They expected what?!

The headline of the Hamilton Spectator this past Tuesday just about leaped off the page at me: Hamilton family left corpse upstairs for six months expecting resurrection. (

empty coffinReally?! If I wasn’t awake before I read that, I sure was now.

Why would they expect the corpse of their dead relative to be able to come back to life?  The article begins:

Peter Wald’s family truly believed he would rise from the dead. They believed it because they had prayed for it, every single day, while his corpse lay rotting for six months in an upstairs bedroom of their Hamilton home.

Wald’s widow said their expectation was based on their faith. She had placed his body in a bedroom and sealed the door as well as any vents, hoping to keep the odour in. She and the family fervently prayed for six months. When they defaulted on their mortgage an eviction notice brought the sheriff to their door. This led to the discovery of the body and a court case.

Mrs. Wald said their faith was still strong, as witnessed in them packing his clothes when they were evicted, just in case the resurrection was yet to come.

The judge did not take issue with their faith, only with the health and well-being of the family. They were free to expect a resurrection. They were not free to keep a corpse on the premises.

Why did they expect this? Mrs. Wald says she still believes strongly in resurrection, and says there have been many “documented” cases of it around the world. Her faith was not shaken by the legal consequences of her actions. We saw in our last post that we expect things for one of three reasons: our past experience, our desire for it to happen, or the authority of others. This case probably rests on the second and third reason. Her belief that resurrections happened in the Bible, and supposedly some modern occurrences, led to the application to her own situations.

Was Mrs. Wald’s expectation one with a firm basis? Why or why not? Based on what we have been looking at, how would you have counseled her to manage that expectation?

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press.

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Analyzing my expectations means determining how realistic they are.

In my last blog, we looked at the first action in managing expectations, which was realizing what they are. This is done by asking the question: What do I (or what do we) expect? It is a necessary beginning, but it really only sets the stage for what comes next; analyzing if our expectations are realistic.

The question I am asked the most often is: “How do I know if my expectations are realistic?” The fact of the matter is that no one but you can make that analysis. In my book, What do you expect?, I have explained the three areas where most of our expectations come from. These are our past, including our experiences, family traditions, ethnic customs and so on. Second, they come from our desires, the way we want things to work out. And thirdly, they come from listening to what others say, especially those we trust or those who have an influence in our lives.

While one or more of these is usually at the root of what we expect, none of them can guarantee we will get what we expect. Why is that? Simply put, it is because there is no agreement given by anyone to us which gives us that guarantee. Now we realize that even if there is a guarantee, the expectation still may not come to pass. The friend who promises to meet us at noon may be late, the parcel may not be delivered that day, our car may not be repaired at the time promised. Stuff happens. But when we are analyzing how realistic our expectations are, we trust there is a far greater chance of it happening if there is an agreement behind the expectations.

Take a few minutes and analyze something you are expecting. Ask the question, “Why am I expecting this?” Is it because it has always happened that way, or because that’s what I hope will happen? Or because someone said it might happen?  How realistic is your expectation?

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press.

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December 1, 2014 · 9:23 am

Managing our expectations begins with realizing what they are.


I compare realizing our expectations to wearing eyeglasses. Most of the time I’m unaware I’m wearing my glasses. (Unless they are as cloudy and in need of cleaning as they are right now!) They are simply the way I see the world. It’s the same with my expectations. I may not be aware of them, but they are the filter through which I watch my world.

In order to manage our expectations, we need to realize exactly what they are.  How do we do that?

  • We realize our expectations by taking the time to think carefully about what it is we want.
  • We realize our expectations by using anger as our “expectation alarm”, a signal that tells us we are upset about something. We need to stop and recognize what we are angry about and exactly what we are not getting that we want.
  • We realize our expectations by talking the matter out with someone who can help us get to the root of what those expectations are. This might be the person we are expecting something from. It might be a friend who knows us well. It may be a counsellor who is skilled at helping us uncover what it is we really want.
  • We realize our expectations by being honest – with ourselves and with others – about what it is we truly desire.

