How to Handle a Plate of Trash (and BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!)
One unrealistic expectation can ignite a hundred unhealthy emotions. I know. I’ve lived it. Likely, so have you.
Today two of my favorite author/speaker friends, (seriously, they’re great gals!) Amy Carroll and Cheri Gregory, share their insights into the issue of expectations. As an added bonus, they are giving away a FREE copy of their new book, Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well. Just leave a comment to be entered to win!
How to Handle a Plate of Trash
by Amy Carroll
Women have all kinds of expectations handed to us. There are neighbors who want to borrow our tools and churches that ask for volunteers. There are kids who need a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, parents who require our care, and a husband who craves some lovin’. The list of expectations is endless, but being all things to all people is not only exhausting, it’s downright impossible!
Some things are definitely ours to do, and not every duty is a delight. But how do we weed out the appropriate expectations from the inappropriate ones? How do we determine what’s ours and what’s someone else’s to handle?
My friend Amber had a difficult relationship with a relative. As she was navigating the deep waters of improving that relationship, Amber had a realization in the form of a funny word picture.
“Sometimes my relative hands me a plate of trash,” Amber told me. “My whole life I’ve accepted the plate she’s handed to me as if I now actually own it, saying, ‘Of course I’ll take your trash. Thank you for this plate of trash!’”
Things have changed, though. Amber’s found a way to better manage the relationship when inappropriate expectations, aka “plates of trash,” like emotional baggage, unreasonable demands on her schedule, or extra duties are handed to her.
“Now, I lovingly hand the plate back,” Amber explained, “and sweetly say, ‘Oh. You handed this to me, but it’s not mine. This is your trash to hold or throw away.’”
The picture Amber painted made me laugh, but it’s a perfect picture to help us. It’s all a matter of evaluating expectations.
There’s no other person in history who has had more expectations flung at Him than Jesus. He’s the Messiah, after all.
But Jesus handled what others expected of Him with a firm grace. In Luke 7:20, Jesus’s cousin, John the Baptist, sent a question to Jesus through two of his disciples: “Are you’re the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
What a stunning question from the one who had paved the way for Jesus and baptized Him in the Jordan with God the Father and the Spirit attending! Where in the world did John’s question come from? It seems that his time in prison may have caused natural doubt or disappointment.
Maybe John started looking for someone else because he was expecting something else.
Even so, Jesus didn’t react to unreasonable expectations the way I’ve reacted. He wasn’t angry and defensive, nor did He acquiesce, trying to fulfill someone else’s agenda.
Instead of shifting His calling, Jesus gently helped John to shift his expectations. Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Luke 7:22).
Jesus was crystal clear about His calling, and He was immovable. Gently, He listed the proofs of His ministry to remind John of The Goal. Then Jesus unapologetically called John to come into alignment. “Blessed is anyone who does not fall away on account of me” (Luke 7:23 NLT).
Without detouring to pursue John with promises of change or to create a clever new plan, Jesus held His course.
Just think. It might have made John happy for a moment for Jesus to act more “Messiah-ish,” but following John’s plans would have kept Jesus from fulfilling His mission, ultimately leaving John without a Savior.
Jesus didn’t accept every “plate” that was handed to Him. If the assignment matched His calling and what the Father had spoken to Him, then He accepted it. If the expectation didn’t fit, He gently rejected it, reminded people of His calling, and continued doing what He was destined to do.
Jesus’s example has given me three questions to help determine whether someone’s expectation of me is appropriate or a “plate of trash”:
- Does this fit with what God has called me to do?
- Will I have to discard some of the activities I’ve already assessed and committed to do?
- Will agreeing to this project set a precedent for more unsolicited assignments in the future?
In our journey to lose who we’re not, we have to jettison all people-pleasing that supersedes our desire to please God. If I get down-and-dirty honest, the unbalanced desire to please others is what causes the crushing weight of inappropriate expectations.
Instead, we can live the way Jesus showed us, assessing expectations according to God’s mission for us.
Want a chance to win a copy of Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well? Simply leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen!
This post is adapted from Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well, a book for women suffocating under the pressure to be all things to all people. Coauthors Amy Carroll and Cheri Gregory are convinced that by investing our lives in soul-satisfying ways—glorifying God, serving our people and fulfilling us– we can move from running-on-empty to spent-and-content. For more information and free resources, visit exhalebook.com. You can also listen to their Grit ‘n’ Grace podcast at gritngracegirls.com.
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