sore afterwards. I felt like my training had reached a peak on that day, and it was awesome to cross the finish line and know that I had accomplished something that a lot of people will never try. I love the feeling of finishing a race. If I had gone into that day with goals like coming in first or in the top 10 or even beating my mile time, I would have failed. But since I set goals that fit for my first half marathon, I was able to feel great about what I did that day. In my next half, one of my goals will be to beat the time from my first one. That's the main reason I didn't set a time goal for the first half. I had a number in my head that I thought would be okay, but I also wasn't so committed to that number that I would be devastated when I didn't make it. And I didn't. And I still felt great. I wanted a starting point. I want a reference point so I can say "when I wasn't trying to be fast, this was my time", and now I'll have something to work towards beating. Now, because of that, I have a pre-set goal for my next half marathon. Having goals is important, but it's also important to know ourselves and to know our bodies. To know when to push and when to rest. When to try harder and when to wait. It's hard to get it right all the time, but God knows us better than we know ourselves and He gives wisdom generously to all who ask. (James 1:5)