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Love 2: Authentic

Question:

Are your expectations too rigid?

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Transcript of Video:

I think if most people are like me, we have this expectation of love: maybe something that’s given to us, maybe we want to emulate our parents, or maybe we want to emulate somebody on TV. And I think we go out searching for this certain love and have this expectation of what this love is. And, in actuality, love actually happens to us. It’s something that we can’t expect. It’s nothing that – whatever our plans are – love is actually going to wipe that out. It kind of happens to us, and then all of a sudden we realize we’re in it. I think we realize what a façade the other stuff was and just kind of give up and let it happen. It’s kind of like a load that’s lifted off of your shoulders, to realize that you’ve been looking into something that you can’t obtain, but yet God, who can do all things, has actually given to you as a gift. And it’s just like, “Oh, this is what this is. This is so much more authentic,” and you just run with it. But it’s a relief to realize the gift that you’ve been given, and to be able to be authentically yourself and not live to another expectation of what love is. Maybe that word – we strive – I think a lot of us strive to attain a certain amount of love, like it’s something that we can possess, that we can buy, or that we’re given. But there’s actually nothing that we can attain. It’s all pure gift and it happens. It just happens. It’s a mystery.

-Br. Jim Woodrum

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57 Comments

  1. Susan on April 3, 2015 at 14:44

    I love this idea that love is total gift. Haven’t we all been caught up in the illusion that we could earn love, make love happen in the ways we wanted it, or believed that love should arrive in the socially-sanctioned forms that we’ve been taught are acceptable.
    I have been single for a number of years and love finds its way into my life in many forms – love of friends and family, love of my work, of my clients, love of the teachers who guide me, love of my church community, of my dog, my garden, the natural world around me.
    Lately I think I might like to have a partner again. But it is so helpful to think that this might come as a gift. I do wonder if there is something different I should be doing to be open to love in the form of a loving partnership, if my expectations are too rigid, but I really have no idea. And actually to keep not knowing, but to keep the question alive – are my expectations too rigid – might be really helpful.

  2. Sophfronia on March 29, 2015 at 14:52

    My first thought on this was, “Oh, I’ve come to the point in my life where age and experience has taught me not to be attached to expectations,” but here’s the truth: God has knocked me upside the head with the unexpected gift of love and when it happens it comes out of nowhere. I’m shocked, bewildered and left repeatedly wondering “How did this happen?” until the futility of the questioning wears me down and I just sit in it and live out the love the best I can. So I guess my answer is, if my expectations were ever too rigid, God has broken every single one. Yes He has. #SSJEtime

  3. Elizabeth S. on March 29, 2015 at 13:45

    Yes! Rigid expectations have been my way of life. But I’m getting better. 🙂 Now I try to practice having no expectations with regard to others’ behavior. If I stick to my own behavior, then I am much better at staying in a loving frame of mind/being than if I’m focused on what someone else might or might not do. That way of thinking takes me further away from Love.

  4. Lissa Davis on March 27, 2015 at 11:31

    My daughter got mad at me last July and hasn’t spoken to me since, taking she and my granddaughter, my only biological family from me. All I want to do is curl into a ball and cry but I can’t. I have to be strong, make light of it and, to follow sage advice, pray for her. I do pray, alot, but sometimes just want to stomp me foot and scream. So I put up a brave front.

  5. Lisa on March 26, 2015 at 11:56

    I hope for love from those I love…..and given who I am and the way I show love, I tend to want love demonstrated to me in the way I want to give it to others. I had a conversation with my daughter-in-law last night and realized after the fact that I may have “overshared” in a way that she, as an introvert, was uncomfortable with. It is important to keep our differences in mind and to understand that those I love will show their love to me in the ways that are comfortable to them. Keeping expectations to a minimum is always a good thing.

  6. Christine white on March 25, 2015 at 20:55

    I don’t have expectations anymore due to how rigid I was. I go with flow. I talk to our Lord ask him to guide me and what happens happens !

  7. Linda on March 24, 2015 at 22:14

    Br. Jim, how wonderfully worded. Love is a gift in every form and it comes to us when we least expect it and most need it. The challenge for each of us is to be open enough to receive the gift as it is given because we each have a choice to accept the love or not. Thank you for your words of truth.

