Guilty Expectations

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I took the whole “train-up-a-child” thing very literally.



When I vacuumed, two-year-old Hannah slung a child-sized broom around the room.


When I dusted, she took a Kleenex and tired to wear a hole into her designated spot on the coffee table.


When I washed the dishes, her little 24-month old arms drug a chair next to me, so that she could slop water onto the floor from her side of the divided sink. 


Okay, so Hannah wasn’t much house-help at this age. In fact, she made far more messes than she cleaned and her attempts actually lengthened my tasks at hand. But, I praised her for the attempt rather than the completion. After all, she was only two. 


What would you think had you found me standing over Hannah, barking orders at her to get the full-sized vacuum into all the corners?


What if I had withheld her food until she perfectly rid the entire living room of dust?


Or continued to dump the dishes she had inadequately washed back into her dishwater until her job met my standards? 


Can you imagine the guilt-ridden trauma Hannah would now be dealing with as an adult? And the kind of relationship she and I would have?


And yet, somehow, we have this unexpressed view of our God as a task master – complete with a stern eye toward perfection. 


No matter what He asks us to do. we struggle with a vague sense of inadequacy and guilt.


But the simple truth is:


Our ability to accomplish His work on our own is no more suited to perfection

than a two-year-old is in cleaning house. 


He is just way different than anything we’ve ever experienced (Psalm 50:21). 


He doesn’t expect us to “get ‘r done,” while He sternly looks on. No, He can “estimate the desire even when the execution is defective” (H.D.M. Spence). 


Or as Hannah Whitall Smith says: “It’s your purpose God looks at, not your feelings about that purpose” (Chapter 13, Hungry For More: Feasting through the Word).


Guilt squirts out because we are tightly squeezing onto

our own expectations,

rather than asking God for His. 



I’m tired of feeling guilty and inadequate. Reveal to me Your truth about my works and help me see them as You do. I leave today in Your Hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.