It was a regular Sunday afternoon as I sat in front of my TV, lucky spoon in hand. The New Orleans Saints were ready for a much awaited rematch against the Los Angeles Rams after a controversial loss in the NFC Championship Game last year. The energy buzzed in my small, empty Graduate Hall as I watched the players come onto the field, and I knew it was going to be a good game. It was going just how any regular season game would go, until the cameras cut to Drew Brees holding his hand right before a commercial break. Brees was injured.
No one watching the game was aware of the severity of the injury, and everyone had expected Brees to make a reappearance onto the field, but this wasn’t going to happen. The Saints suffered a 9-27 loss against the Los Angeles Rams, but we lost more than a game that day. We lost hope.
In his 19 years of playing professional football, Brees has only missed one game due to injury, which is why all of this seems surreal for Saints fans. Disheartened and discouraged from the loss, Saints fans were heartbroken as the details of the injury came out; Brees would be out for at least six weeks due to a torn ligament in his thumb.
Many fans had high expectations for this season with a fresh and hungry team, a miracle win against the Houston Texans, and the additions of new and talented players. We expected to go to the Super Bowl, or at least the playoffs. We expected Brees to lead this team to another successful season, but circumstances changed that. We expected everything from Brees.
Expectations change; it’s a simple part of life. So that makes me ask the question, what expectations do you put on yourself ? Growing up, I had expected to be a superhero, more specifically, Spider-Man. I remember always being disappointed after hours of trying to climb the wall in my bedroom and coming to the conclusion that this expectation was unreasonable, for now.
As I grew up, my parents set an expectation for me to make good grades in school, and I was able to live up to this until I brought home my first C. I remember bawling in my third grade classroom, and classmates, who had lower grades, rolled their eyes, but they didn’t have the same expectations that I had. When I told my parents about this, they told me they knew what I was capable of and that they expected me to put in that much effort. This didn’t prevent the blubbering mess I was after telling them, but it encouraged me to do better.
Going into middle school, I really struggled with my grades. The more I struggled, the less motivated I became to keep up with the expectation to have good grades. I went from trying to keep good grades to trying to keep good friends, and that came with its own list of standards. I remember thinking that I had to be funny, I had to be attractive, I had to be cool, and I had to be known. I wish I could say that I’ve left these expectations behind me, but I haven’t.
Despite starting over in college, I still believed that I had to meet everything on the list. I felt like I had to attend everything, I had to be the funniest, I had to be the most clever, and I especially thought that I had to always be present.
This past summer, I learned that no one ever told me I had to be all of these things, but they were things that I told myself I had to be. I tried to define myself based on my ability to meet these standard and, unsurprisingly, I always came up short. The beautiful thing about expectations though, is that God has an expectation for us, and when we become defined by him, it is much more rewarding and fulfilling. You’re never going to be the funniest person alive, nor will you ever be the most popular person on the planet, because the things of this world are always changing. Don’t limit yourself to earthly expectations, instead set your expectations on being more like Jesus, who is unchanging. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”