  8. NA on March 24, 2015 at 13:14

    Of myself? Oh, yes, way too rigid sometimes. I am working on letting go, releasing the idea that I am the world’s caretaker and somehow responsible for the happiness of everyone around me. Progress is being made, since God has this nifty way of presenting me with the same lesson over and over until I finally get it. He is, of course, more patient with me than I am.

    Of others? Historically, I have tended to be too lax in how I teach others to treat me, though I have changed this significantly with time. I try hard not to place my expectations on others unduly, though, since everyone needs room to Be.

  9. Patricia on March 24, 2015 at 12:55

    My mother always told me that I let my heart rule my head — as though it were not a good thing! When I was 65 years old I let my heart rule my head and have never regretted a moment.

  10. Winifred on March 24, 2015 at 04:37

    What a beautiful post – yes, surrender to love. It is all around us and we can see it and embrace it. THANK YOU!

  11. Mark on March 23, 2015 at 23:31

    Yes they are. I’m trying hard to think outside the box but it ain’t easy

  12. Dee Dee on March 23, 2015 at 22:32

    Brother Jim’s words are very wise, and his description is — in my experience — spot on. Love happens to us. It is a gift. When love happened to me, I was not looking for it or expecting anything; how and why it happened is still a mystery to me, but I do know that it was a gift from God. I regularly thank God for the mystery of love, but find that the place where my expectations are too rigid is this: I expected that it wouldn’t be taken from me so quickly and so abruptly. That is where I continue to struggle.

  13. Jana Everett on March 23, 2015 at 22:32

    Yes, my expectations are too rigid. Of myself, of others. Today I had a lovely morning at the 20th st gym–the pilates and the water aerobics class and then soup with June. It is fun to make new friends. Later I fell apart–my course evaluation were not very good. I felt unloved and inadequate. But I know that I’m not a popular teacher. I need to let go. My friend never called. I don’t know if he is back, if I will see him or what. If I am going to have a relationship with him, I need to let go of expectations of what the relationship will look like. I guess I’ve been working quite hard lately on a number of things at church–a discernment committee, a task force to try to improve things, our efm class. I need to let go of outcomes. Just do my part as well as I can. This is really hard for me. I have a neurotic pattern from childhood of trying really hard and feeling I failed. I guess my expectations are that outcomes will give me all of the love I never felt as a child. And of course the experience is of failure. At the same time I can notice the beauty and love around me, even if it is not what I was looking for.

  14. Jane on March 23, 2015 at 21:58

    As a child I experienced love as conditional on the part of my parents, who indicated they would love me IF I was obedient all the time. And of course, I couldn’t be perfectly good 100% of the time. I was also always compared to other kids and found lacking. I know now that my parents were trying to mold me into a good person, but it backfired big time because I felt unloved so much of the time and also didn’t feel worthy of the love of others. (How could I be worthy when I had been taught that I had so many shortcomings.) And the pre Vatican church I grew up in also taught me that God’s love was conditional, as well. It made me choose a more isolated path for many years. After years of therapy with an excellent therapist or two plus the healing associations of two different Pastors along the way, a great deal of the damage has slowly been repaired. I have become more outgoing, more of a risk taker, slowly developing more than just superficial or casual relationships. And the healing, thank God, continues…

  15. Susan Zimmerman on March 23, 2015 at 20:04

    …there is love of people, which is one aspect of Love
    …there is love of what you do and spend much of your life loving it, with no place to use it…here one can only push back at all the laxies in your place.
    …there is love of tacos
    …true Love is never rigid for the one involved…just Love… and it is not static rather several complimentary polar opposites w/in this Absolute and each must be kept in balance…

  16. Tracy on March 23, 2015 at 18:54

    I find this one the hardest lesson so far.

  17. Nicki on March 23, 2015 at 17:51

    Expectations? Painfully sky high. Something to continue to work on.
    An adult child of 2 alcoholic parents, I never learned to know love, coming my way. I knew love when I first held my first child. That was a lovely, tender gift, something I had to be very careful with so as not to abuse the love. Thirteen years ago I knew romantic love for the first time, and I seriously discussed it with God, and lived with it for a while before I told my future spouse how I felt. As Brother Jim said, I knew it. It was a gift from God, and because it was so new and special, I had to hold onto it for a couple of weeks and sleep on it several nights, before I declared it!
    Today, knowing love coming my way is still a distant understanding rather than something I know, and I am very grateful to have that much.

