The Weight of Expectation

In my quest to look cooler by virtue of association, I’m bringing you a guest post from the coolest kid I know: Tony Alicea. When I was bummed because I felt like I was talking to myself over here at MessiahMom, Tony encouraged me. That’s Tony, an encourager. He’s got a great site, Expect the Exceptional. I want you to visit, and would love for you to encourage the heck out of him here in the comments. If you don’t have time to devour his online body of work, read his testimony, here and follow him on Twitter, here.

One of my favorite movies of all time is 500 Days of Summer. It’s the story of a boy who meets a girl who he thinks is the woman of his dreams. The film documents the 500 days of their relationship in a unique style, by skipping backwards and forward through the days. Many people I’ve asked say that they don’t like the movie because you do not get the ending you expect between the two main characters. However, you are warned by the narrator at the very beginning of the movie when he says, “This is not a love story.”

One of the most poignant scenes is one where after they had been broken up for awhile, he reaches out to her and she invites him to a party at her house. The film goes into a split-scene as the events unfold. One one side we see the expectation in his mind of how the night would play out. On the other side we see the reality of the situation. It’s pretty heart wrenching. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I think I love it so much because I can completely relate to what he is feeling.

It helped me realize how we create a huge burden when we set expectations in relationships. Many times we do it unwillingly and in the process, never communicate those expectations to the other person. When they do not live up to our expectation, we are left with one of the most damaging emotions in a relationship:disappointment.

This has happened to me countless times, not just in romantic relationships, but also in my relationship with the Lord. I think to myself, “God, you say you are good so I’m expecting you to work out this situation in my life in this way.” When that doesn’t happen, I become disappointed and even disillusioned with the goodness of God.

Expectation is like giving someone a backpack of bricks that they never asked to carry. Expectations are almost always selfish and self-seeking. There is no hope in expectations. Expectations are demands.

“we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” Romans 5:3-5


Hope does not put us to shame. Another translation says hope does not disappoint. This is a completely different mindset, which I call “Expectancy”. Expectancy doesn’t expect perfection or that everything will work out exactly as planned. Expectancy is a hopeful optimism. Expectancy is trust. Expectancy is faith.

A friend of mine came up with this acrostic for hope. H.oly O.ptimism P.roducing E.xpectancy. I love that!

I want to live a life of expectancy where I believe that things will work out for the best. I want to live with birds-eye perspective where I can see the forest, not the trees. I don’t want to put any heavy burdens on any of my relationships.

500 Days of Summer ends with beautiful redemption. Even though it wasn’t the ending that was expected, I believe it was better than he could have imagined. If we persevere, I believe God will bring us not the ending we expect but the ending that is immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.

Regardless of what you’ve been through in past seasons of life and relationships, if you live with expectancy…Autumn will come.


44 responses to “The Weight of Expectation

  1. Pingback: The Weight of Expectation | Expect The Exceptional

  2. You are the best Kristin! Thanks for the opportunity to share today. I’ve been excited about this for awhile! 🙂

  3. Tony this is so good. This really echoes what my story has been for a few years. But autumn is coming now.

  4. Good stuff Tony, sometimes it’s difficult to see our situations from a Birds Eye View but if we take a step back from our emotions and expectations, we can ultimately see the bigger picture. His view and plan for our lives, which is always perfect and like you said: immeasurably better than what we can ever plan.

    • Hindsight is 20/20. Even if I can’t see the whole picture while I’m going through it, I can trust that God is working it out for my good and more importantly, His glory.

  5. Wow Tony, great stuff and advice. Live with expectancy. Love it!

  6. Good stuff here Tony. Having a background of failed expectations, it’s a great thing to know that in Christ, we have a God who does not fail in His plans towards us… this gives me Hope, which does NOT disappoint.

    • I can relate man. Unmet expectations are killer. I have suffered tons of heart break because of it. Almost always though, I never told the other person about my expectations. I “expected” them to know.

      I’m so thankful that hope in the Lord will never put us to shame.

  7. As always, Tony, this is fantastic! I have not seen the movie yet, but after reading this, I look forward to it. I agree with you that expectations produce problems in relationships, especially if they are not discussed and if they are unrealistic. I think that’s where most of us go wrong in all our relationships; we expect…But living with Expectancy is something different and such a great way to look at it!

    • I now want to see it too. I like movies that experiment with non-linear timing, but, more than that, I want to know what Tony’s talking about 🙂

    • If your favorite movies consist of “The Proposal” or other completely unrealistic love stories, then I highly suggest you stay away from this one. It’s definitely not one of those fairy tale romance stories. If you want real, watch this movie. It hurts but it’s truth and truth done cleverly and honestly. It’s was also unexpectedly hilarious at points.

