My Chalky Suit Coat

I’m a “Leaner.” Whenever I teach in a classroom setting, I find myself leaning against a table, a door, a wall, or even – unintentionally – a chalkboard. I’m not sure why I lean, but I always have.

Last Sunday I was teaching our Marriage and Family class at church and I leaned up against the chalkboard while wearing a navy blue suit. Immediately after my EC did her best to dust me off, but it was pretty obvious that it was time for a trip to the dry cleaners.

When I got home, I took off my belt, emptied the pockets, and hung my suit coat and slacks over a chair in the dining room. My son noticed and told me he needed his suit cleaned, too. His suit joined mine on the dining room chair.

Wednesday rolled around and my EC asked me if I needed to have her drop the suits off at the cleaners. I thanked her, but told her “I got it.”

(I didn’t.)

Friday night and the suits were still in the dining room, and by then was too late to get them to the cleaners and still get them back by Saturday. We shook them off, and hung them back in our closets. Not a big deal, as there is always next week. Basically, what I had expected to do didn’t get done.

My 40 day (2 month) Social Media fast was a lot like getting my suit coat to the cleaners. I had expected to get something accomplished, but, after all is said and done, I didn’t do what I expected myself to do.

I expected that during this time I would make some big decisions regarding my blogging, use of Social Media, decisions about how I would spend my time afterwards, etc.

Those expectations are still hanging in the dining room.

Yes, I got some things done, and it was an interesting experience “tuning out” for a couple of months. I’ll be sure to write about that over the next few weeks.

Today, I’m thinking more about mismanaged expectations and how they can negatively impact us.

We have a lot of expectations: In ourselves, in our loved ones, in our leaders, in our society, in our faith – and that is okay. The problems lie in when we have expectations in ourselves, or loved ones, our society and our faith that might not be well “managed.”

For example: God has very high expectations for us. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “Our Heavenly Father is a God of high expectations. His expectations for us are expressed by His Son, Jesus Christ, in these words: “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48).” (link)

Perfect is a pretty high bar. Some would say it is unattainable. Yet when God states His expectations for us, He isn’t just tossing it out as an idea to consider. To make it possible for us to each that high bar, He has set up a Plan that came make it happen. You seek perfection? There’s a Plan for that. It requires a Savior, Mercy, and a loving Heavenly Father. All of that is already taken care of. For our part, we need to try to live the best we can, repent properly – through the Plan as provided by the Savior – and have a ready willingness to repent .

We know what is expected, we know how to achieve it, and we know that things have been established to help us succeed. That sounds fair.

God has shown us a good example of managing expectations. Often, we run into problems when our expectations are not clearly defined, managed and explained.

For instance, a friend in our Marriage & Family class made the comment about an ongoing conversation with his wife:

She says: “After all these years, I don’t know why you don’t realize what I want.”

He says: “Honey, after all these years I don’t know why you still haven’t realized I can’t read your mind.”

Sound familiar? This was in response to a comment I made, based on my experience with unmet expectations:

“Some of our greatest marriage arguments have come about from frustration that my spouse did not respond correctly to desires that I never actually expressed.

That is the biggest trick to not be disappointed by unmet expectations in ourselves and others: Define them. If I am disappointed in myself or others because of an unmet expectation that has not been defined and communicated, then I am not playing fair, and am on a sure path to frustration.

Sometimes we find ourselves playing a twisted little game of “let’s see if they will do what I want them to do without me saying anything.” For example: I wish my son would wheel the trashcans back from the curb after trash day. So I watch every week to see if he takes the initiative to get it down. He doesn’t, and I am disappointed in him for it.

See how unfair that is? I am expecting him to read my mind, and then holding it against him for not being psychic. Unkind.

The solution is to lay out what the expectation is: “Son, you are now in charge of the trashcans each week.”  Then we have a basis to gauge success or failure.

It can apply to ourselves as well. I find myself being disappointed that I didn’t accomplish some of the things I wanted to get done during my sabbatical, yet when I look a little closer, I know that I set myself up for failure by not clearly defining goals that I hope to achieve. As you have probably heard, “A goal unwritten is merely a wish.”

Regarding my expectations for what MMM and my Social Media presence will look like now that I’m back: I haven’t figured that out yet. (Insert smiley-face emoji here.) I haven’t established my own expectations. I’m not sure when or how often I am going to post. I don’t know when or if I will be continuing with “Sunday Night Check In.” But, rest assured, I’ll let you know when I know.

As for your expectations for MMM – I hope you don’t have any, because any expectations that you might have are merely conjured up on your end.

Expectations are good and necessary things. They help us focus our lives, they help propel us forward. They help us train and lead those dependent on us. We need to have expectations for ourselves and others – but those expectations must be clearly defined and communicated. If everyone is on board, then it becomes realistic – else we are just setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment.

I need to get this posted, hop in the shower and get ready for church. I’ll try and steer clear of the chalkboard.

Have a great Sabbath – it is nice to be back.


About the author


  1. Your posts are always thought provoking and often repentance prompting, but there are many things in your life that take precedence over me. You know what are the most important uses for your time.. I am willing to enjoy your sprinkles in my life.

  2. Glad to have you back. I got a kick about guys not being mind readers, and our ECs expecting us to. I learned it in the same place, (Family relations class) — but, about 35 years ago.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you for returning. Substance and sanity added to my Sabbath! (and whenever you decide to blog).

  4. My expectation for MMM is that you do what is best for you. The rest of us will all survive, no matter what you decide to do. Thanks for reminding me about what to expect and what not to expect from others. It was quite appropriate for me to hear tonight.

  5. I forgot you were gone, but then I wasn’t a regular. RS today was the best. On Meekeness. The teacher put this on the board: meekeness=hope=faith=charity=perfectness=entry into Gods Kingdom. All sounds hard, but if you just focus on Meekness, it’s doable. It was a game changer.

    1. are those supposed to be “+” signs rather than “=” signs? (Because hope doesn’t equal faith, and faith doesn’t equal charity, etc,)

  6. Welcome back! I missed your thoughts and look forward to seeing more of them if it’s what you’re supposed to be doing. You might look at it like an extra calling if that’s what the Spirit tells you.

  7. Great to have you back. Whatever you decide to post I am sure will be both interesting and inspirational as in the past.

  8. Welcome back. I used your absence to read your new book. (Quite enjoyed it.) Figured that was one of your expectations.

  9. My expectation, clearly defined, is that you will keep up with your insights and sharing with us….please.

  10. Well I’m willing to state my expectations for MMM. I hope that you will continue to blog, doesn’t have to be every week but more when you feel you having something worth while to share. Sunday Checkin is a good way to reflect on the day but I can do that without “Checking In” on your check in. Lately I’ve been mulling over getting off FB altogether…. still mulling that one over. I just really LOVE your blog posts.

    Oh, and welcome back for as long as you want to be back.

  11. Yay!! Welcome back! We’re thrilled to be uplifted by you in any form you so choose?

  12. Oh my brother, I’ve missed your voice on Facebook. One silver lining is that I’ve discovered Malcolm Gladwell, who also makes me think. I’ve read some good books and had a great vacation visiting my sister and her family.

  13. I was just thinking about your blog today and wondering when you’d be back. Glad to see your post this morning. It was exactly what I needed.

Add your 2¢. (Be nice.)