Michelle Duggar on Having 19 Kids and Zero Expectations

ToysOne of the things Jim Bob and I realized early on in our relationship was the idea that we have expectations that we sometimes can't live up to. We all have ideals about what we expect from our loved ones, and this is something Brother Elmore, who is our preacher and pastor at our church has talked a lot about.

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As a mom I could have an expectation of a clean house (or a semi-clean house) so I can at least walk down the hallway without tripping over toys, or the expectation of a good night's sleep of eight hours. Whatever those expectations are, our pastor has explained, may be way up here in the clouds, but our actual reality may be down here with what we're dealing with, and everything in between is frustration. And you can find yourself getting very angry and put out about the way your life is because you've got all these expectations of how you thought it was going to be, or what it was like when you were growing up.

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When we realized early in our marriage that we needed to give those expectations to God -- we needed to yield our right to a clean house, to a full night's sleep, to whatever it is that we think we deserve or we should have -- and say, "Lord, I'm not going to have these higher expectations that may not ever actually get reached. I'm going to give this to you, Lord, and if you allow anything to happen, that's good. I'm going to praise you, and I'm going to be grateful and yield my expectations to you."

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And here's what I think happens if we don't do this and we don't learn this lesson in our relationships: We're going to withhold praise, and we won't be able to praise our spouse or our children because they're never going to meet our expectations. We're always going to have this attitude toward them that "You're irritating me. You are a frustration in my life. You are causing grief." So we need to be able to set aside ourselves and our expectations.

And yielding our expectations doesn't mean we don't need to make goals. Setting goals and making plans is different. But giving up expectations gives us a grateful spirit -- we're not discontent with where we are in life. And we're not always grumbling and complaining about the way things should be -- it really does create a spirit of gratefulness in our heart.

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