Have you ever had someone say to you, “I need you to … (fill in the blank) for me to … (fill in the blank)? That is a classic example of misplaced expectations. Many people, like me, who have grown up in dysfunctional families develop an inflated sense of responsibility. Instead of politely responding to the unreasonable projected expectation by saying, “While I respect your need to have… (fill in the blank) to meet your need for …. (fill in the blank), I am not able to fulfill that request.” That response respects the other person’s need and respects your choice as to whether it is something you can or are willing to do it or not.
However, most people come from some type of past dysfunction and respond to another’s misplaced expectation by either making an excuse, getting angry or by avoiding the other person.
Sound familiar? I must confess that I am still a work in progress and tend to internalize, the unrealistic expectation, make and excuse and follow it by avoidance. However, I don’t need to stay there! Sometimes, I do respond in a healthy and respectful way, but when I don’t, I can stop right there, thank the Lord for showing me my brokenness and surrender it to Him. I can choose to short circuit the destructive dysfunctional cycle and allow God’s grace to meet my repentant heart with forgiveness, and then I can go to the other person and ask for forgiveness for my broken response. That doesn’t mean I agree to do what was inappropriately expected. It just means we can go back to the point of exchange and respond in a respectful, kind and appropriate way. In Matt. 18, Yeshua instructs us to go to the other person to make right our part of the wrong, with the hope of reconciliation.
But, if after doing that, the other person chooses not to reconcile, we can forgive and pray for the other person and rest in God’s shalom. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Although we can’t choose for another, we can choose to live our lives in the way of the Lord that brings His shalom.