Over the last several years of my life, there has been a constant theme of unmet expectations. This theme started in college as I ventured into a new season that I thought would be the best years of my life. I expected all of my college dreams to come true in finding the perfect friends, having the most fun, and living the “college dream” that I’ve seen and heard about from friends and social media. When I arrived, these dreams were quickly shattered as I realized the difficulty in sharing a room, building an authentic community, and balancing life as a full-time student. The unmet expectations of these things led to disappointment and confusion, leaving me wondering how to live in the failed plans and desires.
We often want what isn’t reality. Our human nature desires things to look a certain way, often without God’s invitation to lead. Through my struggle with my roommate and my academics, I can look back on those years of unmet expectations and see God’s kindness and intentionality. I understand that my desires were often not what God planned but that He met me in the disappointment and used those experiences for another purpose. I see that despite the disappointment that came whenever I felt let down, God was working all of those things together for my good, because He is a good Father and loves me. When I consider my college experience and other disappointments along the way, I am reminded of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. I see how He has led me into greener pastures of grace and goodness.
Because of who God is, we can expect God in the unexpected. We can trust that God will meet us in the hurt and turn it around for His glory. We can trust that He has already gone before us in restoring what is broken and has a future for us better than anything we could dream for ourselves. We should look for Him in the dark places of shattered expectations, failed relationships, or disappointing seasons. In those times, we can trust that our loving Father is paving a new way for us and writing a new story—a story where He is leading the way.
Living in these truths starts with realizing that the Christian life isn’t about living up to the expectations we have for ourselves or others. It’s about trusting God to do what He is best at, which is being God. Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Because God holds all things together and goes before us, we can rest from the disappointment of unmet expectations. God is working in our hurt and knows what is best for us. His desire is for us to trust in that.
Looking back on each season of life, I see how God moved through my unmet expectations. He taught me valuable lessons of patience, kindness, and grace that I otherwise wouldn’t have learned. I see how God protected me from the hurt that I would’ve walked into had He not kindly pointed me down the path that He had for me. I see that when things are not as we expected, we can expect God to be there. This is good news for us today.