  18. Claudia Booth on March 23, 2015 at 16:12

    I have discovered that grown children are very busy with lives; their jobs, their families, their friends and their other responsibilities and activities. They can’t be expected to stop their lives and sit still by my side. On this day, I am thankful for two precious beings, a dog, Max, and a cat, Henry, who exude unconditional love. What total sweetness!

  19. Verlinda on March 23, 2015 at 15:55

    At times, my expectations are too rigid–of others and of myself as well. Learning to let go and let grow has been a wonderfully liberating gift which came through the very sudden death of my husband at the age of 45. Since then, and as I’ve worked through the grieving process and begun to truly live again, I’ve appreciated the peace and calm that has come through learning to be satisfied with the love I have. No one can ever replace my husband, or the other loved ones I’ve lost, but I’ve learned to accept that love has many forms, each as individual as we are.

  20. Muriel Akam on March 23, 2015 at 14:42

    I have had happier relationships with friends and family since I’ve made a conscious effort to accept them and love them for who they are rather than having unreal expectations. I feel that I’ve let God’s love into my life and it is such a nice feeling , so much better than being cross or upset with people for not behaving as they should. I was loved by my parents and knew and felt this although there were periods of what I call ‘healthy neglect’ I never felt unloved or not special. I try to show this to my children , husband, family members and friends.

  21. Judy on March 23, 2015 at 14:26

    No. I’ve been blessed to learn from an early age to see and accept people for who they are, and to leave my heart open to accept whatever blessing God chooses to fill it with. As a result, I have experienced so much love. Love of family (though not ALL my family), love of friends, romantic love, and most of all the love of God. I’ve also found that even when romantic love doesn’t work out, it doesn’t keep you from loving that person, or keep them from loving you. Sometimes relationships don’t go as needed, wanted or intended, but staying friends and allowing that love to change and grow in a different way makes all the difference. I am happy despite the disappointments because God has allowed me to keep the love and accept that things don’t always turn out the way you want or expect.

  22. Bonnie on March 23, 2015 at 11:46

    PS: And from several chronic illnesses, for which I have excellent medical care. But they are annoying+.

  23. Bonnie on March 23, 2015 at 11:44

    Thank you for the pictures!
    Yes. My expectations are always too high of where I’m supposed to be in my Faith Journey! Partly because of my entire unbelieving family, but also because I expect too much of myself. Despite Lenten readings, other Christian readings, and church participaton.

  24. Karen on March 23, 2015 at 11:32

    I think I’m pretty easy going in most relationships. I think a lot of times I don’t want to receive love because I want to keep my problems and my flaws to myself or I don’t want to feel indebted to someone else.

    • NA on March 25, 2015 at 21:33

      I, too, find it easier and more comfortable to give than to receive, too, so naturally God keeps placing me in positions where I have to receive, whether I like it or not. 😉 Oddly enough, even in our receiving we are giving to another since the person giving to us receives blessing even as they are giving.

      For instance, we may feel vulnerable or indebted when someone cares for us while we are recuperating from something, but those acts of service are a way the person can feel they are finally able to DO something practical to help us. That helps them as it helps us, just one big circle of community.

  25. Linda B on March 23, 2015 at 10:31

    You are right love just happens to us. My expectations are too rigid when I try to force what I want and what I want to happen on a situation. If I let God just be in charge then love is always in that time and place. And although things rarely go as I expected it is always so much better than I could have planned it to be.

    • NA on March 24, 2015 at 12:47

      Amen

  26. Kathy B on March 23, 2015 at 10:29

    I think my expectations used to be too rigid, for deep love, at least. Its easy to love shallowly, to simply care about. It has taken many years of being loved deeply to realize that I might as well give in and love others (outside my intimate circle) deeply, rather than fight to keep it shallow. I’ve found that if I’m honest with myself, its inevitable that I love deeply, so I might as well accept it. Maybe it was that I just got tired of distancing myself, or maybe grace finally won out…

  27. Pati on March 23, 2015 at 10:19

    I don’t think I have many expectations …. love is all around us … sometimes we have to choose to look for it . recognize it and breathe it in …we can expect a gift in every moment … if we can accept it … yes ??

