Last year was one of the hardest I can remember. While there was good to be found, it was overwhelmingly difficult to navigate the pain and discouragement that seemed to hit me where it hurt the most.
And as a cup-half- full kinda girl, I struggled to keep it full at all. 2016 challenged my joy and happiness.
I’m so glad it’s over.
Truth is, we’re going to have those hard years. We’re going to face those tough seasons. Just because we commit our lives to Jesus doesn’t mean we get a free-pass from heartache. Someone once told me, “Life sucks and then you die.” Yep. It sure feels that way sometimes.
… Messy family dynamics
… Endless financial chaos
… Scary health diagnosis
… Painful friend betrayal
… Unimaginable injustices
Maybe you’re reeling from 2016, too. I wish we could meet over coffee and lick our wounds together. There’s comfort knowing we’re not alone—that we aren’t the only ones. But I’ve learned the hard way that while processing through the pain is healthy… choosing to stay in it isn’t.
And unless we create healthy expectations, we’ll spend our one and only life feeling sorry for ourselves… sitting in the pit of despair, reliving all the bad things that have happened.
Over and over and over again.
I’m about to share a big truth right here. And if you will let it… this knowledge will bring freedom and perspective. Ready?
Jesus didn’t die so you could have a perfect life. He died so you could have a purposeful life.
That means when (not if) life hits hard, we press into Him for wisdom rather than whine to everyone else. Instead of living hopeless we learn from hardships. Rather than being surprised when life throws curve balls, we’re ready. And Instead of focusing on the bad we find the blessing. It’s creating healthy expectations.
You see, somewhere along the way we decided life was supposed to be fair. That we deserved good things. That believing in Jesus guaranteed storm-free living. But scripture doesn’t support this kind of thinking.
Hey, I get it. I’ve thought this way before. I know how easy this mindset can be. But it’s a trap, and we have to stop falling into it. And while it may be how you’ve thought up to now, let this be the year you live in truth.
1. Expect imperfection in relationships
One of the greatest gifts the cross gave us was choice. We’re not puppets under the influence of our Maker. Instead, He gave us free will. But so often, our human condition causes us to choose selfishly and it wreaks havoc in our relationships.
Sometimes we choose to hurt others out of our own pain, and other times we choose to forgive instead. Sometimes we choose to be offended by their words, other times we don’t. Regardless, set your expectations that relationships will ebb and flow with good seasons and hard seasons. And remember that no one is perfect.
2. Expect imperfection in situations
I can remember times when it felt life couldn’t get better. Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly—finances, health, career, future plans. My husband would joke and say it was due to clean living. And then something would shake the foundation, changing everything without warning.
How quickly our work or home situations can go from easy to unmanageable—loss of a job, finding a lump, plummeting stocks, an unforeseen kink in our future. If we expect smooth sailing all of the time, we’re setting ourselves up for deep discouragement when the waves hit. Again, keep in mind that perfection is never the goal.
3. Expect perfection only from God
We may expect our husbands to respond perfectly and our kids to obey perfectly. We may want our exercise to create perfect bodies and our fiscal responsibility to create perfect retirement scenario. But having expectations of perfection for anything on earth will set us up for heartache. Every time.
But take heart. Here is the only place we can look for perfection and find it every time. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]” (James 1:7 AMP).
We may not be perfect, but we serve a God who is.
Our relationships may be deeply imperfect, but God will always be constant and unchanging.
We may not be able to create perfect homes or craft the perfect responses, but God gives us the perfect thing when we need it the very most.
Maybe 2016 was a rough year, but here’s to a new start. Let’s navigate 2017 with realistic and healthy expectations, looking for perfection not in relationships or situations… but in the only One who has it.
Carey Scott is an author, speaker, and life coach, honest about her walk with the Lord… stumbles, fumbles and all. She is the author ofUntangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and offers practical advice on how to live in freedom. Her next book Uncommon, a battle cry for women to live differently than the world commands, is set to release in July. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.