Originally posted as a guest post on Andrew Voigt’s blog
Unmet expectations are at the core of our frustrations. If you are anything like me, I’m sure you have a list of standards and expectations that you expect to live out and accomplish. What if I were to tell you that the standards and expectations you and I set for ourselves will never be lived up to?
A great question you and I can ask: What are some standards and expectations that I set for myself that I need to let go? (Consider writing each of them down in a journal).
The year was 2010. Two people that I deeply trusted hurt me. These two people were some of my closest friends. Not only did I share my life with them, but we all shared life experiences together. After selfish decisions, manipulation, lying, not holding on to friendship, and practicing good ethics, we all fell out. In other words, trust was broken, which left me broken. I remember saying to myself, “I don’t think I will ever be able to trust people again.”
“We must realize that God is able to bring about whatever circumstances are necessary to cause us to stop trusting in ourselves.” – Robert McGee
Then came the list; A list of standards I created for the people that were in my life and for every new person that entered into my life. Why did I create this list? To be honest, the list was a protector. The list was a defense mechanism to say, I am not going to allow myself to get hurt again. So, I made a vow to protect my heart at all cost.
What vows have you made?
Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. She doesn’t have a name. She is a Samaritan also known as a half-breed. (This is what many of my friends called me growing up) Because of her ethnicity, she is comprised of two distinct ethnic groups (Jew and Gentile). She has a background of having 5 different husbands. The man she is with right now happens to be someone that she probably doesn’t trust, but because of life’s circumstances, she allows herself to live lower than her standards.
This woman finds herself on a hot day walking to a well with a heavy water pot to draw water. In her culture, a woman typically drew water early in the morning while the sun wasn’t so hot. It seems to me that she is drawing water during this time to avoid people. Perhaps she wants to avoid having conversations. Maybe she has created a list of standards to keep people out because of shame and guilt.
Have you been there before?
Are you there now?
What do you do when you find yourself living from your hurts?
When the woman arrives at the well, she notices that she is not alone. There is a Jewish man there hanging out and resting. This man and the woman strike up a conversation. The woman quickly realizes that this is a conversation unlike any other conversation she’s ever had; that this man is unlike any other man she’s ever met. I mean she has been around quite a few men, and from the looks of it, those relationships did not end well.
Before I go into more detail about this conversation, let me give you some more cultural context because it could be easy for us, as the reader to judge her. Perhaps, you have felt misjudged because your past.
In this day and culture, a husband had the right to divorce their wife over the smallest thing. Women in this day had no voice, authority or power. They could not talk to men in public. They could not speak to people of Jewish descent, even though half of their ethnicity was Jewish. Jews would view a Samaritan, someone of this woman’s culture as dogs. A woman’s only place where she would be given a place to flourish was in the kitchen and on a separate floor in the synagogue to worship. Can you see why a woman would want to create a list of standards?
Side note: Life experiences, relationships, and circumstances can damage us to where we find ourselves no longer trusting in the God of love. But I have good news for you: God shows up when we least expect it!
Now back to our conversation with the woman and this man at the well. This woman has been through a lot. She finds herself in a place where skepticism and trust are not easy to come by. However, the genuineness and grace of the man towards her allow for her to lean in and believe in the words He is sharing. Little did she know that one conversation with this man would change the trajectory of her life.
In this conversation, she begins to share that one day the Messiah is going to come and that He would lead people to understand truths about how to live a life of worship. So, she saw that He was a prophet, Rabbi and a teacher.
At the end of their conversation, He reveals that He is the Messiah. Not only does she believe Him, but she also gets up and sprints back into town. She tells her whole town that she met a man that told her everything about her and about everything she has ever done. In this culture, many people wouldn’t believe her report let alone follow her. (This how we know the Gospel is true).
Here’s the good news: When God’s hand is on you, His purpose will work through you! Because of her faithfulness to share her experience with the Messiah, her whole neighborhood came to know Christ!
The best part of this story is the original reason she came to the well, which was to get water. After this lively conversation, she leaves never to thirst again. She finds herself letting go of her list of unmet expectations.
An unmet expectation turned into a life-changing meeting with the One who redeems our past, hurts, and brokenness. (Tweet that!)
Here are a few things to remember:
• You are not defined by your past.
• God never wastes an experience.
• You have a new identity in Christ.
• One encounter with Jesus changes everything.
• Your experiences may seem like destruction, but with Jesus, your experiences can actually lead you to your destiny.
For this week, take 5-10 minutes a day to read through John 4:1-42 and practice SOAP:
S – Scripture (Read the text)
O – Observation (Observe what is happening)
A – Application (How does God want to apply what you read to your life)
P – Prayer (Spend time listening and praying)
Pray this prayer: Father, thank You for this opportunity to learn more about Your truth. Thank You for allowing us to see Your grace in action. Thank You for reminding us that Your plan supersedes ours and the hard experiences that we go through can lead us to live a life that impacts others for the Kingdom. Help us to remember our story and the beautiful grace that You have in store for us all as we continually depend on you.
Consider writing this down in a journal and sharing on social media: When you set your eyes and heart on God, He will lead you on the path and say to you, “this is the way to go!”