One of my father’s favorite sayings was “he who expects nothing shall not be disappointed.” I must tell you that Dad was not someone you would refer to as an eternal optimist, but he was not a pessimist either. Born in the years preceding WWI to Polish immigrants, he was a hardworking man of simple means. Raised on a farm he knew the meaning of hard work and saving money. His philosophy on life was that if you wanted something you worked for it.
Many years later, I often think of that saying and attempt to apply it to the world that we live in. Therein lies the problem – my expectations of people are simply way too high. I generally end up becoming disappointed and getting myself into some sort of trouble over that disappointment. The fact is: I expect a great deal from myself in terms of performance and behavior, and therefore I hold myself accountable to a very high standard and expect everyone else to be the same. I find that as I age… this expectation conundrum seems to rear its ugly head more often than it did when I was a young whippersnapper.
I wonder why… Yes, I’ll be honest with you and say that when I hand a cashier at a convenience store some of my hard earned money; I expect a “thank you” in return. Rarely does that happen. How about when you do something nice for an associate at work, or even a friend or relative? There I go again – looking for that “thank you” or some sign of gratitude that never comes. So sometimes I cop an attitude for the lack of gratitude. I could go on and on, and I’m sure that most of you reading this know exactly what I mean and have even had it happen to you a time or two.
I’ve even had a co-worker tell me that my expectations of others are just too high. “People aren’t like that anymore,” he would say. So… Am I the by-product of my ancient parents that raised me to match the standards of “their time?” A good question, and by the way Mom was also a pre WWI baby. Dad made it through the 6th grade, worked on the farm, and when war broke out in 1941 he answered his country’s call. He was already an old duffer of thirty something… by then, and he surely must have taken a ribbing from his peers because of his “advanced age.” By the time “yours truly” came along, Dad was already 44. Imagine if you can… what it was like growing up in the rebellious 60’s, being raised by parents already well into their 50’s. I can tell you that it was tough. Most of my peers had parents a good 20 years younger than mine, who kind of embraced the “Beatles Revolution,” the anti-war movement; and let’s not forget about the attitude…. “if it feels good… just do it.”
Okay, so now that I’ve had my one minute pity party, how about we move forward, and figure out the next move. Luke 9:62 tells us that Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Translation: don’t dwell on the past because there is nothing you can do about it now except to learn from it, so just keep moving forward with an attitude of gratitude, and put it to work.
I have to tell you that some of the greatest satisfaction I’ve received in this life has been when I’ve helped my fellow brothers and sisters during a time of need. It might have been in the form of advice, instruction, services rendered, monetary assistance, or just plain LISTENING to them. But one thing is for certain; there was a need and I attempted to fill it somehow, some way, the best way I knew how. When everything was all said and done… I usually felt pretty darn good, and you’d be surprised just how fast your own problems and issues seem to become less significant…. when helping other, by putting them first.
Somewhere along the way I discovered that my parents did a good job of instilling in me a sense of moral obligation, integrity and service to others. They are both gone now so when the going gets rough I will often reach out to my Heavenly Father for advice and ask that He grant me wisdom and the ability to love others so that I may serve Him and thereby bring Him honor, praise and glory. Since this is always easier said than done…. I consider to be a work in progress. I have my good days and my share of bad days, but I try to stay focused on moving forward and doing the best I can. Some days I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels, and then there are those days that seem to make life worth living. It’s called “making a difference.”
Making a difference comes in a multitude of shapes and sizes, and not always when you might want it to come, or expect it. The trick is to not give up and to not worry about what others think. Don’t expect a pat on the back or the approval of your peers; as you might be waiting a long time. Matthew 9:37 tells us “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” So just roll up your sleeves and get to work. When the going gets tough ask for some help. Sometimes it will come from unlikely sources. Matthew 7:7-8 pretty much sums it up for me: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.
Yes indeed, people can and will disappoint you, particularly, if you let them. Have faith in God and trust Him – He doesn’t disappoint. Merry Christmas to All, Tom Slavonik
My friend, Tom Slavonik, is both, a Vietnam era Veteran, and Cold War Veteran, serving in the Marine Corps. He has been in the HVAC industry for many years, but his passion is Aviation. He owns his own plane, and is a Certified Flight Instructor, living in “The Apple of the Lord’s Eye” …South Carolina. I am proud to call Tom my friend. …Blessings…cjlb…12//26/14