Last Sunday Pastor Paul talked about expectations, and at the end he left us with these two words: “I Expect … “
Dictionary defines ‘expectation’ as “a strong belief that something will happen …”
What is expectation? It is something you want and hope to get or happen. In fact, it’s more than hope. It’s a belief of almost certainty that it will happen, but not enough certainty to be a knowing. It’s an optimistic longing, waiting with eagerness or anxiousness, that the thing you desire will happen, that you may even have planned for other things and actions to follow. It’s a healthy attitude, positive longing, and hoping that given just enough time, the thing will happen, that you will get what you want.
We say pregnant women are expectant because we know, in all likelihood, that after about 9 months, they will give birth to their babies. It’s very likely, albeit not guaranteed, that their babies will be born after that period of time. It is a happy waiting. It’s something that they want to do, and given enough time and efforts, it will happen.
Expectation is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. Because you expect something to happen, and you know that if you keep on doing what you should be doing, then the expectation will likely happen. Expectation usually does not have a precise timeline. Pregnancy is usually 9 months but it’s not always 9 months; it can vary by a few weeks or more. But you have to keep going, or else it will not happen. So you keep trying–one more time, one more day–thinking and hoping that you are just that close to getting it. If you stop, if you give up, then goes the hope too. But you believe that it will happen, you want it to happen, you expect it to happen, so you keep going, and eventually, after much efforts, it happens, and your expectation is fulfilled.
Your expectation also influences others. Experiments have been performed to demonstrate that researchers’ expectations can influence the outcomes of their experiments. Lab rats labeled as “maze bright” navigated mazes much better than other identical rats. Similarly, teachers’ expectations on their students directly affect their students’ performance in class. In the classic Rosenthal’s experiments on Expectancy Effects, 20% of students were randomly picked in an otherwise identical group of students to be called “ready to bloom” and their names given to the 18 teachers responsible for teaching all the students together. Because the teachers (and only the teachers) knew the names of these potential high achievers, their expectations of them somehow resulted in these students significantly outperforming the other 80% at the end of the school year. It could very well be the case that since the teachers expected these blooming students to perform well, the teachers encouraged them to do more, to try more, to give it one more shot, and the students in turn fulfilled their teachers’ expectations. Meanwhile, because the other 80% were just ordinary normal students, the teachers did not expect much from them, and did not encourage them to do more, just enough to get by, and sure enough, the students did not perform nearly as well, even though the students were otherwise the same as the other 20% in terms of their IQ and other circumstances. The 80% were capable of performing equally well than the make-believe 20% high achievers, but they did not have the reasons to, because their teachers did to expect them to, and they did not expect themselves to. Truly self-fulfilling prophecy in action.
Expectation can also work against you. If you expect to lose, to not get something, to have bad things happen to you, you might just get them too. It is the other side of the same self-fulfilling prophecy coin. Earl Nightingale’s famous The Strangest Secret is “We become what we think about.” He was talking about expectations, and that expectations turn into a kind of constant internal self-talk, which propels us to go towards the direction of your expectations. If you expect to lose, you will not even try, and sure enough, your chance of losing just becomes 100%. If you expect to win, you will practice, you will get help, you will work hard, and sure enough, as you improve, your odds of winning also improves.
Thoughts have power. They “tune” your brain to the frequency where you can broadcast your wants to the universe (or God) to attract those things that you want to happen in your life. However, thoughts also work to attract those things that you don’t want if you dwell on the unwanted things constantly. Whatever you are thinking will materialize. “We become what we think about.” Your thoughts keep you in the condition whereby you will continue to have those thoughts. You are thinking “I’m fat,” and this thought of “being fat” will continue to keep you in a state of “being fat” so that you can continue to think that “I’m fat.” In order to get out of this condition, you need to “change your thought frequency” by having a different set of thoughts, a different set of “expectations,” a different prayer.
Expectation is also to have faith. Because it’s something that is not guaranteed, so you are going on a limp so to speak, hoping that your efforts will pay off. Faith is to believe in something that you have not seen, that isn’t proven. However, sometimes “you’ll see it when you believe it,” instead of the usual “you’ll believe it when you see it.” The other day I was sitting in a courtyard enjoying the afternoon while my family were shopping. Suddenly I saw birds flying and ants crawling around us. It caught me by a small surprise because I did not notice them before, and when I started noticing them, they were all around us, so plentiful! I just never paid attention to them, so to me they did not exist in my field of attention, but they were always there. Maybe if you start to expect, then what you expect will appear suddenly, because they may have always been there, you just never take the time to pay attention to them. People these days are so busy from work, from their smart phones, that their attention is captured by these constant streams of notifications that they simply do not have any time left to attend to those things that have always been here, silently, waiting to be discovered, to be noticed. It’s like love. It’s here, but we are too busy chasing money and fame and other satisfactions that we forget to love, to be loved, as if love does not exist.
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. Psalms 62:5 (NKJV)”
Expectation is a driving force of human progress. Instincts and reflexes keep us alive, but expectations drive our progress and improvements, individually, and as a human race. Expectations give us hope, bind us together to look for something better, to keep going, even when we can’t see the destination, yet. I expect to have a better day. I expect my children to have a better life. I expect to be successful. I expect …
So what do you expect? GO GET IT.