Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Breaking Expectations

Rebel or conformist? Which are you?

I'm a conformist, through and through. Rules are meant to be followed. It drives me nuts to see people not following the rules. To me they seem rude and self-centered. I've always taken it that people who go against the grain are just being selfish.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if they're just self-aware. Going along with the program often comes at a cost. As a conformist I would simply go with it and then fume and gripe it when the cost was more than I had wanted to pay.

Well, I'm learning to rebel. Not for rebellion's sake. For my sake. I'm learning to pay attention to the price of rules and expectations and decide whether I can pay it. And if I can't pay, I won't play.

Here's an example from the last couple of weeks that really opened my eyes to this:
a good friend has been good through some difficult times. As to be expected, another friend coordinated meals for her family. I was asked if I could make a meal.

Normally, my heart would sink at the thought of having to cook for another family. Cooking is a necessary evil to me. I do it for my family and I do it reasonably well, but without any real joy. And so when situations arise (births, deaths, sickness) I pitch in by making a meal but dread every minute of it and find myself drained in the process. Cooking is not my love language, my chosen area of service, a hobby, or anything aside from a way to keep my family alive.

So here it is, a request for a meal. My heart sinks. Not only that, but I am already burnt out by the own demands in my life. From where I stand, I'm wishing someone would make me a meal. And so I avoid responding, but I think to myself, "I just can't do it".

Some days pass and I walk around in a cloud of guilt for not wanting to help a good friend this way. Finally, I simply decide that I need to take the step of not doing something simply because it's expected. And so I respond that I cannot make a meal. I am not in a place where I am able to do it. Period.

Suddenly the guilt vanishes. I've rebelled and placed myself and my needs first. But I'm not selfish. I'm still a caring person. Without the weight of expectations I find the freedom to be creative. I write a card to my friend in crisis. I drop by her house with a small gift. I show compassion through actions that fit me better than making a meal. I think she is blessed. And I'm not so burnt out.

This conformist is seeing that rebellion can be good. I'm thinking of making it a rule to rebel at least once a day. Of course that rule might be hardest to break of all.

4 musings:

everydayMOM said...

Great post! It's cool to see how you are making so much progress in this area.

Expectations have been a huge trouble spot for me, as well. However, my problem is with my OWN expectations of others! God has really worked on me in this area, and it's also freeing to release other people of expectations.

Please promise me you won't EVER bring me a meal! =] A phone call is just as nice... oh, unless you WANT to bring a meal, and then it's fine. haha!

Sarah said...

I need to do the same sometimes...not necessarily with meals, but with other "requests." I'm feeling more empowered with my issue earlier this week that you encouraged me on. Thanks!

Tea With Tiffany said...

I relate to your not liking to cook. I also relate to starting to break the unspoken rules and start living by God's design. There the real fruit grows best.

Nice to meet you!

Online Printing said...

Wonderful and very inspired post! Personally, I think it's okay to conform as long as it is within your set values and morals. There is a point when conforming just isn't acceptable anymore. And sometimes, it feels really good to go and break someone's expectation of you, but by doing better of course, on your own terms :) Thanks!