This morning I was listening to a talk where a spouse shared the deep expectations they held for their 25th wedding anniversary. Expectations they did not realize were even there until they found they were feeling upset, uncared for, and as if their spouse was not meeting their needs. The expectations could have derailed things and caused great problems, but instead they dealt with them head on and accepted them for what they were.

We all have desires for things. Desires are not wrong. They are natural, and even are healthy. As we grow in our relationship with God our desires will become more and more like his. Scripture says, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

We need to be on guard though because a desire that is not from God can lead to a battle, a battle for control and for your heart.

You start with a desire, but as that desire goes unmet it becomes a demand. For example, we move from I desire ice cream tonight to a point of I need to get ice cream. The demand is typically expressed as a need. (“I need this respect.” “I need a raise.” “I need time with my spouse.” “I need this person to listen to me.”)

This demand and place of “need” moves me to a place of expectations. We can reach a point of expecting respect, praise, time, benefits, love, etc. When that doesn’t happen we come to a place of unfulfilled expectations which lead to disappointment. We can feel down, hurt, lonely, lost, angry, and resentful. Our emotions can tell us that we deserved something and didn’t get it so someone else has not fulfilled their function correctly. They did not meet our need, so now somewhere inside we hurt, stew, sulk, or even plot revenge. Ultimately we may lash out with a form of punishment. We want others to feel bad or to pay for not meeting our need. We then withhold our relationship, communicate less, and quarrel/fight with others. Sometimes that is done outwardly in a verbal interchange, and others times we may withdraw and punish the other person through lack of communication and interaction.

It all starts with our desire.

Desires are good. Desires are normal. Desires are healthy.

Check yourself though because a desire that is unmet may become a demand toward others.