Keeping Up with the Unrealistic

Lysa TerKeurst hurt my feelings. Oh yes she did.  And the Invisible Me actually slapped her. She didn’t do it in a fifth-grade-mean-girl-way. But she stepped on every last nerve I had and now my heart is soft and I’ve cried most of the day. Thankyouverymuch, Lysa. I wasn’t even wearing waterproof mascara. Way to go. 

On a recent family vacation I took along her book, The Best Yes, to read in the car. (I’d highly recommend it for any woman who is breathing.) It was a message I knew I needed to hear.  Skipping across her words about the dangers of saying yes to everything that comes my way, I received her gentle warnings and instruction with ease.  Then she did something that made me consider throwing that adorable book cover out the window to its destructive death along Interstate-70. 

She said “You won’t ever be able to keep up with unrealistic.” 

How dare she.   

The context was in regard to trying to please other people.  I read that section a couple of times until I felt the familiar, gentle nudge of the Spirit tell me “And Kim, YOU won’t ever be able to keep with unrealistic either.” That’s when my perfectly applied mascara went awry.  I work very hard at keeping up with unrealistic. In fact, I wear myself out.

Boy, oh boy. That hurt. It hurt because I needed to hear it, in the same way an alcoholic needs to be told they need help.  I’m a pretty typical firstborn, complete with self-confidence, a love of structured routine, leadership and determination to get things done.  I also have a big need to please people and a huge fear of failure. Wow, don’t I sound so laid back and relaxed?  Unfortunately, those things spin together to weave a tapestry of unrealistic expectations.  And I impose them on myself and others, albeit silently. Oh, and let me add…I sometimes offer little or no grace when a human falls short. Now, who wants to be my friend?! 

I have unrealistic expectations for my housekeeping, my cooking and my parenting.

I have unrealistic expectations for my husband, for my children, for my friends.

I have unrealistic expectations about what I can commit to, get done and emotionally handle.

Having high expectations is not the same as having unrealistic expectations. One gently pushes you toward greatness. The other pushes you toward insanity. I had ignored the difference

This familiar scripture comes to mind. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 

I’d like a little of His sufficient grace to fill in all the gaps left from me trying to be perfect, and consequently demanding this of others. Sign me up for some of Christ’s power restin’ on me! 

It’s a new season, and a good time to chill out on punishing people and myself for not living up to my unrealistic expectations.  How about you? Are you trying to keep up with unrealistic?  Like me, have you inadvertently punished the ones you love for not being perfect or berated yourself for not being super human?

I need to submit my sin of trying to keep up with unrealistic to God and let Him heal my heart.  For the sake of my call to Christ and for the ones I love.  And maybe so I can go back to liking Lysa Terkeurst again…

About Kim Heinecke   

Kim Heinecke wants to live in a world where children listen to the advice of their mothers without question. As a former single mom she’s been encouraging women using her life experiences in parenting, growing in the Word of God and everything in between. When she’s not negotiating with a teenager or wrestling a pre-schooler, you can find her camping in the family RV or pretending to understand sports with her husband and four sons. Read more from Kim at