The weight of expectations

Ecclesiastes. I will venture a bet it’s not a book in the Old Testament too many of you have read. I know I haven’t. But, it’s quickly moving up the list. And, believe it or not, it does tie into Thankful Thursday.

The Old Testament book doesn’t dance around the hard questions of life, but doesn’t provide easy answers either. In many ways, the author (believed to be King Solomon) takes on a viewpoint about the meaninglessness of life. The author of the book believes life is temporary and fleeting like a breath, smoke or vapor….and it’s meaningless in the end to spend our time in search of the temporary. That the pleasures of this world are not supposed to be the “it” that fills our lives with meaning or purpose.

His point? In the end, everything in life vanishes when the dust of death blows through our lives. We need to learn how to appreciate the NOW of our lives NOW because it will all be taken from us in the end.

Life is unpredictable. Entrepreneur and I are keenly aware of this. The pressures we put on ourselves in this life, like the heavy snow we had in January, can weigh us down to the point where it’s hard to appreciate and enjoy our temporary and fleeting life. Like heavy snow, we pile on expectation after expectation of what we think life should be like….what we want life to be like…what we think we need in order to make us happy. All the time chasing after the next shiny new thing  in hopes IT will make a difference in our how happy and content we are with life.

And then, when we least expect it, a storm blows in, we’re flung into a snowbank, and everything changes.

We break. Our expectation that the universe owes us a happy life, filled with all things wonderful is suddenly shattered. Those tertiary things we were chasing after, thinking we were somehow owed them, disappear in a vapor of disappointment. And what’s left is the wreckage. Sometimes major wreckage.

We all have our breaking point. Many of our trees found their breaking point under the heavy snow layered on their branches. And the extent of the damage was really only seen in full after the initial assault had passed. When we try to carry the weight of unrealistic expectations, there will be a point in time where we break as well. Whether it’s expectations about relationships, job success, accomplishments or finances, we all fall into the trap of comparing our lives to others and wishing for more. And when it doesn’t happen, we break just like that weakened tree limb heavy-laden with snow.

Depressing stuff, huh?  But the author of Ecclesiastes doesn’t let us wallow in despair for long. He offers wisdom that encourages us to understand the temperance of this human life, and not obsess over unrealistic expectations. We should accept our human condition has its limitations, but fully enjoy the gifts given to us while we’re here. To be content with gratitude for what we have; tasting, seeing and feeling the good things of life…understanding the things of this world are temporary.

Ecclesiastes teaches us how to live meaningfully, purposefully and joyfully, thanking God for the gifts he’s given us while we’re on this earth….knowing there is so much more waiting for us after this life. We should stop chasing the wind for our happiness and be content in God’s providence. What is does not mean is we shouldn’t explore and discover new things about ourselves and our world. This is not a blind acceptance of the status quo or an excuse not to be good stewards of what we’ve been given. It’s a heart issue about realizing this life is not the IT we’re yearning for.

Interwoven through the book is a balance between our expectations of this unpredictable life and God’s promise of life eternal for those who put their faith in him.

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. ~Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Blog hopping with Thankful Thursday, hosted by Brian’s Home and a late link up with Pictorial Tuesday, hosted by Peabea Scribbles. 


9 thoughts on “The weight of expectations

  1. so thoughtfully written. I think this life is it while we’re here… and when we move to the next as souls do, that is our life to live in the spirit form too. It’s all about learning, loving, accepting isn’t it? There is more under the heavens than we’re aware of, is some Shakespearean quote right? You have some heavy experiences happening now, I wish you strength. You already have perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As lapaylor said, thoughtfully and beautifully written. Life has a lot of speed bumps, which i think are sometimes necessary to jolt us out of our complacency – although they are often always very painful. And we are all certain none of those “really bad” things will happen to us – until they do. It is up to us how we deal with it – your way is through your faith, which I think is admirable. I applaud you for your thoughtfulness, and your grace (mostly – none of us are perfect) in facing what is dealt you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa, the post is so beautifully expressed. Your words went right to my heart because I could identify with so much of what you shared here – expectations, sudden life changes, and chasing after things we think will make us happier.

    You summed it up perfectly in this paragraph…

    “We should accept our human condition has its limitations, but fully enjoy the gifts given to us while we’re here. To be content with gratitude for what we have; tasting, seeing and feeling the good things of life…understanding the things of this world are temporary.”


    And you’re right, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore and discover new things because we should.

    I think of life as a dance. Sometimes we “lead” the dance, and other times we must “follow” the Leader.

    Life is a delicate dance of sensing when to lead and when to follow.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings, my friend. I don’t find that depressing at all. It’s simply…life.

    Have a super weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes, I think life does remind us of what really is important in our daily world. I know that I’ve been guilty of not appreciating, and then regretting when the opportunity passed to appreciate something so simple. The year started out tragically, and I don’t like those reminders of how fragile our world really is. Appreciate every moment, and the people in our lives. Worth more than any next shiny thing. Such words of wisdom and reminders in your post. Thankful for the reminders. 🙂 I’m in process of re-reading through the Bible so now looking forward to when I get to Ecclesiastes again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Thankful Thursday – Comedy Plus

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