If you are at all like me, you find yourself perplexed or frustrated by the mistake of confusing hope and expectations. The best way that I can distinguish between them is as follows: We all hope for world peace and the ability for all people to get along without doing harm to one another. Unfortunately, that cannot be a reasonable expectation.
The problem is largely within our everyday interactions, both with those we know and with strangers. My expectation is that doing something as routine as grocery shopping should be free of conflict, annoyance or any form of distress. It’s too bad when that expectation should have been considered a hope, based on the types of encounters you can witness every day in a grocery store.
Within the last week, I have had my side mirror rudely jarred out of place, narrowly missed being run over by a frenzied shopper and been delivered extremely dirty looks by someone who was waiting for me to make a selection. While none of these episodes were life-changing, they convert something that we plan to be uneventful into something that is unpleasant.
We can all remember similar events in our pasts. Some time, somewhere, we hoped to be invited on a date by the man or woman of our dreams, but that expectation was dashed and never realized. Most likely, it would be more accurate to state that we hoped for that date. Or we hoped for the greatest job of all time when that hope was never realized. Somehow our expectation was unrealistic or incapable of materializing.
Should we stop hoping for what we want? It might be a method of preventing disappointment when those hopes should have been expectations that were unfulfilled. Anyone who knows me will immediately recognize that I will never stop hoping. Those hopes are for happiness and success, for those I love and for me. To cease hoping, in my view, is to refrain from dreaming about the best of all possible situations and consequences.
Instead, managing expectations seems to be a much better option. Tending to our poor bedraggled hydrangea, I hope that we can nurse it back to good health. That may be an unrealistic expectation. While I hope (and dream) of the book that I have recently begun to develop, my life will more likely be free of disappointment if I refrain from imagining it as a best seller. And likewise, we must dream of the best possible world for those around us, with the expectations that the road to that existence will be unpaved and full of detours. Shalom.