“Expectations will steal the gifts that are sitting right there in front of you.” Jada Pinkett Smith
This deeply personal story could help every relationship you have…
I am witnessing my mother as she moves through the disease of Alzheimer’s. She struggles to complete sentences and yet she’s still able to get her point across. She can’t follow a storyline on a TV show or in a book, but she’s very much present in the moment and enjoying herself being entertained. She often repeats herself, but nothing ever goes unsaid.
My mother is at a place now where she rarely knows my name or maybe even who I am in relationship to her, but there is a very real comfort that exists between us. It’s gentle, loving and accepting.
Creating an expectation in our minds about the people in our lives – how they should be or how they shouldn’t be – can rob us of the blessing of who they actually are.
For instance, if I see my Mother as sick, I cannot see all the wellness she’s now able to express and experience – things like calm, presence, even childlike joy at times.
If I view her through the lens that something has gone terribly wrong, I am unable to see all that is right – like her newfound ability to express love, emotion and affection.
If I insist on mourning the loss of who she once was, I would be missing the blessing of who she is right now, moment to moment.
And the same holds true in our marriages (and frankly all of our relationships).
My husband should communicate more…
My wife shouldn’t worry so much…
He should appreciate me…
If we see our spouse as the person who is consistently not doing what we want them to do – falling short of our expectations – we cannot see all that they ARE doing.
If we focus on what’s wrong, we cannot see what’s right.
And if we can’t see past the picture we’ve created in our minds of who we think they should be, we will never experience who they truly are…
I make the conscious choice to see my Mother as she is today and to experience the beauty of who she’s becoming (because like all of us, she’s still becoming). That might sound difficult to do in the midst of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but it’s actually so much easier than fighting against reality. And it is my deep belief that the love, acceptance and peace I feel and bring to our relationship helps provide her comfort in the midst of confusion.
Over the holidays, let’s make a conscious effort to look for the opportunities to see past our own expectations of people and instead, become genuinely curious about who they actually are. We might like what we find.