While we may assume realizing our expectations is a simple and obvious process, this may not be the case. It can be difficult to be that specific and open about what we want. To be so specific may mean we admit something about ourselves we want to keep private. To be so open may be embarrassing to us.

In practice, it is not always easy to fulfill this first action of our process. But if we are to manage our expectations in a healthy and effective way, it is a very necessary step to take.

Question: What am I currently expecting that is affecting a relationship I am in? How specific can I be about that expectation? Am I willing to share that expectation with this other person?

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press.

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Why do we need a process to handle expectations?

This past week Liberal leader Justin Trudeau suspended two MP’s from his party’s caucus as a result of accusations from two NDP members. The result has been a war of words between Trudeau and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair over how this affair is being handled. In the Globe and Mail article, Trudeau suspends two MPs over ‘personal misconduct’ allegations, the reporters write:

How the investigation will proceed is unclear. Ms. Foote sent the case to House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer because she wanted a neutral third party to look into it and because Parliament has no rules for dealing with accusations from one MP against another. (

This is an admission that no process exists for dealing with the current situation.

Now, to some, process is a dirty word. I have faced many in my years of work and ministry who objected to following a process. At a meeting meant to bring about reconciliation one person argued, “Process shmocess, what about relationships?” I do not disagree over the need to honour relationships; that was the very purpose of the meeting. But at the expense of following process? Is that helpful?

You see, process is everywhere. It’s really just a word we use for getting things done in an orderly and effective way. We use process every day in our cooking, our banking, our hospitals, our courts, our sports, our schools, our businesses, our traffic, and so on. It is not a matter of needing a process, it is a matter of understanding the process and agreeing on the process we will use.

So, when I am asked why we need a process to handle our expectations, I’m happy to point out you probably use one already, but do not realize it. Problems arise when we don’t know our process. We tend to circumvent it, taking short-cuts, or missing steps that could help us or others. By not having an agreed upon process for dealing with the accusations on Parliament Hill, both parties are claiming a moral imperative and saying they have acted correctly. Unfortunately, it is a stalemate. Why? Because there is no agreed upon process by which to judge their actions.

In my book, What do you expect?, I give this simple process for handling expectations:

WDYE-process-diagram 1

Using this process has helped many clarify their expectations and manage them in ways they had not previously been able to achieve. In my next four posts we will look at each of these four steps in the process.

Follow along and try this process.  It may help you manage your expectations as well.

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press.

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“Call me unpredictable!”

In the words of the Sammy Cahn and James van Heusen classic, “Call Me Irresponsible”, the great singer Frank Sinatra confessed:

Call me unpredictable, tell me I’m impractical                                                  Rainbows, I’m inclined to pursue.                                                                                      (Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

In this ode of love, he admitted he was unpredictable, so be careful. A fair warning for those embarking on a relationship with him. Thanks, Frank!


How are your predictions going these days?

For those following the World Series, all predictions of a Detroit or Baltimore versus Washington World Series are long forgotten as the unlikely tandem of Kansas City – Kansas City? Really? – and San Francisco (back for the third time in five years) take the field tonight.

For any gearing up for the NHL season, the airwaves are rife with predictions. Talk radio and cable shows are filled with panels of analysts telling us whether Ovechkin will flourish with a new coach or if Edmonton will blow up their roster if they don’t start winning soon.

My thought? Call them unpredictable. Sure, it’s fun to predict, then see if we are correct, or have to eat humble pie.

We live in a time of over-analysis where predictions are the norm. Predictions are simply expectations made with whatever facts are at our disposal. These facts are mixed with a liberal amount of hope and guesswork.

Next Monday’s municipal elections will reveal whose predictions were correct about the local elections, especially the Toronto mayoralty race. When asked last evening what they would do if they lost the race, each said they would not lose. Fair to say two of those contenders were wrong.

As for the voters? Call them unpredictable. And watch the results.

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014


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“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (.).


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