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Saying No to the Expectations of the “They's”


**I do not own the rights to this photo.


Hello everyone! It's time to say “No!" No is a complete sentence, did you know that? Do you know it's okay to say “No”, even to friends, family, society, and pastors? This emotional space in my life has been a long time coming so I wanted to tell you how this came about and what it will look like for me. I realize this may look different for everyone. However, I can tell you this space is very freeing! You won't be the same person. You won't think the same way or act the same way. I can verify that what you choose to tolerate will also change. People may not understand you. You may lose some relationships and friends but what you gain in purpose will be so much better. When we are free of the expectations placed on us by others, society, or both; we see ourselves and our purpose clearly for the first time – free of the clutter and noise of all the other voices in our heads. Let me tell you a story.


Last Sunday, someone I trust and have known a very long time said one of the most profound, freeing things I have ever heard in my life. We were talking about things I wanted to accomplish and I was telling her about my angst with a few things. Mind you, the things I was angsty about where things that other people had told me I needed to do to be successful in this life and in America. She looked me straight in the face and gently said, “who told you that you had to do those things? You don't have to be like everyone else. You don't have to do what society tells you that you must do to be happy or successful.” I paused and just looked at her for a second absorbing what she said. She had spoken to a place in my heart that desperately needed to hear this. I remember thanking her, hugging her, and then we went our seperate ways. She had somewhat stunned me into silence in that moment. If you know me, you know this is hard to do. I could not get her words out of my head all day. In fact, I could not get them out of my head all week long.


On Thursday afternoon this past week, I was sitting in my office between tasks and not thinking about any one particular thing when the why of what she said hit me so suddenly I cried. I realized in that moment it had not been her speaking, but God speaking. In that moment, I realized all the expectations that I had taken in over the years without realizing it. I had taken in expectations from my parents, society, the church, and friends. I had taken in the expectations of the “they” instead of saying “No, this is what I believe I am called to do and this is what God wants me to do.” I had never asked God if these were the same expectations he had for me or if they were things and desires that He wanted for me. I had taken these expectations at face value: “you grow up, you get married, you have kids, you by a home, you build the “American dream.” Not to mention the other voices: “you can't do this as a woman, you can't do that as a woman. You must do this as a woman, you must do that as a woman.” I never stopped to question if these were things I actually wanted or if God wanted them for me. They were just “what I was supposed to do.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized these expecations I'd taken in had also contributed to the strongholds in my mind of “unlovable” (which I have written about), being a failure, and not feeling good enough (another topic I have written about). No wonder I felt unloved, not good enough, and like a failure when these “expectations” that “they” told me I had to fulfill did not happen! This was a big revelation for me! How many of us are in the same place or have been in the same place in our heads?


Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you it is time to say “No” to the expectations of the “they's” and say Yes to what God has put in your heart! It doesn't matter whether people like it and/or understand it. Now, let me pause here before I am misunderstood. There is a big difference between not taking on the expectations of others and ignorning our responsibilities in life. If you have an immediate family or children, you are responsible for your children until they are 18 and to your partner as long as you are together. When we take jobs, we accept certain responsibilities. When we take out a loan or use a credit card, we accept certain responsibilities. Whether we buy or rent a home, we take on certain responsibilities. Cars come with responsibilities. Business partnerships come with certain responsibilities. Even pets come with responsibilities! I am in now way saying by not taking on the expectations of others we throw away our responsibilities - that would not only be ludicrous, it would be wrong. When I say it is time to say “No” to the expectations of the “they's”, I am saying it is time to say “No” to the status quo and to doing things exactly like everyone else. It is time to stop pleasing everyone else at the expense of your well-being and your calling. Let me give you an honest example using my own calling, purpose, bent, and interests.


I am not a homemaker. I don't have that bent at all. I can cook and I will cook to take care of myself but it's not my favorite thing to do. I would rather bake when the inspiration hits me. I will take care of my home and my things but I don't have the “stay-at-home-mom” bent that my Christian culture says I should have if I'm female. That has zero appeal to me. I say go for it to you ladies who enjoy that type of thing. Unlike many people here in Oklahoma, I'm not a gardener or a farmer. I have no desire to live in the country or take care of barnyard animals and tomatoes. I don't even like the country, I'm a city and suburbia kind of woman. Now please don't misunderstand, our farmers are valuable to us and I appreciate what they do, I'm just not one. I like to work and be productive in a career. I like to go out and find new adventures, and travel the country and the world. I like to write and speak. I enjoy being a nurse, but not a bed-side nurse. I enjoy outreach and going into places other people would not go. I got married, and it didn't work out. I am open to marriage to the right man, and I'm okay if that doesn't happen again. I figure if he's meant to marry me, he will have no issue with my calling, purpose, bent, or interests; in fact he will celebrate them. And if he does well then, we aren't meant for each other. I did not have children because I was not in a great marriage. I'd be open to having step kids or adopting, and I'm also okay if that doesn't happen. Whether you do or don't have children has nothing to do with your contribution to society and your worth as a human being neither does marriage or lack therof for that matter. I haven't bought a home yet and you know what, I don't have to and at this point, I'm taking that in stride. I haven't done my share to build the myth of the America Dream that is more about greed than anything else, and that is okay.


I will not apologize for my purposes, bents, interests, and desires. I will also say that if your life is very different than mine, and your interests and bent are different that mine, that is perfectly okay too. God gave us all different purposes, bents, interests, and desires. We are all in different places in life. He loves us all the same and I love you and your different life! Those purposes, bents, interests, and desires aren't based on whether you are male or female (God's not that silly or inflexible), they are based on what He purposes for you which is better than anything or any other expectation you or anyone else has purposed for you. Did you know that his only expectations of you are that you let Him love you and get to know you? I'd take that over any American Dream, societal expectation, church, friend or family expectation any day. His expectations allow us to rest and actually change our hearts. All of the “they” expectations just make us run harder on our hamster wheels in hopes of accomplishing something to impress someone or get something we can't take with us after we die. I am done running my butt off on the hamster wheel to impress people, get stuff I can't take with me, or “look like a good Christian.” I'm okay with being the black sheep because the Shepherd still loves me. I'm okay with not doing life like someone else does life because I don't have to compare myself to anyone anymore. I know Whose and who I am. I'm more than okay with saying “No” to all the expectations of the “they's” because they neither made me nor for the most part do they know me. As for family and friends who do know me and love me, I love you and I'm still going to say “No” to your expectations. You will be okay and I'm more than okay. Did you know love says “No?” Well, here is my “No.”


As I said before, this has been a long time coming. I don't know any other way to say that to you. To be honest, it's probably 20 years overdue. I didn't know then what I know now about God and about me. I didn't have the experiences then that I have now. I hadn't been through the fire of pain then like I have been on this side of life. I wasn't walking in healing and my purpose then like I am now. I have said all this to say that Elizabeth is not the same as she was even a month ago. She is definitely not the same Elizabeth she was 20 years ago. I am here to tell you that you can walk in the same freedom from expectations. All you have to do is decide you are done with expectations that, in the long run, won't matter in 10 years much less in eternity. All you have to is choose God's purposes for you over your own. It won't necessarily be “safe” (another thing God is working out in me) and it may not even seem practical, but it will be worth it. What are you waiting for? What do you have to lose? What or who do you need to say “No” to?


It's time to say “No!”


Jeremiah 29:11 NIV; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


Matthew 11:29-30, the words of Jesus; “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”



With much love, spice, and spunk,



Elizabeth







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