Disappointment And Great Expectations

Yesterday morning I received an email from Kenny Conley, our Next Gen Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin. He gave us our flight and hotel information for the trip to Atlanta for the Orange Conference. He also mentioned a restaurant in Atlanta that prepares 24 hamburgers a night and only serves them at 10pm. His email ended with this statement:

“We have an appointment to attempt to eat one of the best burgers in the USA.”

Kenny had me at “best burger.”

The rest of the day I paced myself so that I wouldn’t be too full to enjoy 1 of the 24 burgers.

Rather than eat lunch, I watched Charles Dishinger eat at Salt Lick BBQ at the Austin Airport (which is incredibly delicious even in the airport).

Rather than eat a full dinner, I ate soup at Chick-Fil-A. That was the first time in my life that I’ve ever passed up a Chick-Fil-A sandwich while sitting in a Chick-Fil-A.

Our team from Gateway includes Kenny Conley, Cathy Harwick, and Corey Schwarz who know lots of people at the Orange Conference. Charles, Andy Edwards, and I don’t know as many. All that to say, as Kenny, Cathy, and Corey said hello to old friends of theirs, I found myself extremely anxious to leave the conference to get in line at Holeman and Finch, the restaurant with America’s best burger.

After getting a bit lost, we finally made it to the restaurant at 9:15pm. Our party of 6 was promised a table in 45 minutes, and we got on the list for burgers #22, #23, and #24.

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed. My disappointment grew when I found out that 5 others were coming to join us. We now had 11 people wanting to share the 3 burgers.

We got to a table sooner than they promised, and we ordered several other dishes. I just tasted the Catfish and Grits and the Crispy Gentleman holding out hope for the burger. We avoided the Veal Brains and Rabbit Livers that were also listed on the menu.

At 10 pm sharp, the announcement went out letting us know it was time for the burgers!

It was then our group of 11 had to figure out how to split the three burgers. Fortunately, Andy and Corey gave me half of one of the burgers, and they each got a quarter of that same burger.

Picking up the half burger, I had finally arrived at the moment my mouth had anticipated all day long!

The verdict: it was good.

It wasn’t the absolute best burger I’ve ever had. In fact, it wasn’t even the best burger I’ve eaten this year. In-N-Out, P.Terry’s, Wholly Cow Burgers, and even the blue cheese burger at Black Sheep Lodge were all more delicious.

Have you ever built something up so big, that it could never possibly meet your expectations? Often we experience disappointment simply because our expectations are too great. As a result, our companies, churches, family, and even restaurants never quite meet our approval.

In his book Soul Revolution, John Burke referred to a statement he once heard from someone who went through Alcoholics Anonymous:

We don’t hit rock bottom if we keep lowering our standards.

The opposite can be true:

We will continue to face disappointment if we keep raising our expectations.

Earlier yesterday morning I confessed to my staff life group that I lived by a mindset which has helped me avoid disappointment and overcome anxiety. I’ve come to believe the following:

Nothing ever turns out as good as I hoped nor as bad as I feared.

This may be a good mantra when it comes to my expectations of others, but here’s the problem with this idea: I avoid disappointment, but I also diminish my level of faith. Too often, I have believed this to be true in my relationship with God, and I shouldn’t consider God by the same standards I consider others.

Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20:

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Are you facing disappointment because your expectations of others is unreasonable?

Are you lacking faith for a better future because of your disappointments with God and others?

How can we re-align our expectations in such a way that we avoid disappointment while keeping faith in a God who measures things so differently than we do?

I am trying to expect the best in others while also having a spirit of grace.

I am trying to expect “immeasurably more” in my relationship with God while also being patient and re-calibrate what “immeasurably more” from God even means.

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