  28. Rev Tom Calhoun on March 23, 2015 at 10:08

    That’s one of the toughest aspects of my journey…remove the expectations. What will happen will happen, and love is constant. I interact daily online with a group of friends…there are thousands of us in the group…and I feel their collective love constantly, but not on my terms. It’s God’s terms that prevail.

  29. N on March 23, 2015 at 10:05

    Thank you Brother Jim. I think that any attempt to define love narrowly creates a rigid expectation. Love, it seems to me, must always be accompanied by wonder and amazement, not to mention gratitude. And when we think of love, do we think of ourselves as taking or giving? I like Philip Larkin on this: ‘In everyone there sleeps/ A sense of life lived according to love./ To some it means the difference they could make/ By loving others, but across most it sweeps / As all they might have done had they been loved.’ (‘Faith Healing’)

  30. Roderic Brawn on March 23, 2015 at 10:04

    I don’t think you can place any expectations on anyone with whom you want to have a loving relationship unless such a person seems to be hurtful to you. Now, Jesus seemed to love people who hurt him. Sorry, but I have trouble loving people who would hurt me.

  31. Terri on March 23, 2015 at 09:45

    I am not sure if my expectations are too rigid. I am not even sure what the expectations are.

  32. Christopher Epting on March 23, 2015 at 09:00

    Having grown up with a father who gave the impression that his love was dependent on my behavior/performance, it took many years to accept that that God’s love did not work like that. Living under grace helps keep my expectations of myself less rigid.

    • Christina on March 23, 2015 at 10:14

      My daughter sat weeping at my dinner table the other evening and talked about the hurt she experiences through her relationship with her son: my grandson. Right now, he is a 30 yr. old high flyer; and he tosses out the crumbs from under the table to his mother. He probably thinks he is a ‘self-made’ man. But as we know, none of us are self-made. Yes. His present success comes from his own hard work but, before that, there were 20 years, and more in between, when he was loved and supported to create the foundation.
      She has asked me to talk to him, and I will. But I am struggling with just what I am going to say? CMcK

      • Janet on March 23, 2015 at 12:48

        This is a hard task for you to do. What does your grandson think his mother has done- or not done- to be treated with such distain? Perhaps his struggle to be successful has been hard, and he has forgotten the loving ways his mother taught him growing up. Does he want praise for his success? Does your daughter show she is proud of his achievements? perhaps in all the striving he has forgotten love, and his need for love. Show him love when you speak to him.
        God bless you all.

    • Alison Vogel on March 23, 2015 at 12:11

      My father was like that too. I’m still learning to accept that God’s being is love, and I still find it difficult to call God “Father.”

  33. Norm Anderson on March 23, 2015 at 08:35

    On many levels I think my expectations are too rigid. I expect others to be on time as I am. I expect others who are driving to respect the laws of driving a vehicle, e.g; using blinkers, putting lights on when it’s raining, etc. I expect others to behave responsibly. The problem with this rigid expectation is that it is a set-up for disappointment. My awareness does not necessarily help me to conquer these “unreasonable” expectation.

  34. Louise Howlett on March 23, 2015 at 08:24

    When we stop trying so hard to earn love, then we can be more open to receiving it as a free gift- I could never experience grace- even though I preached about it and believed it in my head- until I lay down in shavasana and let myself be cared for without striving- what a life changer!

  35. Kenneth Knapp on March 23, 2015 at 08:17

    Yes.

  36. Michael on March 23, 2015 at 08:09

    There is so much emphasis on love, so much talking about love, studying about love that it often overwhelms me and leaves me clueless about love. Knowing God’s love is not effected by our understanding of love and that he only expectes us to try and be the best version of our self helps to keep the idea of love simple. We are the ones that make love more complicated, not God

  37. Nancy W. Del Borgo on March 23, 2015 at 07:18

    Br. Jim, you know whereof you speak. When we pause long enough to feel and realize the gift of love, it is such a comfort and so liberating from the mundane parts of life. I am loved. All else is secondary.

  38. Christopher Engle Barnhart on March 23, 2015 at 07:14

    Sometimes my expectations are rigid and I don’t see the other side of things because I am so locked into doing something one way, my way when it should not be my way, my will but God’s Will.

