Monday, December 30, 2013

Gentle Expectations

Our expectations play a big part in how we approach and experience life.

I set out one day recently to ride a horse that I have ridden and worked with numerous times in the past. She is a horse I would have chosen to demo with on groundwork because I know that she can demonstrate what it is "supposed to look like", and that can be super handy when explaining an exercise to people. I had not "worked" with her in many months on any ground skills. She was being a bit grouchy so I thought I'd send her out on a couple quick circles to get us syncing, and then I'd be on my merry way out for a quick trailride. Much to surprise she did not deliver on the simple circling request! Although I know how to teach a horse to circle, my plan for that moment was to circle and get out of there, and apparently I was not feeling too flexible. I found myself very quickly getting frustrated and disappointed because she was not meeting my expectations.

As I sit here on my day off, far away from this frustrating situation, I am in a good space to ponder the outcome of that event. How often do we respond to people with the same disappointment and frustration. Although I prefer to think of myself as a fairly gracious person, ha ha, we all have expectations of people that we are in relationships with and the strangers we encounter, don't we? As imperfect human beings we fall short; people disappoint other people. How do you respond when others disappoint you? Does it send you into a spiral of self loathing or launch you into crazy frustration? I have heard people say "I choose not to expect anything from people then I won't be disappointed". Although a safe option perhaps, I don't think we want to stop expecting great things from our horses and from others but I do think there is a potential lesson here in having "gentle expectations". We need to ask God to help us be gracious in allowing people to have their own experience and responding however they might.