Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Expectations Turning Into Betrayal

In the column 'Learning by Living in the Peace Weekly, a religious sister recalls a man, without a wife, who was raising his son alone. He was a good obedient son, graduated from college, had a good job; the father was proud of his son and proud of himself because of his son. Everything seemed to be going along smoothly.

One day, however, the father appeared as if the world had collapsed. His son came home late, drunk, wobbled around and the father without thought expressed anger at the son's behavior. His son, in turn, looking directly at the father: "What have you done for me that justifies your anger" screamed the son. "Tell me?"

The father was shocked by the gleam in his son's eyes, his anger, he was out of breath, his whole body seemed paralyzed. "It seems that the years I have spent raising you have all disappeared into the darkness. How did I raise you?" Shaking, he wondered whether this was a betrayal. All the love and trust that was once there all in a moment, disappeared. 

The words of Neil Postman came to mind. "When  expectations are too clear and vivid they are the only things seen. Nothing else is on the horizon." The father in this situation was confined by his expectations. They were reflected back to him from the mirror into which he continually looked.

Betrayal is an emotion that can only be felt by a loved one. When the person I believed in turns against me in gossip, when siblings fight over property given by parents at death, when a lover turns against the one loved for another, this we see as a betrayal.

Expectations for the son turns into a betrayal moment. "What did the father ever do for me?" In these words, the father's world fell apart. Fortunately, the father was able to open his heart and talked with his son.

His son missed his mother. He endured all the troubles for his father who raised him. When he was a child, he remembered the mothers of his friends waiting at the gate of the school, and running to the arms of their mothers. Or when he saw mothers walking in the streets with their sons he had to swallow tears for there was no way to suppress his memories of long ago.

In the end, longing became sorrow, anger, and returned as a grudge against his father. The son may have wanted to ask about his responsibilities: Why was he born? The repression and the resentment that piled up poured out due to the liquor.

The father found it difficult to understand the son with his head but in his heart, he realized that it was not a head problem but one of the heart. It may take time for the grudge and suffering of the son to go down to his father's heart. He knew, however, the day would come when his expectations would retreat to the background.

Often heard is keep your expectations low and be an overachiever. There is truth in this saying but better still is to hope even when our expectations are not realized for hope is a desire in a future good difficult to attain that is not possessed but wanted and for a Christian trust in God.

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