Guest blog by Rob Maroney, co-author of “Hope After Hurt”
Plain and simple, life doesn’t always turn out the way we imagined
The Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to most of our normal routines. As a result, we had not travelled very much. Eager to take an overdue vacation, we scheduled a two-week trip to Italy, France and Spain. I eagerly jumped into the planning and organizing for this trip. I think I’m a pretty good “Rick Steves Wanna-Be”, so I set out to arrange flights, book hotels, schedule transportation, and make reservations with tour guides. But as my plans started coming together, my vision and expectations for a wonderful trip started to grow as well. I had hopes of visiting new cities, enjoying new foods, and relaxed sightseeing while connecting relationally and emotionally with my best friend … my wife. But God had another “expectation” in mind. He wanted to work on our endurance and our ability to stay connected, even in the midst of imperfect circumstances and unmet expectations.
Unmet Expectations Take You Down
Expectations refer to the beliefs we hold about how things should turn out. While our expectations aren’t always bad, they often lead to disappointment when reality does not match up to what we had in mind. You may have heard it said, “An expectation is a resentment just waiting to happen.” When things didn’t go as planned and my expectations were not being met, I became close friends with resentment and disappointment, which quickly became stumbling blocks in my emotional and relational connection with the one I really intended to be connected with.
For example, while we were in Marseille, France we took day trip to Aix-en-Provence. This was one town we really wanted to see. I had an expectation of strolling the narrow picturesque streets of a quaint French village, eating wonderful French food, quietly enjoying a glass of wine. But what awaited us was a town filled with thousands of tourists (just like us), busy restaurants, and impatient shop owners. At one point, distracted by a wedding taking place outside a church, Roxanne and I became separated from each other among the huge crowd. The group we were with was leaving, and I was not with them. I couldn’t believe they would just leave me, and Roxanne was upset that I had disappeared.
As we eventually found each other and made our way back to Marseille, the air was a little “icy” between us. I reacted, my resentment kicked in, and as it leaked out our relational connection was broken.
Endurance, Rather Than Comfort
Remember, how I mentioned God had another plan rather than meeting my expectations? In the book of James he writes, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4).
I confess my struggle with expectations for a couple of reasons. First, to make it clear I know I haven’t arrived when it comes to this whole “unmet expectations” thing, but I’ve had a lot of practice working on it though. And second, I share our vacation story as a reminder of how it’s the little things that trip us up. Is it any wonder we struggle when we come face to face with a major “this-isn’t-what-I-signed-up-for” expectation?
Having expectations isn’t all bad, though we might be tempted to think so. There’s nothing more rewarding than when something turns out above and beyond what we dreamed or imagined. When that happens, we respond with thanks and joy to God. His kindness humbles us and we thank Him for His surprises.
I’m reminded that He loves me and shows Himself to me in ways that are above and beyond my expectations … “Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” (Eph. 3:20)
When I expect fairness, easy relationships, reward for doing good, to not be misunderstood, and to be treated well, I’m reminded God is more interested in my character … and learning endurance produces greater and longer-lasting fruit. I run into trouble with my expectations when God’s plan unfolds differently than I thought it should. I’m still learning that even when circumstances fall short of my desired hopes and expectations, it’s still possible to stay connected.
How is God producing endurance in you? Can you see how imperfect circumstances and unmet expectations can be used for your greater good, even when it’s not what you imagined or planned? Maybe He is doing something above and beyond what you expect!
Hope After Hurt
By Roxanne & Rob Maroney
Is your marriage a mess? Are you disconnected, struggling, or stuck even after counseling? Or are things between you and your mate too tidy or perfect but you’re wondering what happened to the adventure, the passion, and those feelings of your first dates?
If distance, distrust, and despair define your marriage and you just hurt too much to see any hope, read Hope after Hurt before you do anything else.
During their many years of teaching, coaching, and counseling, Roxanne and Rob have seen countless couples grasping for that last hope, perhaps like you, desperately trying not to give up.
But that’s only a small part of their story. In Hope after Hurt, Roxanne and Rob reveal not only how their marriage was rescued from becoming another casualty in the rising divorce rate but how they were set on the path to create something entirely new. They offer a transparent telling of how their early histories unknowingly haunted their marriage and their choices and how they dramatically changed their destructive path.
They open up about secrecy, lies, broken trust, loss of connection, and damaged intimacy. This is not just a story of two flawed people and their need for repair but also an honest account of more than forty years of healing using practical tools for greater connection and intimacy in marriage. Hope after Hurt offers hurting couples real-life examples and a roadmap to healthier relationships.
Connect with the authors Roxanne & Rob Maroney at EyeSight Coaching
Look for more resources being released in the coming weeks to help you to discover and develop healthy intimacy in all your relationships.
FYI: We also provide one-on-one coaching, if you would like to improve your relationships, or you want someone to talk to, e-mail me at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, and we’ll schedule a time to connect. Our hope for you is that through these blogs, references, and resources, God will transform you from being bruised or broken to an abundantly blessed child of God.