Real friendships bring out the best in you.  And, if they’re truly authentic connections with quality human beings, they will undoubtedly bring out the worst.

I’ll never forget the time my best friend and I sat, puffy-eyed and frustrated, on opposite ends of my loveseat, allowing our emotions to bubble over and our disappointment in each other to surface. 

We had totally set ourselves up

Both newly married, with priorities changing, we were discovering our lofty expectations had been near impossible to live up to.  It seemed we had become thoroughly disenchanted with what we had assumed was the perfect friendship.  The “honeymoon phase” clearly over, we were now uncovering baggage, and subsequently spent the next 2 years navigating some rough waters, clinging tightly to the torn fabric of our friendship.

Fast forward 4 years; this amazing woman is not only one of my favorite people on the planet, but our friendship is sweeter, deeper and richer than ever, having weathered the storm of unrealistic expectations {not to mention the rough waters of motherhood}.  A best friend in the truest form.

Take that dynamic to the next level…and marry one of your best friends.

Beauty blossoms.  Ugliness surfaces. 

Expectations soar.  Disappointment brews.

We feel our deepest needs aren’t getting met the way we expect they should…and so we distance ourselves and refuse to meet theirs.

I’ve heard it said, “if you can’t handle having your sin exposed…don’t get married”.

Woah.  Let’s hear it for the jagged little pill of truth!

But…and here’s the catch…this is good!  So good!

It’s not an accident, this “until death us do part” thing.

It’s not even a “con” in a list of marital pros and cons. 

It’s downright brilliant!

God designed intimate fellowship this way, especially within the marriage covenant, to cultivate a safe place in which to expose the depths of who we are.  The deep, dark, ugly side we hoped no one would ever experience {and for many of us, we didn’t even know much of it existed until we got married and had kids and it unabashedly bubbled up from the depths!}.

But once exposed, God scoops us up in all our heart-nakedness, and sets about remolding, refining, healing and maturing us. 

It’s a wild and hairy, gloriously beautiful thing.

One of the divine designs behind God-centered friendship.

I’m finding as I grow older and settle into the stunningly authentic relationships God has so sweetly blessed me with, that one of the deepest issues being slowly uprooted from my life {besides the unbelievable selfishness that is so stubbornly rooted within the human heart}, is the burden of expectation.

Expectation [ek-spek-tey-shuhn]:

the act or the state of expecting

Expectation.  It’s a word that carries with it tremendous responsibility, and the potential to inspire life & growth, or squeeze the very joy out of life.  When recklessly dished out, expectations have the ability to devastate our relationships and leave chasms of disappointment between us.

When I go about life with varying levels of expectation on my friendships, be it with girlfriends or family, or in my marriage, I put tremendous pressure on those people to meet needs that, quite honestly, they were never intended to meet.  And when they don’t meet those expectations, disappointment inevitably occurs, discontentment breeds and walls are built.

If comparison kills contentment, expectation breeds disappointment.

The crazy part is we don’t even realize we’re doing this. 

Expectation is so much a part of our culture, and our inward-focused mentality, that we’re not aware of the painful pressure it places on our interaction with others.  Formed most often from preconceived notions and lofty perceptions of what we think marriage {and relationships in general} should fulfill in us, we go through life being constantly disappointed that others are not meeting our needs, our expectations of them.  Not to mention, carrying the weight of that sense that we too are a disappointment to those around us.  That we don’t meet their expectations of us.

It’s a royal mess.

We seem to have forgotten that God indeed created us with the intrinsic need for value, identity, worth and fulfillment {all vital needs that yearn to be met}…but that He is the only one truly able to meet those needs.  Sure, he uses precious people in our lives to confirm and affirm these things in us…but He alone is the one designed to satisfy the ache in our hearts, our desire to be fully known, unconditionally accepted, and our constant need to be extravagantly loved.

As long as I place those expectations on my husband, I’m setting him up for failure, and myself for disappointment.  My marriage was never designed to bear that kind of weight.

As long as I place those expectations on my friendships, we walk on eggshells, never quite knowing where we stand, with defeat and failure looming just around the corner.  Our friendships were never designed to shoulder this responsibility.

It’s time to lay {unhealthy} expectation to rest.

For oh…what sweet freedom is experienced in relationships where expectation has been laid down, and in it’s place, a selfless pursuit of a love-drenched life taken up…and lived out with God-centered expectancy.


“A Godly woman is one who possesses inner peace and tranquility:

she doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone.

Neither does she depend on recognition from others.

Hers is an inner contentment and satisfaction

based not on accomplishments, position, or authority;

but on a deep awareness of God’s eternal

and personal love for her”.

By Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. The Better Baker
    May 19, 2011 @ 04:11:21

    What a lovely post – from a very lovely woman! Thanks for letting her share here….I am blessed and I am sharing Blessings!


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