“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt
I’ve liked this quote since the first time I heard it. It’s one of those that made me say “Exactly! That is so right!” So many times in my life I miss joy because I’ve compared myself or my circumstances to someone else’s.
Recently I’ve found something else that steals my joy. Expectation. Expectation has been the thief of my joy. What I’m finding to be true in my life is that when I put my expectation in anything other than God, it’s coming up short. When my expectations are not met, it leaves me angry and irritated.
An example of this happened just last week. I had gone to a doctor’s appointment at 7:30 in the morning. It was going to be a long appointment because I had to receive an infusion (for my UC) and those last usually between 2.5-3.5 hours. After it was finished I was told I needed to get a scan done. My appointment for the scan wasn’t until 1:00 but they were sure I could be “worked in.” So a little after 10:30 I finish my infusion and walk over to my next appointment. They check me in and I take a seat. I wait. And wait. Then I wait some more. Finally after an hour, I go up to the desk to ask if my name has been called and I somehow missed it. She went back to check then told me no. She also asked me if I was aware my appointment was at 1:00. Yes, I told her, I know but I was told I could be “worked in” (Don’t worry, guys, I didn’t use air quotes.) She said ok, they’re just a little backed up. Then she proceeds to tell me that I’m next on the list for this scan. Perfect. I don’t mind waiting a little longer. Another hour goes by. At this point, I want to leave but I feel like I’m too invested. I’ve waited too long to leave now. If I leave now, I’ll just be a schmuck that fell for the old “You’re next in line” bait. (Side note:: I couldn’t help but think of the Friends episode when Phoebe stays on hold for a day because the recording kept telling her she was the next caller. I feel you, Pheebs.)
Finally after 30 more minutes, I get up and walk over to the front desk, hand her my clipboard, and tell the lady I’m leaving. She asked if I wanted to reschedule, I said I’d call. I had let myself get to the “I’m so angry my voice is shaky because I’m trying not to cry I’m so angry” place. It was really a precious sight. I walked out of that place at 1:30. I had waited for 2.5 hours. I felt like a schmuck.
I had the expectation that I could be worked into their schedule and when that didn’t work out I let the waiting steal my joy. The people-watching was sort of phenomenal so at least there was a bit of a silver lining. So often in my life I let my expectations hold my joy. If I put expectations on Kyle and he doesn’t meet them, I’m disappointed. If I put expectations on my kids to be kind to one another or not fight and they do it anyway, I’m irritated. If I plan a day perfectly and it doesn’t work out that way, I feel defeated. If I exercise and eat healthy for 5 days and my body doesn’t change on the outside, I want to give up.
Then it’s like God taps me on the shoulder and whispers in my ear, “You’re putting your expectation, or HOPE, in the world. The world was never meant to fulfill your HOPES. I am the only One who can do that for you.”
When I was looking for affirmation of this in the Word I found many verses that supported the truth that our hope is to be found in the Lord, not the things of this world.
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” 1 Tim. 6:17 (ESV)
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1 (ESV)
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Rom. 15:13 (NIV)
“Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Rom. 8:24-25 (ESV)
When I let my hope, or my expectation, reside in this world I always get what the world has to offer me: disappointment. I’m learning there’s a reason for that. When I allow the joy of knowing Jesus Christ to fill me up, I quit expected Kyle to fill me up. When I remember to deal with my kids the way Christ deals with me, I don’t expect them to be perfect. When I allow for flexibility, or grace, in my schedule, I feel at peace with the day. When I rest in the fact that God doesn’t care if I ever weigh 125lbs again, I can workout hard and know that I did what was best for my body even if the scale doesn’t move. These are the things I need to remember. The world can’t offer me this kind of hope. It’s just not capable of doing it. The world tells me I have to look a certain way or have a certain body to be considered pretty. The world also tells me if people don’t make me happy I should leave them. The world tells me I’m only as good as my Pinterest board or Facebook page makes me look. The world tells me that my job as a parent is to make my kids happy.
The world is full of crap.
The world has made idols of these expectations. These are things we’re supposed to strive for then our lives will be perfect. Have you ever wanted something so badly and then when you got it, it was just ok? This is what we’ve fallen into. We think if we can just be this, or do that, or reach this goal, then we’ll really be somebody. Then when we get there it’s just…ok. If we put our trust and in the God who created us and knows us, this is the only chance we have at joy. He’s the only One with the ability to give it completely.
Expectations are the thief of joy.
Yes, I think this statement is much more accurate.
PS–Waiting rooms are also the thief of joy.
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