The strange places my thoughts take me…. The following developed as I was thinking about sneakers….

Is there a happy medium between setting your expectations too high and settling for something mediocre?

For example… you’re probably aware of my hunt for the perfect sneaker. I’ve got a pretty detailed picture of it in my mind: a classic indoor soccer shoe with gum rubber soles and navy blue or tan suede uppers. In size 3.5.

Now, from my hours and hours of searching on the internet, I’ve become fairly convinced that this shoe does not currently exist. It has existed in the past, and probably will exist at some point. But it isn’t being sold right now. I have several pairs of sneakers (yes, several), that I am not happy with. But they are functional – though rather shabby looking and not as comfortable as they once were. So I don’t absolutely HAVE to have new sneakers right this minute. I could wait until either the right shoes are available or my current sneakers totally wear out. OR I could settle on some shoes that are similar to my ideal, but not the exact perfect specimen.

Obviously, the size is something I can’t compromise on. They have to fit. But other things, like the style & color & type of sole… how essential will they be to my overall satisfaction with the shoe? Might I find that I enjoy a different style? Maybe having a white sole, or black suede wouldn’t bother me that much. Or would I put them on every day and wish that I had something else? Would I just start looking at different shoes in a few months because I’m unhappy with the ones I bought?

You may think this is incredibly silly – these are shoes, girl, get over it! But for someone who is as intense as I tend to be, these kinds of decisions are a big deal. And it kind of makes me wonder about other decisions… ones I find even harder than selecting shoes.

Is it ever necessary to settle? What if my expectations are unreasonable? Am I going to regret waiting too long? Or will I regret not holding out for the best?

How does this play out when it comes to choosing an apartment? Or buying a car? Or getting a job? Or even getting married? How much weight do I place on my preferences and expectations? Am I limiting myself by silly details? Or would it be wrong to give up on my hopes for the absolute best thing?

Drage asked me once if I felt it was necessary that I find my career fulfilling. Could I be just as happy with a job that simply pays the bills? Most people have that type of job… and we absolutely need people to do the mundane and unfulfilling jobs that keep the world running. So, is it a fantasy for me to dream that a job exists out there that would make me feel excited to get up and go to work every day?

I read an article in a Christian magazine that addressed the idea of the soul mate:

“Nothing has produced more unhappiness than the concept of a soul mate.” That’s the opinion of Atlanta psychiatrist Frank Pittman in the March 2004 issue of Psychology Today. For the article “Great Expectations,” Polly Shulman interviewed Pittman and several other marriage experts who are concerned that the growing expectation for a perfect match is frustrating singles needlessly and threatening their chances of a satisfying marriage.

…In her article, Shulman warns that because few partnerships can live up to the soul mate ideal, “the result is a commitment limbo, in which we care deeply for our partner but keep one stealthy foot out the door of our hearts.” – from Boundless Magazine

This article seems to say that our expectations for a marriage partner are too high. In the last hundred years or so, people have changed their idea of what marriage is about. The idea of a lifelong “companion” with whom you can simply get along and work with, has been upgraded to the idea of the soulmate who “completes” you and gives your life meaning.

Is that a bad thing? I have no idea. Are our expectations too high? Who knows. But I think it does make us wary of making commitments – to anything: any job, any church, any person, any place, even any pair of shoes. Maybe it’s a by-product of our consumer culture. Or maybe it’s a response to a God-given desire for the best. But I’m not entirely convinced that I know what the best is… or if I’ll recognize it when I see it. But all I have to say, is it better be navy blue with gum-rubber soles!