Expectations, Gratitude

Gratitude: When There Are Expectations

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

These weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (for those of us in the United States) are a great time to consider gratitude. In these shorter posts, let’s explore some different quotes about gratitude and see how we can prepare our hearts for the coming holiday season.


“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly.” ~Tony Robbins, Author

God has been talking with me about expectations. Honestly? He’s been talking to me for years, but it’s only as I age that I see the impact that holding tightly to expectations has on my heart.


When I expect things, part of me is waiting for someone to break their word, not follow through with something, or to not live up to what I had hoped would happen. I’m waiting to be disappointed.

Expectations often leave us disillusioned. 

I don’t know about you, but when I hold to expectations about something, I have a clear vision in my mind for how something is going to play out. When reality doesn’t match my mind’s vision, I sometimes end up feeling disappointed. Too often, I am relying on someone else to live up to what I envision.

I recently read this thought by Mary DeMuth, and the words resonated: “Because when I live mired in the disappointment of unmet expectations, I stop living in expectation of what God has for me.”

What if, instead of waiting for someone to fail to meet my expectations, I choose to be grateful they’ve helped me at all? They have given me anything at all? 

What if I choose to be thankful to them for the effort they’ve put forth on my behalf?

What if, instead of holding myself to unreasonably high expectations (translated: perfection), I give grace? What if I thank God for the ways He’s met my needs? He knows what I need. He knows the best ways to meet them.

When I hold expectations, I will be irritated or disappointed when He (or anyone else) doesn’t meet them.

When I shift my perspective and am grateful for what is given? That’s when my heart changes.

When I drop expectations of others, of God, and even of myself, I enjoy life more.

Letting go of expectations opens my heart to see God working in fresh ways.

What about you? How do you manage your expectations? How do you choose gratitude?

Click to tweet: Expectations often leave us disillusioned.

This week, I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth


36 thoughts on “Gratitude: When There Are Expectations”

  1. I love the quote and I agree, expectations can so often lead to disappointment. It makes a big difference when we let go and choose gratitude instead, and this has brought to mind a situation where I need to do that.
    PS- I’m showing my gratitude for some of my fellow-bloggers this week and I have nominated you for a blogger award! Details are in my post if you want to take part, but there’s absolutely no pressure- I just wanted to show my appreciation!


    1. Lesley, I love how God uses the words of others to speak truth into our hearts. 🙂 He’s used your words to make me stop and ponder more than once.

      Thanks so much for the nomination! I’m truly blessed. I’ll pray about participating. I hope your week is off to a great start!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! It’s so important to recognize gratitude as more than a cliche, pie in the sky idea. It is a tool, a weapon almost, against all the unmet expectations, fear, disappointment, so many things. Grateful for your encouragement today!


  3. This is great Jeanne. There have been many times when I’ve let my expectations for what could be interfere with my gratitude for what is. I find that I’m truly grateful when following the example of Jesus…just wish I would be more consistent there.


    1. Gene, I’m in that boat too. Too many times I’ve lost sight of the blessings of what is because I wanted/expected something different. Your last words are so good. When we follow Jesus’ example, we are open to gratitude. There’s my challenge for the day . . . week . . . year. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Expectations followed by disappointment … now that’s a trend I’m familiar with, Jeanne. Or at least I used to be. Like you, the longer I live, the more I’m learning to hold my expectations loosely and trust that God’s plans are best, even if/when they look nothing like mine. When a dear friend was in the latter months of a long battle with cancer, she told me she didn’t have expectations anymore, but she did have hope. She died several years ago, but I still think about her words and it helps me keep things in perspective when my expectations are starting to get out of whack. I hope all is well in your world, my friend!


    1. Lois, I’m so sorry you lost a friend to cancer. It’s profound that she saw the beauty of letting go of expectations and clinging to hope. What a powerful transition. The verse that keeps coming to mind is Jeremiah 29:11. When we yield ourselves to God’s plans (“‘For I know the plans I have for you…'”) we can know we’re right where we need to be. I don’t always live in that place, but I’m getting better. Thank you for sharing the wisdom of your friend. I’m definitely taking that with me.


  5. Simple but profound! How wonderful that our precious Lord knows us so well. He teaches us through experience. We grow deeper in Him when we trust Him with our expectations and our heart. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


  6. Hi Jeanne! This is so good! When all is said and done, I find that most of my expectations were self-focused and didn’t take into account the needs of others. To turn my thoughts to gratitude and praise has been a real help in dealing with disappointments … sometimes huge and sometimes little ones.


