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Letting Go of Expectations

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Letting Go of Expectations @ AVirtuousWoman.org

This post is the last post in the Letting Go Series.

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Letting Go of Expectations

Life is a series of choices. Each day we wake up and choose to do what we do. Okay, so sometimes not everything that happens is within our ability to choose. No one chooses to have a flat tire or an overflowed toilet.

For a long time I was frustrated – and I’m not sure frustrated is a strong enough word – that my life was out of my control. It often seems like our family – because of extenuating circumstances beyond our control – moves from crisis to crisis. It’s one thing after another, after another.

We have a large extended family who often need my help or my husband’s help. And when I say often – I’m talking on a near daily basis. My husband and I are stable and able to take care of ourselves and others. We have family members who have struggled financially, who aren’t able to drive, who have major health problems, and more. And everyone of them 14 people to be exact} relies on us for something – and all those somethings require the one thing that is most important – our time.

Up until last year my husband and I were the sole caretakers for his 88 year old MIL, his 88 year old step father, his 87 year old Uncle, and his 61 year old brother who was terminally and mentally ill. Not one of these precious people could drive a car and everyone of them had doctor’s appointments – often two hours away on almost a weekly basis.

And every time Uncle Kenneth is home alone I would have to go and sit with him – 2 to 3 times a week for anywhere between 4 – 8 hours a day because he can’t be left alone.

Add on top of that two grown and married kids who live close to us who have struggled to  make ends meet and only have one car each. I am often responsible for driving the wives to doctor’s appointments or helping with other needs including babysitting grand kids a few times a week.

Add on top of that, the crisis after crisis that some unnamed family members have gone through – sometimes because of just plain bad luck and other times because of just poor choices – which required either my husband or I to help in some way – sometimes on a weekly basis.

Add on top of that the three churches my husband pastors… and the fact that I am a homeschooling mom with three horses, three dogs, and two cats {and numerous other animals over the years}. Add onto all of that – I’m responsible for maintaining the household chores, laundry, cooking, and day to day cleaning.

And then there’s A Virtuous Woman which I’ve been running since 2001 – that alone is just about a full time job!

Not to mention the fact that all of the holidays and any other special occasion is held at my house… and I cook for 20 family members on a regular basis.

I don’t think any of that description of my life really does it justice! I’m telling you – I’ve been exhausted caring for so many people for so many years with no real relief in sight.

Mykal’s brother died two years ago. And last year his step father passed away. Things changed a little since then. I no longer have to take care of his brother Steve’s medication daily. And Mykal no longer has to drive the two of them to doctor’s appointments each week among other things – and we think about them everyday. We miss them! But we are still soooo busy caring for everyone else.

So… maybe you’re wondering where I’m going with all of this.

About a year ago I began telling people I could no longer do certain things. And I’ve learned to say no to a lot. Not because I don’t want to help or that I don’t care – but my plate has been too full for too long. I went through some serious burn out. And I lost my joy.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s important when everything seems important.

[Tweet “Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s important when everything seems important. “]

One day last summer I got out my journal and I wrote down a list of boundaries. It was a detailed list. By writing that list I learned what was important to me and where I drew the line. You see, sometimes because I’m nice and I love people – I allow them to take advantage of me. It was a real problem.

I read an article last summer that changed my life. I can’t remember now where, but it said something to this effect:

People take advantage of us when we fail to tell the truth in love.

So for instance, maybe someone would ask me to do something, but I honestly did not have time, but because I’m nice and because I love these people, I would panic in my head, put a smile on my face, and agree.

What I should have done was lovingly explain that I honestly did not have time in my already overflowing schedule. Because by doing more and more and more – I just felt more stress and more unhappiness.

[Tweet “People take advantage of us when we fail to tell the truth in love. “]

So, back to my point: Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s important when everything seems important.

So I had to make some decisions – what was really important to me. What was it God wanted me to do with my time?

I decided that my home, my husband, and my children were my top priorities. Everything else was secondary.

Now obviously, I still have a 89 year old MIL who has not been doing well at all over the last few months. I still have my husband’s uncle who needs care and I have to cook for everyday. And I still have grand kids who I have to babysit several times a week all day long so their parents can make some money – and they cannot afford a babysitter.

I still have kids I have to homeschool and a house I have to take care of. And really a million other things that come up on a weekly basis that need my attention.

But I say no when I need to. To whatever needs come up.

I give myself permission to have days where I do nothing more than snuggle in the bed with my kids or read a book when I feel I need rest. And I don’t feel guilty for resting.

And probably the biggest relief to me has been that I let go of my expectations. One of my biggest – and I mean this was HUGE – frustrations was that I homeschool and there was so much chaos – that I did not create – from other family members pulling on my time – that the last several years I could not have my kids on a schedule for school and we couldn’t get into a good routine.

I like routine. I really, really, like routine. It helps me plan and organize my day.

So, we would do school whenever we could find time during the day – often in the evenings. And it drove me crazy because in my mind that’s not what our homeschool {our life} was supposed to look like.

I wanted the perfect life and none of this stuff that was beyond my control fit into that ideal image.

[Tweet “Since I let go of my expectations – I’ve learned to live. Live fully in the moment.”]

Since I let go of my expectations – I’ve learned to live. Live fully in the moment. Embracing imperfection. Finding joy in the moment instead of the culminations of days, weeks, months, and years. I’ve been set free.

I’ve let go of the stress. Really, I’ve stopped trying to control things. I don’t stress over when we do school. We get it done – just not in a traditional way. I don’t stress over the house cleaning schedule because it eventually gets done – just to need doing again tomorrow. I don’t stress over grumpy days. I don’t stress over busy days.

At least most of the time.

I only have this one life. ONE LIFE. I don’t get a do over! So it’s my choice to live THIS LIFE full of joy in the moment.

Do you need to let go of expectations?

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2 Comments

  1. It has been labeled that "Crunch" time of one's life when one is caught between feeling the ebb and flow of quality time with ones fast growing children rushing by as one is caught up in being a Care Giver to older parents or other relatives in need while still meeting obligations to work and home life. And it is aptly named! And your advice to prayerfully set boundries and goals is wonderful!
    1. Cairn, thank you for visiting with me today. I agree... totally! It's certainly not easy. I've learned the hard way to set boundaries. I hope others can learn from my mistakes! God bless you!

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