Expectations: Finding the Holy Medium

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Linking up with Blessed Is She this morning to talk about expectations. #BISsisterhood

Did you know we actually have scientific surveys on happiness? The World Happiness Report was established in 2012 and claims to measure international happiness. The survey asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10 and the worst a 0. They are then asked to rate their life on this 0-10 scale. 

You know who consistently scores the highest? Denmark. 

But the Danes themselves don't actually think they are all that happy. What they have are low expectations.

The Danes consistently rank their expectations for their lives pretty low at the beginning of the year. When life turns out not to be as terrible as expected, they are content with the year, and thus rank highly.

While this strategy of low expectations might score the Danes highly on these international surveys, I'm not really sure it's true happiness.

What if we were to try the Danish strategy with finding happiness in our prayer lives? Instead of being able to look back on a year that really wasn't all that bad, I think one would be more likely to find a year filled with missed opportunities, apathy, and a growing distance from God.

We really can't get away with low expectations in our prayer lives, because it doesn't function like a work life - it's more of a love life. It's a relationship, and relationships are something that need expectations.

Low expectations in prayer life seems akin to trying to figure out the bare minimum one can get away with doing. Perhaps the relationship will limp along by doing that, but I hardly think it's a recipe for happiness.

As Catholics, we are called to find the holy medium in many things - expectations being one of them. Low expectations are out, and expectations that are too high will cause a "crash and burn effect". What one needs is to find that beautiful, and holy, place where you are reaching for God from where you are - not where you wish to be.

As much as I would enjoy being in a peaceful convent where I could do my work and pray at all of the appointed hours - it's not where I am. I'm called to be a wife and mother. Right now, that means being a mother to small ones who have big, sudden needs for me.

I fulfill the needs of my children while also expecting prayer time to happen. I also expect sleep to happen and eating to happen. These are needs I have as a human being, and I can't make them less so by lowering expectations.

I can change my expectations on the hows and whens, but I can't let my changed expectations become no expectations. God doesn't stop asking for a relationship so neither can I.


  1. Yes! Very well put, Kirby! It is so important to find a happy medium. I especially love how you point out that basic human needs won't go away, even if we lower our expectations. In the craziness of life, specifically during college, I would occasionally be hit with the temptation to shoot for lower expectations of self-care (meaning, neglect of myself!), because it's almost as if my "needs" will go away if I just don't have the expectation to be able to sleep or whatever. But that kind of thinking NEVER works, because ultimately it will lead to a crash-and-burn :P

    Thanks for linking up today!

    1. I feel like it's important to point out that it doesn't work because of the prevalence of "just keep pushing on and ignore how much this isn't working" mentality among women. It's even promoted among new moms, and that's just downright unethical.

    2. Fantastic point!! I was just talking with a friend of mine (who is like 20 years older than me) and we've seen that kind of thing in both of our age groups. It's quite sad, and needs to change in our culture!


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