Expectation Vs Expectancy

Host Audio - Katie Thompson
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Guest Audio - Katie Thompson
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Expectation and Expectancy; these words often get used in the same context, but when you understand the words they carry such different meaning and attitude.


Consider the word expectancy, the dictionary describes it as; the state of thinking or hoping that something, especially something good, will happen.

It is a word that is alive and dynamic and full of possibility. It carries an air of freedom and everything that comes from an attitude of expectancy is actually a gift.  


Picture a child going to the zoo for the first time, there is excitement and wonder and a sense of awe… “Mum, I wonder what we’ll see?” This is expectancy. There is no prior experience to draw from so there are no expected outcomes. Therefore whatever she sees will be a gift and bring freedom and joy to the experience.


Some might call this expectation, but expectation is different. Expectation means there is; a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. When expectation enters the picture there is already an idea of what might happen.


A child going to the zoo for the second time will definitely go with expectation. She may have seen a baby giraffe the last time she was there so there might be an expectation that she will see the baby again. But what she doesn’t consider is that 3 years have passed and the baby giraffe isn’t a baby anymore. She heads straight to the giraffe enclosure and scans the landscape for the baby that she remembers so clearly. But there’s no baby giraffe anymore, slowly her expectation turns to disappointment. Next time she goes to the zoo she brings that disappointment with her, “Last time I was here I saw a baby, this time it just wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be”  


Expectation; there isn’t a lot of wonder and awe attached to it is there?


Expectation can often be a silent offender, an unspoken thought or attitude.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you knew you just couldn’t please the other person? No matter what you do or how hard you tried, they just weren’t happy? Chances are, that person carried some expectation into the relationship. And until it’s either identified or spoken, it’s not going away. They are expecting you to behave or respond in a particular way but if you don’t know what that is then you can’t ever meet their expectation and therefore they’re always going to carry around that disappointment. It’s like a dead weight hanging around their neck!

In his book The Shack, Paul Young writes;

"If you and I are friends, there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship. When we see each other or are apart, there is expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking. That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift, shared by no one else. But what happens if I change that 'expectancy' to an expectation- spoken or unspoken? Suddenly, law has entered into our relationship. You are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations. Our living friendship rapidly deteriorates into a dead thing with rules and requirements. It's no longer about you and me, but about what friends are supposed to do, or the responsibilities of a good friend.”


Approaching life with an expectant attitude requires a deliberate approach. It means looking for where the expectation has crept in and replacing it with a more expectant attitude.

Being open to what might come from a situation rather than having it all mapped out in our head and then feeling like we need to manipulate a situation to get to the expected outcome.

There is such freedom to be found with an attitude of expectancy, life has the potential to be more dynamic and enjoyable. Next time you feel expectation creeping in, try thinking or hoping that something, especially something good, will happen. Be That woman who chooses an attitude of expectancy.