“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
A few years ago, I was listening to a sermon series about marriage. Even though, at the time, I was only a teen and had my focus elsewhere, I found quite a few principles apply to all relationships and it stuck with me.
The main point I took from the series was about releasing your spouse from expectations. He spoke about marriage and how we go into marriage assuming it’s going to be a certain way. Stereotypically we assume the woman will stay home and cook ALL of the meals and clean the ENTIRE house– always, no exceptions. We assume the man will work a minimum of 40 hours at a desk job outside the home and take care of things like the car repairs and mowing the lawn (which also brings into question natural skill set, but not the point right now).
He talked about how it’s ok to have desires of your spouse (I desire that you cook because I hate it) going into marriage, but once those desires become an expectation (you must cook or else you’re bad), we fall into entitlement.
This whole thing really struck me. Even though I wasn’t married, I found this principle related so seamlessly to every relationship I have. The verse, “love does not insist on it’s own way,” is definitely part of this.
I’ve had many difference kinds of friendships and relationships (be it co-worker, mentee, roommate, etc.).
A couple months ago, I was frustrated with one of my friends for something. I was processing it and God spoke to me clearly that, He called me to love this person. Loving this person was COMPLETELY separate from how this person treated me. God didn’t tell me to love them because it felt good and provided me with what I needed, no. He told me to love them, period.
I realized I had started putting expectations on this friend. I wanted them to say certain things, relate in a certain way. But that wasn’t them. That’s not what they do or who they are. Although, I DO want to say taking care of yourself is paramount to a healthy, happy life. Boundaries are so important. Taking care of yourself is NOT insisting on your own way, it’s self care.
Insisting on your own way is when you want everyone around you to start fitting into the mould you want. It’s when your expectations on said person become more important than the person themselves. I noticed this is also when offence comes in. When I have expectations on people (call me back right away, tell me I did a good job, want the same level of friendship, respond in a positive way to what I say… laugh at my jokes, haha) that’s precisely when I start getting offended by them.
It’s not about letting people walk all over you, as I said, BOUNDARIES! BUT, it’s allowing people to be whoever they are and do whatever they want without trying to control them OR let them control you. The friend who has a tendency to make jokes about you may continue to do so. Your friend may continue to show up 15 minutes late even though you are ALWAYS early for them! It may simply be they are more quiet than you are and you wish they’d just ask you more questions or talk more.
But God wants us to learn how to love people unconditionally. Loving someone without condition means allowing them to be who they are where they are. Expectations are often illuminators of our personal flaws. The more we expect from others it seems the more we ignore in ourselves.
For example, I was judging this friend (which isn’t good) rather than loving them and setting up healthy boundaries. I insisted on my own way. I was expecting them to respond more like I would. Which they never will because we’re completely different which is actually great!
Again, it doesn’t mean dismissing their behaviour or not confronting them. It means releasing this person from the obligation of my expectations and allowing them to be who they are with the personality and skill set they have.