Tag Archives: expectations

Don’t Set People Up To Fail You.

Originally published in The Grip

A while back, our 13 year old, John Henry, got upset with his dad and responded to him poorly. Kris decided to take his phone and keep it until he apologized. While I knew Kris just wanted John Henry to recognize his poor response and how his words hurt, I wasn’t on board with his strategy, and Kris was open to hear my heart on it. At times, Kris and I disagree with how the other is handling a parenting issue, and one of us checks the other. I felt, in this situation, Kris was setting John Henry up to fail.

“He should know to go to his dad and ask for forgiveness and make this right.” Perhaps. But, sometimes, we know to make something right but have a hard time doing it, for whatever the reason may be. Placing expectations on someone to respond in a certain way only sets that person up to fail you. I’ve seen countless relationships that function this way. Especially in marriage. One sets the other up to see if he or she will respond in a certain way, and if that person “fails the test,” anger and resentment abound. “If she doesn’t come to me and apologize.” “If he doesn’t notice what I did and say ‘thank you.’” The list of examples could on and on. Instead of testing someone who doesn’t even know he or she is being tested, go to him or her. Share your heart and what you are needing from that person. Make sure you don’t come in on the offensive with words and phrases like, “you always” or “you never.” Instead, put it back on you. “It makes me feel unappreciated when you do this,” or “I am needing this from you right now.” Pay attention to your sound and tone. Go into the conversation not only ready to share your heart, but prepare yourself to listen to the other person’s heart as well.”

Kris made the decision to go to John Henry and ask him why he responded the way he did. Kris explained how his words hurt him. Both were able to share their heart, and there were no unfair expectations placed on John Henry without him knowing those expectations. Kris was able to coach John Henry in how to respond in situations when he gets angry and upset. It became a coachable moment instead of a set-up and test. See the difference? The same applies in all of our relationships. Don’t set people up to fail you. It’s simply not fair. And, more times than not, that person will, indeed, fail you. You have two options when you are wanting something from another person: 1) Go to them, and share your heart with the tenderest of tones, or 2) Decide it’s something you can let go and manage without. Both options are necessary at different times in our lives. Both options place you in a position where you are choosing the relationship. Both options are redemptive. And, neither is unfair.

Let’s not place expectations on people. And, if we do, and they fail us, let’s choose forgiveness instead of resentment. Let’s play fair, extend mercy, and handle each other with the greatest of care.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Colossians 3:13

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Filed under Marriage, parenting, Relationships, Uncategorized

Making Allowances.

* Written for The Grip, August 30, 2012

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Colossians 3:13

It’s easy to remember the forgive part.  Okay, it’s easier.  It’s the first part we tend to overlook:  Make allowance for each other’s faults.  Most of us have a difficult time making allowances for each other’s faults.  In other words, we don’t allow people to fail us.  We forget to make those allowances.  The truth is every person we are in relationship with will fail us.  My spouse will fail me.  My children will fail me.  My friends will fail me.  And, I will fail them.  The key is to not allow those moments to define that relationship.  Instead, we must view it as a moment in time.  A moment where we allowed that person to fail us.  A moment where we forgave them as soon as they did.  A moment.  That’s all.

Even though none of us think of ourselves as perfect, we still have a tough time allowing others to be flawed.  As a parent, I have to constantly remind myself to allow my children fail.  I have to guard against over-parenting.  There are times I try to prevent them from failing instead of letting them make mistakes.    Allowing them to fail.  I want to protect them from failure.  But, if I could protect them from every single failure, they would never see their need for a Savior.

I’m going to fail you.  You’re going to fail me.  When we do, we have a gap.  On one side of that gap is my expectation of you.  On the other side of that gap is what actually happens.  We choose what goes in the gap when someone fails us.  We can fill that gap with bitterness, anger, or hurt.  Or, we can fill that gap with forgiveness, grace, and allowances for that person’s faults.

We choose what goes in the gap.

Paul follows up Colossians 3:13 with this:

14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.

Get up every morning and wrap yourself in love.  Choose peace over being right.  And, be thankful for those people in your life…..

Even when they fail you.


Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, Love, Relationships

Big Mama Says We Talk Too Much.

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself in my kitchen singing the words to “You Are Good.”  These lyrics rang through my head until nighttime:

Your kindness leads me to repentance
Your goodness draws me to Your side
Your mercy calls me to be like You
Your favor is my delight
Every day, I’ll awaken my praise
And pour out a song from my heart.

Romans 2:4 says, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you?  Does this mean nothing to you?  Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”

It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance.  It’s His goodness that draws us.

My translation:  Stop judging and be so dang intolerant of other people.  God uses kindness, sweet words, and forgiveness to transform our own lives into something beautiful.

When people disappoint us….

When people don’t live up to our expectations….

Fill in the gap of your expectation of someone and what that someone actually does with kindness and forgiveness.

Even with your spouse.

Give him or her the benefit of the doubt.  When has expressing your disappointment with your spouse EVER worked?  There is a definite time and place for healthy communication.  Healthy.  There is also a time to keep your mouth shut.

I remember being aggravated with Kris once for not taking care of something before he left for a trip.  I was so stinking mad.  I picked up the phone to call him and tell him exactly how I felt about his oversight.

Fortunately for Kris, Big Mama was at my house.

“Talk, talk, talk. That’s the trouble with young people.  They think they need to talk everything out.  Sometimes, you just need to keep your mouth shut.  Put the phone down, and just forgive him.”

I’m pretty sure filling in the gap with forgiveness and a closed mouth did more for my marriage than that phone call would’ve done.

Trying to bring conviction to someone’s life never goes the way we think it will.  But kindness will always bring about effectual change.   And often times, our kindness towards others changes US.

It’s how God functions.   And, since we are of God….created in His image….isn’t it how we should function?

I am so thankful for His patience.  For His love.  For His mercy.

And, so thankful that His mercy calls us to be like Him.  Because, His ways are truly better.


Filed under Big Mama, disappointment, God Stuff, Marriage, Relationships