There are a few concepts that we, Christians, share with Buddhists and because the is so much truth to be had in Christ it is not surprising that He would be found in all I read, do, and see. A long time ago I studied the Zen way of life and began looking into it again more recently, about 6 months ago. One of the keys to living the peaceful life is to remove expectation and demands from how others react or interact with us. I know that a lot of times I have internal demands that I have dubbed “needs” and some of them are as simple as getting a “you’re welcome” when I give a “thank you”. I think on some level we all expect others to be respectful of our beliefs, our way of life, and boundaries.
I have been shown that the way of the cross is the way of death, meaning laying down all my expectations. I have boundaries, hopefully I am polite and say please and thank you, and I am firm in Christ, but I am learning what it truly means to lay down expectations. We can not change or control the way others are going to respond. It’s not always clear what is going to happen. Normally bubbling with politeness, a woman may be in complete shock after getting horrible news, like the death of her child, and can barely function, let alone show politeness. Expecting perfectly, well executed manners out of a person is not the way of the cross.
Recently I wrote about a family we were just barely getting to know. It was nice to have new friends, but we had such different views on life, parenting, and Christ and only one of us was willing to go to the cross on all issues and so we had to let the friendship go. In this situation I learned what it meant to let go of expectations. We can’t lay our lives down for others and only continue to do it if it’s reciprocated. That’s not the way of our Lord. He lay His life down and nothing was asked of us. I also learned during that time that I could lay myself and my needs, wants, and desires down and accept this person and all the flaws, but still maintain boundaries to keep my family safe. The Lord gave us common sense as well. If I expect nothing in return, it doesn’t mean I need to let anyone behave badly or continue hurting me or my family, it only meant I am free to continue to love them and not judge or expect anything from them.
When I found my strength in Christ I began to voice my needs. Sometimes to Him alone and sometimes to the person who could help. If a situation was upsetting me and I bring it to the cross and leave it there, and it’s still nagging at me, I need to go to that person. The only responsibility is over my own desire to turn towards the Lord rather than my flesh. I can’t make a person see what hurts me, I can’ only tell them and expect nothing in return. When doing this, my strength in the Lord is increased and although sometimes nothing is resolved, the Lord has gained more heart muscle in me. The wonderful experience of knowing Christ is knowing who I am in Him and standing firm in the truth of who I am. There was a time when I could be told something about myself and I would simply believe it. If someone calls me selfish or and other name it must be true, right? No. Held up to the light of Christ He reveals what’s true and what’s not.
Anytime we bare our hearts and share with another what’s hurting us or what needs we have, we never know what’s going to happen. I expected a certain response from Christians, a response from non-Christian, and a response from volatile people and fear kept me from sharing my heart. I have learned that the fear has all stemmed from expectation. I could tell my little sister tomorrow (I don’t have a little sister in real life) that I don’t like the way she portrays me to others and expect her to change or expect her to call me names. Either way, I am doing it to evoke change in how things are happening and I am expecting a difference to be made, right? That is what I used to think.
All expressions of myself- especially my hurting self, all confronting situations that need to happen, and all things said that have been brought before the Lord, are done for me. If change happens, wonderful! If I get called names or my words are not received, it’s not hurtful if I have no expectation. If I have gained an understanding of Christ, that He does not worry about ANYTHING and everything I do is only to express more of Him, well then I have had a revelation far better than any earthly change that could be made.
The strongest, most powerful being in the universe has decided to take residence in my Spirit. He has no expectations of me and I could never live up to the perfection that is Him. If I ever have a problem with how I am being treated, or spoken to, or spoken of, or if I have been sitting on something that I just need to bring to another, it’s not for them. It’s not for the change it will bring, or won’t bring. All things are a reflection of Him. Anything I feel I must do or say to another is meant to bring about change in me, and is to be done without expectation.
Thank you for reading and I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!