      Definitely in my top 5 movies. It’s that good. It doesn’t hurt that I have an uber-crush on Zooey Deschanel! 🙂

  8. Great post Tony! I’ve done the same thing in my past relationships – both romantic and even just friendship – put high expectations on the other person they weren’t able to fulfill. I’ve even done it with God – expecting Him to do something that He didn’t, and becoming disillusioned with Him because of it.

    Great reminder of what it means to be in a healthy relationship and to expect the best.

    • Absolutely. I’ve done it and had it done to me. I’m a pretty reliable guy and people get used to it. But I make mistakes too. Unfortunately, if people build up these expectations for me and I fall short…I feel their disappointment and I then have to carry it. It’s not a fun thing on top of already feeling bad for missing the mark.

  9. “Expectation is like giving someone a backpack of bricks that they never asked to carry”

    That’s a great quote dude (and you know I love quotes!)…

  10. For so many reasons…I LOVE this. 🙂 Excellent post, Tony!!

    I’ve only seen 500 days of Summer once. I remember at one point in the movie feeling so sad and wishing that things were different. I obviously didn’t know the ending, but if the movie had paused at that point and given me a choice…I would have chosen for the ending I felt made sense to me at the time given the limited information that I had. After I watched the whole movie, I understood why things got a little dicey in the middle. I thought back to all the times I felt like he did and I thanked God that He didn’t answer my prayers back then.

    When I felt that God wasn’t answering my prayers, I got frustrated and felt like He wasn’t there. But what He is really doing is answering the prayer at the core of it all. The prayer that I don’t know how to express, but that the Spirit prays in intercession on my behalf. He does all this in His timing, which is perfect. The answer to that prayer may look completely different than what I “expected”, but if it comes from Him, it will be immeasurably more than what I could have asked for or imagined. When Autumn comes, it won’t be like a backpack full of bricks, where you wonder, worry, stress, and strain. It will be like….she’s your lobster!!! 🙂

  11. “Autumn will come.” I have said the same thing in different ways to scores of people through the years and I expect to keep doing so. We get bogged down and have difficulty seeing the bigger picture.

  12. Wow! Excellent article and great conversation within the comments as well. Tony, excellent usage of words and imagery! I’m following you on Twitter – @ArthurAuthor .

  13. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Weight of Expectation | Messiah Mom --

  14. Great post! I really enjoyed that movie too, although I had forgotten all about it. I’ve lately been examining some of the expectations I have set in various aspects of my life. So thanks for this. it was thought provoking and timely (for me). God bless!

  15. I loved that movie simply for the Hall and Oats music medley sing-a-long in the middle. 🙂

    Tony, these are some really great thoughts. So often I look at the beginning, middle or even the possible-end of a situation and judge. I judge my actions, my responses, or even my potential reactions to things. Ha, not sure if I’m even making sense right now… but in the end I want to remember that my hope is in Christ, who never fails to exceed my expectations.

  16. I haven’t seen this movie, but it sounds interesting. I loved Inception, so if it’s anything like that (the type of movie), I think I’d like this one. Great post! I think I expect too much from my relationship with God, and I do get disappointed. I guess I’m like that in other types of relationships too, though not always. Something more for me to work on :o). Thanks for making me think!

  17. Ok. Ton of bricks. When I read posts like this and the Holy Spirit happens to be pressing in full court, I feel like I’ve only known God for week. I am so refreshed reading this and knowing God cares enough to break through and say “this is just for you, Toni.” Listen in. Thanks for posting, Tony!

  18. Tony, dude, this may be my favorite post you’ve written. Partially because I love “500 Days of Summer.” You know how there is usually 1 or 2 films you keep on your iPhone/iPod that you’ve seen over and over again but keep it on there because it’s one of your favorites? Well, “500 Days” is one of mine. I can relate as well. I’ve been there and I know the exact scene you mean.

    I think often times our “split screen” with life happens when one side shows what we want – our rise to the top of our career (instantly, of course), the perfect soul mate, the perfect kids, the perfect income, etc. And in the split-screen reality (at least if we’re open-minded to God’s plan), we often stumble, fall backward, have to endure different ups and downs at work, have to endure relationships that aren’t always easy (even if they’re the RIGHT relationships). All the while, through our stumbles, however, God is using these realities to show us truths about ourselves, about the world, and a whole lot about who He is.

    Fantastic post my friend! Have a great day!

  19. Expectation is the path to disappointment and failure, expect nothing and be thankful for every bit you get. Through gratefulness shall we keep receiving.

    Thanks for a great work, truly inspirational, the timing could not have been any better. I will be sure to watch the movie.

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