When You Cannot Meet Everyone’s Expectations of You

“When she saw her hope unfulfilled, her expectation gone, she took another of her cubs and made him a strong lion.” (Ezekiel 19:5)

In the expectations game everyone loses when it comes to living with an illness. We can become discouraged and depressed when we find our hopes dashed, when we have a few “good days” and expect them to last, only to be knocked flat again by affliction a short time later.

Expectations can create all sorts of problems between spouses and friends and family. We say we will do something, or make plans ahead of time to go to some event, only to have our hopes dashed and the injury multiplied by disappointing those close to us. And the situation is not improved by those who have little understanding or willingness to accept such disappointment.

We cannot control the reactions of others. If grown people act like immature children because the stars do not always align perfectly for them, there is little we can do about it. If people have short memories, forgetting the good days God has blessed them with, and are only willing to focus on disappointments, we can’t make them broaden their vision to see the entire picture, one with blessings and disappointments–it’s called life.

The rain often follows sunny days, the seasons of life and the seasons of our illness change. It is wonderful to see the sun shining after so many rainy days, and how wonderful it is when the Lord blesses us with improvements in our circumstances after a difficult period. But though we may try to see and accept these situations philosophically, others may ignore the good things and only focus on the half-empty glass in front of them.

It can be painful when friends and family turn away from us because of our afflictions. It is astounding that when we need friends and family the most they can shun us, react with anger, resentment, childishness, just as we are already under the pressure of flaring illness and pain. I think this may be the worst thing about illness, worse than the pain and suffering of the illness itself.

One angry person is “mad.” Two angry people is “madness.”

I have often found that a very challenging part of my illness is not to return anger for anger. When my illness crushes expectations in others, and they react with anger, it can be a herculean task not to lash right back with my own anger and frustration. After all, I not only have the worsening illness to deal with and its disappointment, but also a “two-year-old” adult who is taking their anger out on me on top of everything else. I suspect I’m not alone in facing the madness of disappointed expectations.

I have learned over the years to take my frustrations and disappointments to God. Occasionally it may help to discuss how I’m feeling with others, but when the others are part of my frustration, it can very much be like reasoning with two-year-olds. Some people, despite their age, are not very mature, and you cannot reason with such people. The best you can do is pray that the Lord will help these people to wise up, grow up, and that God will give you the strength and patience to deal with such people as best you can.

It is very sad that on top of the weight of affliction and illness the afflicted must also deal with unmet expectations of others. Sometimes we must face our own frustrations over the bad turn of circumstances, but by far the hardest thing is to deal with the frustrations others thrust at us because we do not meet their unreasonable expectations. Sometimes I almost feel that I should wear the following sign:

I am someone living with an illness.
I will, to the best of my ability, try to live up to your expectations, but sometimes I will not meet them.
Because, as the first line says: I am someone living with an illness.

Prayer: Dear Lord, frustrations abound in our lives because of afflictions, and disappointment, especially coming from others, is very hard to bear. Help us, Lord, to be patient in affliction. Amen.

About the Author:
Karlton Douglas lives in Ohio with his lovely wife. Affliction has led to many failed expectations, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

You can now read this on your Kindle. Find out more at http://TodaysDevotionOnKindle.com

Do you have a hard time with failed expectations? How do you deal with the disappointment others have in you?

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13 thoughts on “When You Cannot Meet Everyone’s Expectations of You

  1. Karlton,

    Thank you for your devotinal which touched me very deeply today. It was hard to read, as this has been the most painful thing I have had to deal with in my own journey dealing with chronic illness. I find that people are usually good at supporting you for the short-term, but when the reality sets in that you are not going to get better, that this is for the long-haul, they get weary.

    One of the most painful things I have had to deal with is the disintegration and ultimate demise of my marriage due to my chronic illness. My ex-husband just could not deal with the “new normal” of our lives. I tried to not retaliate with anger for anger, and was usually successful (by God’s grace). But, like you said, some people can be so selfish and immature that there is no reasoning with them or getting through to them. And when it goes on for a long time, sometimes the anger can become abusive anger, and even end up making our illness worse because of the stress. Then, sometimes, you are forced to make a very, very difficult decision as to whether or not this person is someone who should remain in your life. Sometimes they make the decision for you. It will always be like a knife in my heart that my ex didn’t really love me for me, but just for the fun-loving, spontaneous “party girl” I seemed to be when he first met me, and who I could no longer continue to be.

    Anyway, thank you for letting me express myself here, and showing that you do understand by what you wrote.

    God bless.

  2. Julie, so sorry to hear what you have gone through. Illness puts such a terrible stress on marriage. It is truly terrible that so often we must not only deal with our illness, but the terrible reactions of others toward our conditions.
    Thank you for you comments.
    God Bless.

  3. Honestly, this web site has changed my entire life. You will never know. I thought I was the only one feeling these things. I’m not alone at all.wow!

    • In addition, my ex left me for the same exact reasons as the woman quoted above. Its been almost four years since he married his mail order bride from the philipenes. Guess whose divorced, back in the states, and wants to “be friends?” Not happening! The only people who understand are the ones who have walked in my shoes. And, those are the people on this web site. You guys are the biggest encouragement to me. I’ve lived with pain all of my life, but god is faithful to carry us when we need him.

