When We Fail Our Own Expectations

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a student. As I read her words, moving and real, I felt the still, small Voice. I knew that day, reading her heart splayed across the screen, they would resonate with you too. So tonight, I have invited my student, Maddie K., to join me amongst the Petals. With strong convictions and wisdom beyond her years, she has a message you may need. I know I did. 

I’ve always lived with expectations. Expectations of those around me. Expectations of decisions. Expectations of myself. I’ve felt burdened with my standards to the point where I break. I place an overwhelming amount of trust in expectations. It’s a risky business, though, you see. More often than not, my expectations fail me.

I am left unsatisfied.



Yearning for something more than what I’ve found. Building up walls around my soul instead of breaking them down. I could never pinpoint the source for my constant yearning. My constant need for expectations to be met.

Then it hit me several years ago at Luther Springs, a Christian camp. I sat there in my cabin, my head resting heavily against my balled-up fist, my soul resting heavily against my heart. All around me were worn out posters and photos of past camps and past campers whose lives had undoubtedly been filled—yet, there I sat, as soulfully dry as the Sahara. I was lost in all sense of the word.

I was a confused thirteen year-old girl who had just experienced the turmoil of a divorce and the destruction of a content life. My expectations were ripped into a million pieces and thrown into a waste bin.

Then I saw it.

It peeked out of the corner of my duffel—sadly crisp and seldom touched. A Bible. It seemed to be calling out to me in the quiet of that cabin, “Read me, reach for me, revel in my words.”


So I did. I picked up the unassuming book. All at once, I felt as if I was holding a spiritual elephant in my hands, weighed down by its words. I set the Bible down, unsure of where to even start. The only thing I knew: it would relieve my yearning.

Then I was reminded of a phrase often repeated in my childhood years: Let the children come to me. This pushed me to randomly flip to a page in the Bible. I landed on Matthew 11. To this day, one verse from that chapter still speaks to me:

“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.
Matthew 11: 29-30

Through that verse I discovered the key in solving my spiritual unrest was simple. I needed to give control to Jesus.

That one night at camp forever affected me. I gave my expectations over to The Lord. I let Him take my burden, and was instantly changed.

Since that pivotal moment in my spiritual life, I have lived knowing that in Jesus there is solace. His expectations are far easier than mine. I have a ten-page, single-spaced, bullet-point list of expectations.

Jesus has two words: Love Me.

I expect things from earthly creation. Jesus expects things from the spirit.

I realize that every time I create expectations of earthly things I am disappointed. Yet, if I instead aim to meet God’s expectations I experience joy.

Blissful ease.


I will never be let down when I am led by God’s hand. He will never let go. He will never back down. He is my Father, my Abba. And He has great things planned when we live for Him. Trust me.


MaddieMeet Maddie! As a talented, almost-senior with a passion for track and field, she shines her light for the rest of the world to see. Her deep desire to know God more, inspires me and reminds me our teenagers have the potential to offer our world a brighter future.

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2 Responses to When We Fail Our Own Expectations

  1. Ruth Packard says:

    I love these beautiful words…rich with joy and encouragement! Thank you for posting!

  2. betty clukey says:

    what beauty in the heart of maddie, GOD has given her great faith.. when GOD gets a hold on a young life it is always inspiring, the heavens are open and all things are possible.. thanku for sharing this story!!