Healthy Hope vs Unhealthy Expectation – Hope Series
This is the last post in the Hope Series, if you haven’t read any of the others, be sure to check them out. I’ve personally learned quite a bit as I’ve written them and been personally challenged too. Hope is such a real and powerful aspect to our every day lives, and today we’re going to make a comparison: Healthy Hope vs Unhealthy Expectation
Healthy Hope vs Unhealthy Expectation
Why does it matter?
William Shakespeare, in an apparent moment of melancholy, made the statement, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” While I don’t think that applies to every situation, I can certainly see the point he is making.
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” – William Shakespeare
— Jeremy Binns (@Jeremy_Binns) October 19, 2012
I personally prefer another quote, “What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.” There is a very grey area between healthy hopes and unhealthy expectations.
In one of the other posts, I talked about all of the negative effect that failed hopes have on our lives. Unhealthy expectations are very similar to hopes, but we set ourselves up for relentless heartache and disappointment when we consistently have unhealthy expectations.
On the other hand of the equation we have healthy hopes, which are very similar to expectations. There are significant differences however. Healthy hopes fuel the vibrant and flourishing nature of our spirits.
What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be. — Jeremy Binns (@Jeremy_Binns) October 19, 2012
What is an Unhealthy Expectation.
Not all expectations are bad, and the key difference in healthy hope vs unhealthy expectation is much more obvious when we define the word expectation. The word ‘expect’ is defined as something that we regard as likely to happen. For instance, I expect to get paid on Friday.
Expectations are those things that we anticipate will happen. Unhealthy expectations happen when we anticipate results that are outside of our control and influence.
For instance, if you have never spoken to someone before, it would be unrealistic and unhealthy to say that you will likely (expect to) marry that person, or, it would be unhealthy to expect that you’ll lose 150 pounds before Christmas when it’s already October.
What is a Healthy Hope?
One definition of the word hope is to look forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence. Simply put, hopes are things that we want to happen. They may be likely to happen, or they may be extravagant dreams that stretch our faith and imagination.
Hopes are attached to possibilities in life. They are our dreams. My desire is that the hopes you hold dear tomorrow will be even greater than those you hold today.
Healthy hopes are those hopes which are rooted in arenas of life which we have the power, either directly or indirectly, to influence. Directly though my own actions, or indirectly through my prayers and by exercising my faith in God to work on my behalf.
With God’s involvement, our hopes do not have to be limited to our own abilities. Dream big today, and dream even bigger tomorrow. Stretch your hopes beyond what you would ordinarily ask or think.
It is just imperative that you make the distinction between a healthy hope (no matter how outrageous) and an unhealthy expectation.
To use the relationship example again, go ahead and hope to meet the perfect spouse, but just don’t expect that the first person you meet will be the one. Refusing to let go of your own hopes will often mean that you’ll be unable to take hold of the hopes God has for you.
Refusing to let go of your own hopes will often mean that you’ll be unable to take hold of the hopes God has for you.
— Jeremy Binns (@Jeremy_Binns) October 19, 2012
Here are a few questions that can help you tell the difference between healthy hope vs unhealthy expectation:
1. Can I make this hope / expectation happen, and is it beneficial to myself and others? If so then go ahead, expect and hope for it. Just take the actions necessary to see it through. If not, see question number 2.
2. Is this something that is in alignment with the purpose and plan of God? If so, then continue to hope for it and exercise your faith to see it come to pass. Only understand that just because something doesn’t contradict the word of God, it doesn’t mean that it is within the scope of His plan for your life. If you can’t make it happen, and it isn’t in the plan of God for your life, see question three.
3. If this hope / expectation isn’t within my control and isn’t in alignment with God’s plans for my life, then what am I missing out by holding onto this unhealthy expectation? Clinging to an unhealthy expectation will prevent you from receiving the best things in life that God has truly purposed for you.
One of the most difficult thing to do in life is to let go of our expectations and dreams. If those dreams are made up of unhealthy expectations though, they will only lead to disappointment and heartache. Sometimes you have to be willing to let go of the good before you can take hold of the best.
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. – Jeremiah 29:11
View the entire hope series here:
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. Is this something you struggle with? Is it tough to make the distinction between healthy hopes vs unhealthy expectations? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.