    1. Ahhh, Linda. I hear you. Often when my expectations aren’t met, it’s because I’m me-focused too. I appreciate your thought about the importance of turning our thoughts to gratitude and praise. When our eyes and hearts are focused on Jesus, it’s easier to navigate those disappointments. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, friend!


  7. I understand the disillusionment that comes with unmet expectations. I find I try to meet many expectations myself because then someone else can’t fail me. I also think that I can do things better than others. I think pretty highly of myself, don’t I??

    Tony Robbins quote is a truth to hold onto when it comes to expectations. I love the picture of the fog and reflections in the water. That feeds my soul just like all the pathways I post! 🙂


    1. Mary, you made me laugh out loud. I tend to think pretty highly of myself too. 😉 God’s been reminding me to let others into things . . . as in letting them help me when I could do something myself. There’s a humility and a graciousness in saying yes to an offer for help, yes? I liked Tony Robbins’ quote too. And that fog picture—God showed me the scene on the way to a kiddo’s appointment and I just HAD to stop and snap a few pics. 😉 I bet that’s happened with some of your pathway pics too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful words, Jeanne, to free me from my linear view of things. So thankful that God sees the entire trajectory of my life — including the purpose of any disappointments that happen along the way. This changes everything.


    1. I’m with you, Michele. I’m so glad God sees the entire trajectory of my life. He doesn’t waste anything that comes into our lives. Remembering what you said, that God has a purpose in allowing us to walk through disappointments. You’re right, keeping this perspective helps the way we view things.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful, Jeanne. I need to learn to look more through the perspective of appreciation than of expectation. I’m not as perfectionistic as I used to be, but it’s so hard to break the expectations I put on myself. As always, I love your photos. Thank you for the heart smiles! Love and hugs!


  10. Expectations are premeditative resentment. Someone told me that once and it has stuck! But what a great way you have introduced to change our attitude toward disappointment from unmet expectations–heart of gratitude.


    1. Lynn, sorry for the delayed response! That is an apt definition for expectations! I feel like I am continually having to choose to have a heart of gratitude. It doesn’t come naturally. Sigh. Choosing gratitude is one of the many ways God encourages me to become more like Him. Have a great weekend, sweet friend!


  11. I’ve never explicitly thought of the connection between expectations and gratitude before. I try to live a grateful life. I also try not to let my expectations run away with my imagination :). When I assign my students a project, I clearly state my expectations. If they don’t meet my expectations, I look first at me–what did I forget to do that would have helped them meet my expectations better? Then I look at them (why didn’t they do as well as I expected). There’s usually a reason somewhere in the middle of those two questions. I like to have expectations–just not unreasonable ones–and I think the key is balancing when we should have expectations and when we shouldn’t and to have grace for ourselves and others when we mess up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anita, I love your perspective on how you approach expectations in your classroom. Teachers need to have standards and boundaries. I remember teaching math (forever ago), and if my students in general got low grades, I knew I hadn’t taught some concepts well. Looking at our part in a case of unmet expectations is a good way to approach things. I like your final thought—about balancing our expectations with grace and a well-rounded perspective. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here!


  12. If we can’t be trusted with the small things, how can we be trusted with the big things? So true of gratitude … if we can’t be thankful for the small things, how will we ever be thankful for the big things? It usually takes an illness to knock me back to reality. When did I get so high and mighty? I don’t know. It just happened. And back to reality, I’m grateful for each breath, each day, each crumb. ❤


    1. I like your take on this, Shelli! Yes, learning to be grateful for the small things is important. And it does seems to open our eyes and hearts to be grateful for the big things. Love your thoughts here, friend!


  13. I love this, Jeanne! I can definitely see how being disappointed by unmet expectations from others, can easily turn into a lack of expectancy in God to fulfill His promises. I have been guilty of this kind of thinking in my own life.
    Thank goodness, He can always be trusted!
    Thanks for sharing this. Perfect word for this season. 🙂


    1. Rachel, this sounds bad, but I’m a little bit relieved I’m not the only one who’s struggled with this kind of thinking. 🙂 I’m with you…so grateful that God is always trustworthy. I hope your holiday/Christmas season holds a joyful sense of expectancy of what gifts God has for you. 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by!


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