Tag Archives: expectations

What do you do when you realise you’re not living out what you say you value?

My friend Sarah wrote a great post last week called “When the exceptions to your routines become the rule” and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s well worth a read!

Her key point is that our lives can change and without realising it we find there is a disconnect between our ideas about the way we routinely live and the reality. And it has challenged me to consider where this might be true in my own life.

For example, I think of myself as a person who is always on time to things. But my life is currently a whole lot busier than it has been in previous years, and that perspective I have of myself is no longer entirely true. My Book Club friends could attest to this as for some reason they bear the brunt of it – I’m nearly always late (although come to think of so are many of them – perhaps we should change our meeting time!)

More significantly, I like to think of myself as a person who responds to communication from others promptly. I value good communication highly and try to work towards “inbox zero”. But between juggling four email addresses, text messages, and Facebook messages, I have to admit that things fall through the cracks sometimes. The reality is that I am not always as on top of my communications as I would like to think I am. And this means that other people probably don’t see me the same way I see myself.

Apparently my brother-in-law believes emails should responded to within the day. If that is the  expectation then I fail it regularly, particularly when it’s a reply that will take more than a minute or two. And when I mentioned this whole issue to one of my closest friends this week, she said, “Yes, you take ages to respond to text messages.” Ouch! But thanks for the reality check.

So what do we do when we recognise that we are not meeting our own expectations? Do we adjust our expectations or our reality?

Do I need to admit to myself that although I would like to be a person who is on time and replies to others in a timely manner, I’m just not? Or do I need to ask myself whether (and why) I still value promptness and then think about how I can re-establish it in my daily practices?

Sarah’s advice is this:

“A deliberate life that honours what matters to us most means constant recalibration of our routines.”

When I slow down and think about it, I have to say that I do value promptness. Not for its own sake, but because I value the people to whom I show it. I value their time, their commitment, their engagement with me. And it’s when I lose sight of that and focus more on myself (how busy I am or how stressed I am) that I overlook the message I am sending to them by my behaviour.

So perhaps this post functions as a confession. I do not live up to my own desire to be a person who demonstrates how much I value others in the way I respond to them.

It also functions as an apology. Friends, I’m sorry if I have dishonoured you or undervalued your time by not responding to you as you needed me to. Please forgive me.

It also functions as an attempt to make myself more accountable. I recognise that I need friends who are willing to call me out and remind me when I’m not living out what I say I value.

And maybe this post can also function as a reminder to some of you, that busyness can be one of the biggest hindrances to good relationships and true community.  And that it’s worth letting someone challenge you to rethink your own practices and habits so that you might be honest with yourself and make sure that you haven’t overlooked what you truly value due to a false sense of your own experience.

 

Responding to evil in the world: do we accept what we expect or is there another way?

The last few days have seen some terrible things happen in various places around the world and many words written and spoken in response. Words of grief, words of fear, words asking questions, words expressing unease. I have hesitated to add my words for two reasons. The first is that I’m not sure I have much new to say. The second is that I worry that by saying something, assumptions will be made about all the things I leave unsaid.

But I called this blog “thinking  out loud” because for me it is often in sharing my questions that I begin to discover answers (or more questions!) So what I add here are not my first thoughts nor my final thoughts, not my only thoughts nor my complete thoughts. Just something I’m still working through and out …

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are some of the tragic events of the last month or so.

  • On October 5, 57 people were killed when a car bomb went off outside their local market.
  • On October 10, 102 people were killed as they attended a rally for peace in their capital city.
  • On October 14, 42 people were killed when suicide bombers entered their place of worship, and on October 23, another 27 were killed in similar circumstances in the same country.
  • On October 31, 224 people were killed when their aeroplane was brought down by an act of terrorism.
  • On November 12, 43 people were killed when suicide bombers detonated explosives in a suburban neighbourhood.
  • On November 13, over 129 people were killed due to a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in cafes and clubs.

By not including the places where these tragic events happened, they all sound the same. And on very many levels they are the same. All were acts of terrorism that resulted in the deaths of innocent people going about their daily lives. But in one important way, they are not the same at all.

One of the questions that is being asked is why only the last of these has generated wall to wall news coverage, the use of lights and flags on iconic buildings around the world as signs of solidarity, and statements of sympathy and determination to avenge by numerous western world leaders including the US President and the Australian Prime Minister.

I’m not sure there is a simple answer. I know there is no comfortable answer. Because for me, the question has to be personal. I could blame the media for making more of some things and not telling me about others, but I’m pretty sure their reasons are not that different from my own. Why did I have a stronger reaction to one event than I did to the others?

First, if I’m honest, there is the “it could have been me” factor. A place that I have recently been to, a place I am familiar with, a place that feels similar to where I live, people whom I somehow see as more “like” me… this is easier for me to sympathise with. I wish that was not true, but it is. I want to keep working hard to try to overcome that natural tendency I see within me. I need you to help me with this.

But the second thought I have had is about expectations. Are there some places in the world where these events feel unexpected to me? And therefore some where subconsciously they are, in contrast, “expected”? Have I somehow in my mind divided up the world into places where I think “this kind of thing happens” and places where I think it doesn’t?

And here’s the question that really horrifies me.

If there are places where I think these events are to be expected, does that lead me to assume that there are places where these events are to be accepted?

I hope not, but I fear if I’m not careful that may be my subconscious attitude. And I wonder what the alternative is.

Is it our level of expectation or our level or acceptance that needs to change? As a follower of Jesus,  I think, perhaps seemingly contradictorily, the answer is both. And that somehow, it is in living in the tension that expects evil and yet does not accept it, that hope is found.

Jesus teaches me that evil and the resultant suffering are to be expected everywhere. We live in a broken and hurting world and even the places we like to pretend are in some kind of protective, prosperous bubble are in reality fragile and vulnerable to the power of sin and darkness.

At the same time, Jesus calls me to act and speak out in a way that does not just accept evil and its resultant suffering anywhere. That works to overcome and respond with compassion and love to all people in all places so that His light might be seen where it is desperately needed … which is everywhere.

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