I think that we go through something similar to grief when we realize that our lives, families, or marriages differ significantly from what we expected and/or desired. So, how do we deal with disappointed expectations? Can we deal with them the same way that we deal with grief?
First, we’re confused. Why isn’t life the way I expected it to be?
Next, we’re hurt. Either our spouse, family, or God isn’t loving us the way we hoped to be loved. Or they aren’t loving each other the way we hoped for.
Then, anger. It has to be someone’s fault. So, who’s is it?
Then on to guilt. It’s all my fault. I am doing everything wrong. Otherwise we’d all get along and life would be peaceful.
Next, fatigue sets in when we try to be perfect. The problem is we can’t be perfect enough—which leads into the next step.
Fear. Will things ever change? Will I ever feel like I’m good enough? Will I ever feel like I am loveable? Will I ever feel well loved or valued for who I am? Will things get better?
Finally, acceptance. This is the way life is, so I need to stop trying to change it. I need to accept it and move on.
But, there’s another side to all of this. What if it looked like this:
Stage 1: Yuck. This isn’t what I’d hoped for and dreamed of.
Stage 2: Anger. We vent to God and a close confidante who’ll point you back to your family and to God.
Stage 3: Forgiveness. Seek to understand the depth of God’s forgiveness of us, that we might then forgive the ones we love when they wrong us and hurt our feelings—intentionally or unintentionally.
Stage 4: Love as He has loved us. Realize that we all have strengths and weaknesses. We may not always be the easiest people to live with and love. We are all sinners. So, love. Overlook faults. Overlook not picking up. Overlook and show grace.
Stage 5: Accept God’s Plan A. It may seem sometimes like Plan B, but God’s in control and everything is really His Plan A. He wants to grow us. Sometimes it’s also not all about us, but about the people we love and that God has purposefully brought into our lives.
Stage 6: So, what now? Live, accept, grow. If there’s a problem, I start with me.
The hard part is that there’s all sorts of books that will tell you if you do this, then your life will look like xyz. If you love your husband or wife just so, then they’ll love you the way you want to be loved. But, people aren’t robots. We can’t just change people. There’s no guarantees in life.
God just tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He doesn’t promise what it’s going to look like.