Spirituality for Today – Summer 2018 – Volume 22, Issue 4

What Do You Expect?

Reverend Raymond K. Petrucci

Some time ago, I was watching an interview with a young journalist who related a very insightful story about growing up in the inner city. He was visiting the prison where a childhood friend was serving a life sentence for murder. Sixteen years had passed since his friend's imprisonment. In the course of their conversation, the journalist asked his friend, "We both were raised in the same neighborhood, attended the same school, lived in the same challenging environment; how is it that you ended up in prison and I was a Fulbright Scholar?" His friend thought for a few minutes and replied, "We were raised with different expectations." The young man who became a journalist was raised in a home where parental support and encouragement to pursue an education and a respectable career was always present. He could rely on a foundation of self-respect and self-confidence that energized his will and his drive to succeed. An important part of the familial love that he received fueled their positive expectations for him and his lofty expectations for himself.

If we are thoughtful, we soon realize how prominent the topic of expectations occurs in daily life. We ask what we expect of family, friends, work, love, life, ourselves and even God. At times, trying to determine what others expect of us and what we expect of ourselves resemble a rodeo cowboy atop a bronco. In life, we have the task of discovering our reaction to expectations regarding childhood responsibilities, our spiritual and moral character, our outlook toward education, our vocation, our self-understanding, and making all of this into a satisfactory life experience. Genetic influences put aside, whatever path we pursue in life requires constant growth in self-awareness and an understanding of the requirements for success. If we are fortunate enough to possess a clear, insightful picture of the person we want to be and where we want to go, the necessities in becoming competent in both areas await our efforts. Environmental circumstances and just plain luck have a role to play in fulfilling our desires, but, nevertheless, we can reach greater heights when we are persistent in developing the skills required to achieve our goals.

The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.


Our greatest strivings and our greatest concerns reside in the spiritual realm of our existence. This is so because of its all-encompassing effects on the person we are and what we do as well as the eternal consequences it holds. Daily news stories confirm the truth of this statement. If we are firm in our desire to live the Great Commandment of loving God, neighbor, and self, you would think that living the morally sound life that God has called us to live should be easy. Then, you are faced with the unfathomable puzzle of human nature. Even in the writings of the saints, we find evidence of the human struggle between what one knows to be good and holy and what one is sorely tempted to do. We need a savior because of our fallen human nature and we have hope in the face of our fallen human nature because we have a savior.

If I look at myself, I am depressed. If I look at others, I am often disappointed. If I look at my circumstances, I am discouraged. But if I look at Jesus, I am constantly, consistently, and eternally fulfilled.

Author Unknown

This is a time of year in which we feel lively and, perhaps, most active. We can apply this mood toward our spiritual action also. We need to be active in trying to help each other choose wisely concerning what life puts before us. If we recognize the weaknesses in ourselves and others, we may be more capable of mutual admonishment and of mutual support in making a better person. Life's tides delight us at its swell and sadden us at its ebb. For us to sustain faith and hope and love, we need a divine source of these virtues in order to raise us above the vagaries of our earthly existence. We, therefore, have deep and heartfelt expectations of the God who bestows his love and mercy upon us. He will fulfill those expectations. Submitting ourselves to being open to his grace manifested in the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within his faithful people, we might fulfill God's expectations of us.