Expectations. Perceptions. Preconceived notions.
As I’ve been on the path to becoming the woman God has created me to be, the Holy Spirit has challenged me to seek out the truth instead of that which is based on my expectations, perceptions, or preconceived notions that I have in my life. When I started digging into this, I was so surprised at how deep-rooted and false so many of my thoughts were.
I’ve been working on letting go of expectations for years. An expectation is defined as a feeling or belief about how successful, good, perfect, amazing someone or something will be. My unbiblical expectations of marriage. My unspoken expectations of others. My young, inexperienced expectations of raising children (I once dreamed of having 20 babies….then I realized that babies grow up…) Many of these expectations were based on feelings, fictional books and movies that totally sugar-coated reality, and from listening to others rave about how perfect everything in their life was. None of these were based on reality.
I’ve recently started to see how badly perceptions can cloud our view of the world. The dictionary defines a perception as
- The way you think about or understand someone or something.
- The way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses. (Are feelings a sense!?!)
I’m specifically thinking about the first definition. For me how I THINK about something translates to how I FEEL about something. This particularly happens to me when I’m hurt, angry, or base my views on how a particular instance makes me feel, and again, not based on reality.
My most recent foray into all of this has been about my preconceived notions. The dictionary defines this as “an opinion formed before hand without adequate evidence” (or facts). I was recently at an event for ladies and after listening to women from all walks of life, body styles, and histories talk about overcoming the same things (doubt, fear, lack of self-worth, not seeing themselves worthy, etc) I realized I had a preconceived notion that only certain women struggled with these important aspects but not ALL of us! As I listened to these women, I wrote in my journal “I need to EXPLODE my preconceived notions!”
The TRUTH is the first line of defense to start dismantling these things in our lives.
As a Christian, the first place we should be looking for truth at is in the Bible, with prayer, and by taking the time to reflect on what is revealed to us. Some questions you can ask are: Is this Biblical? What does the Bible (and not what man says the Bible says) on the subject? Are any of my expectations, perceptions, or preconceived notions lining up to the Bible?
The other way to counteract this, is for women to be real with each other. Women sharing the MESSINESS of living: our mistakes, our sins, bad choices, messy homes, forgotten meals, parenting struggles, marriage struggles, our past! And sharing the grace of God through it all. His beautiful story of redemption doesn’t just live in the Bible nor is it reserved for the select few in the world around us, we each have many, many stories of redemption, grace, mercy, and forgiveness to experience and share.
With this realness comes a large responsibility. That responsibility, command really, comes from the Bible. That is to give the person openly sharing about their messy lives with you love, acceptance, grace, and mercy. While we are all works in progress until Christ brings us home, we are all in different places on our journey. Some are just beginning and are sharing now, looking for guidance, acceptance, love, mercy….a mentor! Others are further along the path having faced some of their issues head on but still working through others now (or going through issues they thought they had already dealt with!). Let me just say we will all be dealing with issues from now until we find ourselves with our Savior and some of us really seem to like revisit the same things over and OVER and OVER again. Just know that whether the person is reaching out for the first time or it is a speaker who seems to have all her stuff together, sharing with you is likely one of the most difficult things she has ever done.
The Bible talks a lot about how we are to respond to the messy reality of life and what Christ did for us because God the Father KNEW we would need a Savior.
John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
Christ knew everything we have done, and He doesn’t condemn us….we shouldn’t condemn others either. Also….there is only One Savior. It’s our gift to share our story…ultimately sharing Christ’s story of redemption.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God knew everything we would do….and He STILL loved us. That means we have to love others as well.
Luke 2:15-17 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Him and His disciples, for there were many who followed Him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw Him eating with the sinners and the tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said “It is not for the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.”
If we lived perfect lives, why did Christ have to die on the cross and rise again? He came because we are all broken and all in need of a Savior and of love.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Christ comes alongside us to carry our burdens, to teach us, to give us rest. I also think this is a calling for us to come alongside others with humbleness and gentleness and to help guide them to God’s word and His yoke.
A word of caution. God loves us so much He doesn’t want us to stay where we are. He is, after all, in the business of transforming lives.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.