  39. Dee Paine on March 23, 2015 at 07:00

    I think that my expectations are too rigid in that I am always trying to compartmentalize and define love. My children’s love, my grandchildren’s love, my husband’s love, the love of family and friends – all these fall into different categories and have different kinds of expectations that go along with them. However, when I do this, I’m almost always disappointed and end up feeling “less than” loved. Why do I do this to myself? When I stop trying to make everything perfect, I come to realize that real love – authentic love, already is perfect and we don’t need to define it, categorize it, or explain it. All we have to do is accept it and thank God for the gift of His perfect love. ❤️

    • Susan Dredge on March 25, 2015 at 13:32

      Dee you could have written my comment for me, thank you. I thought I knew what I was feeling but not how to express it and you described my feelings of love and authenticity of love. So much better to just accept the love that God has bestowed, authentically and without chains, just love with no conditions. He accepts me for who I am. Very often I think I am not good enough but I know God still loves me.

  40. Linda H. on March 23, 2015 at 06:59

    As the adult child of an alcoholic, I learned as a teenager to try and control things so daddy wouldn’t drink. Of course, it didn’t work, but now that I’m well into adulthood. I’ve grown to accept the mystery of love and know that it comes at its own pace if and when I am my loving self. I’m thankful that I can now trust God to give me an abundant life, especially if am relaxed and do not have high expectations.

    • Jeff Lowry on March 23, 2015 at 11:50

      I can identify with your post a lot.My situation is/was a bit different. My mom’s adoptive father was an alcoholic and her adoptive mom had a chemical imbalance in her brain. She parented my mom in abusive and very Co-Dependent ways. Suffice it to say mom took such ways as a parenting model …

  41. Craig sugden on March 23, 2015 at 06:45

    My life is constant expectation. As a teacher i have them on my self to deliver a good class and I have them on my students to deliver good results. Unfortunately i bring this home with me and i keep up the high expectations on those around me. It must be tough to live with.

  42. Joan Alayne stevens on March 23, 2015 at 06:34

    Love is one thing in which the more you give the more you get. It’s multiplicative. And it’s the one thing that God has for us whether we deserve it or not.

  43. Tom on March 23, 2015 at 06:33

    today’s words have been the best so far! Love just happened to me when I was 31. She was so special, so unique, nothing I could have ever imagined. We had an almost perfect life together with two wonderful adopted children sent by God. After eleven unbelievable years, she died from breast cancer in 1993. I never intended, expected or even wanted to be married again. Then in 2010, Love just happened a second time. We met in the same hallway at work where I met my first wife. She is so special, so unique, nothing I could have ever imagined. We have been married for almost three years. We have an almost perfect life together with the same two wonderful adopted children, now as wonderful young adults.

  44. Agatha Nolen on March 23, 2015 at 06:33

    Wonderful news, Br. Jim. You’ve described my previous life: I wanted to be loved to affirm my worth, and I kept striving for the perfect “love”. Realizing that love is God’s gift to us and He loves us with no strings attached allows us to then go and love others in the same way. Thank you for this very powerful reminder that it is nothing that we do. Love is a free gift.

  45. Karen on March 23, 2015 at 06:31

    I don’t think that I’ve had healthy expectations for love, and have therefore allowed myself to be taken advantage of. I’ve always thought that I had to earn love, and this is a very hard pattern to break.

  46. Elspeth on March 23, 2015 at 06:29

    This was a great one this morning. I realized that God helped me to react lovingly yesterday when I had a fight with a family member. I realized that God was at work in realizing the person needed a hug. I hope to be able to accept and give love today.

  47. Kim on March 23, 2015 at 06:07

    I think my expectations are rigid at times but then I sometimes relax them to the point that there are no expectations. I’m not always clear which causes frustration for both me and whoever I’m dealing with.

  48. Andrew on March 23, 2015 at 05:01

    Breaking away from our rigid outlook on things is very hard and full of tension. I am learning to accept we have to learn to live with tension better and regardless of the situation we may be in, let ‘Love’, let God simply enter our lives and allow it to work.

  49. Bob on March 23, 2015 at 04:26

    Do you know, this bit I can actually sit thinking – yes – he’s hit is right – ’cause that’s how it feels. Not challenging to do different, but assuring to do more. Love just happens. Many times and many many different ways.

  50. Deborah on March 23, 2015 at 02:55

    I’m not sure if my expectations are too rigid…..I think part of my struggle with my faith is that I don’t always know what my expectations are.

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