The new year is around the corner and it's about this time I reflect on the past year and set goals for the new year. I guess you could call them resolutions. I wonder if you have a similar practice.
I've decided that one thing I'll commit to in 2017 is to hold reasonable expectations of myself and for others in my life. I decided this after re-reading my favorite book on ministry leadership, Leading With A Limp by Dan Allendar. I love how honest Allender is. It’s refreshing because he says things that most of us are afraid to say -- the simple truth of realities. The chapter in which Allender writes this is about counting the cost of leadership. It’s simply an honest look at the unrealistic expectations we create for people.
I'm going to be intentional about practicing what I preach and let people know I have their back, expect them to make mistakes and not be good at everything, confront them with grace and gentleness and understanding that my specific desire and expectations may not be met, and to remember they are imperfect people just like me, and that they are human, not superhuman.
Allender writes, "What we want is an illusion and we know it. We prefer the illusion because we have a deep need to be buffered from reality." and that "we inflict on a few while we comfort ourselves that we don’t have the right stuff to pull it off." Strong words, words that I rejected at first reading, but found myself understanding them the more I thought about it.
I wonder, as imperfect humans, what do we avoid about the reality of ourselves when we are unreasonable with our expectations for others? For me, I can unreasonably expect people to be all I need or desire because that's who I want to be, and it's impossible. It's good to step back and say. "It's not about me in this moment." I wonder if you might benefit from stepping back and realizing that your expectations for perfection from others, thus creating an illusion of reality, is because of your own fear of not being the perfect superhuman. Being compassionate toward ourselves will lead us to show compassion to others. Compassion is the root to all that we hold dear in our UU faith. I look forward to adjusting my expectations and reminding myself I am beautifully imperfect and will not have my every need and desire met because those around me are beautifully imperfect too.
May your holidays be blessed with joy and beautiful imperfection.