Expectations are a bit like resolutions, aren’t they? They can get us into a load of trouble, especially if you’re like me and set the bar too high.

I recently had a hysterectomy. Before my surgery, I did my best to get the family prepared emotionally and physically. A few years ago I had cancer, and the surgery didn’t go so well. This time would be different. I was going to make certain my family could function seamlessly while I was down. I bought enough toilet paper to keep a convenience store running in case we had bad weather, stocked our bottled water stores, fixed and froze extra meals, and did every speck of laundry I could find.

In addition, I did my homework. I read articles and watched videos about my upcoming surgery. And I was enthused! Most of the women reported an easy recovery—hardly any pain—and a return to their Mary Poppins existence in no time flat.

You know, there’s a reason those women were chosen for the videos…

And let me tell you, no one is knocking on my door to advertise my “easy” recovery.

At this point, I’m several weeks post-surgery and in the midst of a typical post-surgical depression in addition to drowning in unending nausea. I can’t stand up for long without discomfort, and I don’t have energy to do much. I want to curl up under the covers and feel sorry for myself.

And I feel a bit like a spectator in my own home.

However, a few things have occurred to me:

  • I need to stop comparing myself to others. I’m not a poster patient. My body has it’s own timetable. I was a mess after a c-section, too. While my other friends toted their new babies all over the world, I hobbled around my house. This time has been no different.
  • Setting my expectations too high leads to anxiety and depression. It robs my joy. I need to give myself some grace.
  • This is temporary. I will come out of it. Yes, I feel like I’m climbing an unending mountain, but that feeling will go away. The best thing I can do is ease back into my “normal” by adding activity back in small pieces. To do nothing will only exacerbate the depression. Too much and I’m going to tank.
  • When mom is down, others blossom. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen a new, more mature facet of my eldest. Rachel, my younger daughter with autism, has enjoyed spending time with other people. I’ve seen her give several people genuine hugs, and she shows me pictures on her iPad of her adventures with a huge grin on her face. There’s still no one she prefers like her Mamma, but this has given her a chance to be more independent and adventurous.
  • Letting people help me is a way of blessing them. Does that sound strange or backward? So often I think of blessing someone as me doing for them. But sometimes the giver is the one who is deeply blessed.
  • In my weakness I understand love in a deeper way. I’m not capable of earning anyone’s love right now. I can barely step away from the bathroom. But that’s the beauty of our Savior. Just as I feel a fierce love for my children, especially when they are sick, I know Jesus has the same affection for me. He loves me whether I am weak or strong. When I am at my weakest, it is when I tend to look up the most.

Give yourself a heaping measure of grace today, my friends, and don’t let heavy expectations burden you and steal your joy.