  4. I have read RMs everyday, but this one touched me on a very personal level too.I too have sufferred because of an adult(my ex husband) not being able to deal with the cancellation of outings, or not being able to plan ahead etc due to chronic pain and illness.He became(or may have been all along) a very violant man, and these episodes were always at their worst when I was ill. I too tried to live by that verse ” Do not repay evil with evil” ….. or anger as you have put it. Twelve years later, I still sometimes think…..did I make this man the man he became, and feel the gulit.God was always in control, and always will be. I live each day as a blessing, and yes……..get a few great days and am over the moon, and become disappointed when they dont last.Asking ” why?” is not the way to go, yet I still do it.I am learning as new issues arise, to do as you have said…..take each day whether good or not so good, and call it a blessing.I have 3 married daughters and a few good friends who have stood by me no matter what. God id good, and always Faithful. Wishing you all well and today is another beautiful Blessing from God. Thank you for your story and your faith…..
    There is a saying Evangaline….. ” Don’t critisize me til you have walk a day in my shoes”. … maybe we need to put a sign around our necks!!! Also… Be kind to everyone as we do not know what is going on in their lives….things that may make them unhappy and not so nice, or the reverse….the brave front, when their world is falling apart. God bless you all, and this lovely ministery.Thanks.

  5. I didnt mean the above message to be a negative one. I forgot to include a couple of the wonderful things God has done for me the last couple of years. My chronic pain had another member join it when I fell and injured my back 3 years ago, rendering me pretty much immobile, so 3 surgeries later, I am worse off than before….but able to get about with a lot of pain , but not work etc. Due to this and not being able to travel because of severe pain, I was unable to visit my elderly parents for many months( a 3 hour drive).I had the ” urge” to ” go and see dad” so made up my mind to pick a day and go, praying God would make it happen.I went, and was blessed with a trip that was ok. My dad passed away the next morning.He was 89 and sufferring with dementia and then a chest infection, but even to me (an RN) his death wasnt expected so soon.I had had a lovely day with him before God called him home. Then I was blessed with the best week with little pain as I stayed with mum and we did what had to be done.I returned home and the pain returned worse than ever the next day. My mum wanted to come and visit by train after Christmas,.This concerned me as didnt want her to see the pain, but also wanted to make her trip to the city enjoyable. Once again, God stepped in and we had a great time, with little pain.The 3rd was just after my first op. when my grandson was born. He collapsed on day 5, and rushed to hospitals on the other side of the city for life saving heart surgery.I was again blessed with the time needed to be there for him and my daughter.(he is fine now and a normal 20 month old…..only thanks to God’s intervention when Drs failed)The pain returned as the need for me to be there decreased. I have had many such experiences. So, I think sometimes we just have to Step out in Faith and say God…..this is in your hands and I trust you. I know i have strayed from the topic, but wanted to add this to encourage you all to give it all to God, and let Him deal with it. I deal with people who just cant cope with me being able to commit to something, almost daily, but I am learning to let them deal with their own feelings, while i deal with what I have to.Guess as an older person, life has taught me a lot.I have a few friends with chronic illnesses, and understand what they are going through.My thoughts and prayers go with you all.

    • My ex husband also became very violent as I got worse. I wasn’t able to do the vacation activities and it literally crushed him. The true person came out of both of us. I drew closer to the lord and he drew further away. He even said, “what, I can’t have any fun!?” He was telling me he was going to cheat on me. I couldn’t believe it. I have grown in the lord more than ever through all of this. My daughter is 23 and has three boys. At my worse, she would say, “I want my old mom back.” We finally got counseling from a christian and we understand each other position now. She too can’t handle me being in pain and not being available for her 24/7 anymore. It’s a growing process for all involved. Thanks for sharing.

      • Thanks Evangaline.Hope things improve for you in all aspects.We do learn and grow through all of this….all the best.

  6. {{{{{evangeline}}}} and {{{{heather leigh}}}}

    Thank you so much for sharing your stories. I am so sorry for what you have both endured. It helps just to know I am not alone. I was almost too ashamed to post what I did, but now I’m glad I did, and allowed the conversation to be opened.

    Thank you for sharing what God has done positively in your lives as well. Evangeline, it is encouraging that you and your daughter has been helped with counseling in your relationship. My children are still relatively young, and I have been ill since before they were born (although it’s gotten worse in the last several years). When they were very young, they didn’t think anything about me was unusual. Now, they are just getting old enough and making friends where they see their moms, and realize that they are able to do so much more than me, and that it is not normal to be sick all the time. It breaks my heart when I have to tell them “no” so much. Praise God though, He has answered my prayers and blessed me with friends and family who have stepped up to the plate and have offered to do things with them that I am not able to. That is really an answer to prayer! It has taken me really trusting the Lord to “give up control” of my babies and let other people do stuff with them. But I know it is best for them and me in the long run, and will hopefully help, rather than hurt, our relationship.

    God bless you, sisters!

    • I am glad you posted Julie, even though I diverted from the topic. I hope you are able to do somethings with your kids, like make scrapbooks or memory books, help them to cook cupcakes etc, read to them…all these things help and create good memories. I was lucky my kids were in their teens, but still, they cope with ” if mum can do it” when we plan family events , babysitting etc. Fortunatelt, I can uusually manage these things as not so debilitated as so many.All the best, and thanks for the post. God bless you too.

  7. After reading your blog I am reminded that Jesus’ time on earth was spent for the most part setting an example for us as a guide. Even those closest to Him and the Israelite s when He needed them most turned their backs on Him after giving all to them because They did not understand and have faith in the great end promised and I believe as humans It’s even harder when we don’t let him lead or have our problems.

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