Why are my expectations so high? When I go out to a nice restaurant, I expect everything to be “perfect”: the meal cooked just right, the presentation of the food beautiful, the service without defect. If the food is cold, if the plate doesn’t look great, if the service isn’t stellar, I can be critical. I may not send the food back, or voice my discontent to the manager, but I’m making mental notes on whether I’ll return. Conversations with those I’ve shared the experience with often focus on deficiencies, or on how close to “perfect” my, our, experience was. I have the same expectation when I stay overnight in a hotel, when I select vegetables at the store, when I shop at the hardware store. I’m looking for “perfection.” Where did I, and I know I share this with many others, get this expectation?
Sadly, sometimes this leaks into my relationships: my relationship with others, with myself. I acknowledge intellectually that no one (God is the exception) is “perfect”, that I’m not perfect, but there is something in me that wants perfection. I want to be a perfect father, a perfect friend. And, when my friends aren’t perfect, even in small ways, my unreal expectations wrestle with what I know of reality.
I’m hard on myself. I want to be perfect, or close to it. Not physically, my defects are reflected to me daily. But morally, spiritually, character-wise, work-wise, the expectation persists. If I come up short in my relationship with God, I feel I’ve failed. This is foolish but my struggle remains. Why do I expect I will live out my faith in Jesus perfectly? What room does that expectation leave for a healthy understanding of human sin and weakness, and God’s undeserved love and grace. There is a destructive temptation to expect an all-in, all the time, unwavering, sold-out, devotion to Jesus.