Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dealing with Disappointment

Let's be honest. We all get disappointed sometimes. I know, as Christians we are told and taught about joy and sufficiency and perspective and all of the words that describe our position in God's heart and His in ours. We are His and nothing can change that. But there is a little slice of our humanity that remains even after our salvation. The small percentage of our self that takes a look at a negative situation and causes us to hang our head and sigh. Because no matter how much we try, no matter how hard we try to perceive it and spin it and put it into a better perspective,  

 and even no matter how hard we pray, 

some outcomes are just not...good. 

This is dangerous territory I'm in. If you don't read carefully what I write carefully, we both may come away from this misled and misunderstood. But I think it is important enough to share, since I have been disappointed lately. 

My hopes were set on something, my trust given, and I allowed myself to be vulnerable only to have the outcome not be what I would have hoped for. In a kind-of big way. I'm not going to go into any more detail for a couple of reasons. I don't want to bring hurt to anyone and I wouldn't want to limit this to a specific situation. When forgiveness happens, which it has, one doesn't bring blame. It simply isn't productive, nor is it what this is about. 

This is about why we become disappointed. 

I am not a counselor. I say that often in this blog, partly for legal reasons and partly because I know I don't have all the answers and I don't want you to think that I think that I do. Only One has all of them and He is your Counselor. I do know, however, a few things after living on the planet for 56 years. So I want to outline three main reasons I think we, especially we Christians, experience disappointment. 

1. We create unrealistic expectations. 

Face it, we want our spouse to be successful, intelligent, attractive, and attentive at all times and also not to leave anything where it doesn't belong. We expect our children to have straight As, letter in all sports, be accomplished musicians, and have no cavities. We want our jobs to be fulfilling and we want the copier to never be "down." And we want church to be uplifting at all times with minimal effort from us because we want to serve but we DO NOT want the stress! And we want everything else to look EXACTLY like it looks on Pinterest. Every. Single. Time. 
Not gonna happen. Why? Here's an answer my sons are tired of hearing:

This isn't heaven. 

Did you get that? How can we expect perfection when there is NO WAY that it can be achieved on earth? We may get things right sometimes, but I assure you it can not and will not happen every time. Heaven happens in heaven. 

In addition, and mostly, we need to realize that we aren't in control. God is. Now we have free will given to us by Him, and we can decide to forgive, to be less demanding, to exhale just a bit and to loosen our grip on the steering wheel. Or we can continue to try to own the entire situation and make it come out just like we want- but is that really the best for us? We have no clue because we're not God and this, again, my friends, isn't heaven. As sad as it is to admit, things are sometimes not going to be fair.

How can that be, you ask? Simple: sin exists. And as long as there is sin, there will be disappointment. And the very best thing that you and I can do about it is pray for ourselves and others not to fall victim to sin and, when it does occur, to recognize it for what it is and ask for forgiveness and turn away from it. 

When you create an expectation of a situation or even of someone, you never take sin into account, do you? Sin is that variable that we cannot predict. Satan is always waiting to pounce. He is on the prowl 
(1 Peter 5:8and wants to devour us. You. Me. Sin is present in our lives, my sisters, and no one is immune. Not the Sunday School teacher or the waiter or even we who fail to give everything to God for Him to handle in His time and in His way. That lack of faith leads to our own control and our own ultimate disappointment. 

Someone very close to me once advised me to "lower my expectations." It was during a very stressful time at a job and many of the people I worked with were...stressing me out! They were individually behaving in ways that collectively were more than my mind or blood pressure could handle. Each morning, as I would walk in the door, I began to remind myself that I was expecting too much from these coworkers. And I was expecting too much from myself. 

You see, 


and then there's


All of us. Not some hierarchy that man has created. Yes, there are bosses and governments - there would be chaos without it. But we are all really the same in the eyes of our Lord and so we are wrong to expect anything better than human behavior from each other. Even if it disappoints us. Because in the end, He is and always will be, in control. Trust Him and only Him. 

Give it to God. Lay it down. Let it go. Daily, sometimes hourly. Put little reminders around the house. Have a friend remind you. 

Why? Keep reading. 

2. We doubt. 

Take your Bible and open it to what looks like the center. With most Bibles, this will land you smack in the middle of Psalms. Right there, in the center of the Word of God, is this huge roller coaster of emotions crying out to God in praise and anguish, in glory and fear, in jubilation and in doubt. 

A great deal of it written by none other than David. Aren't you thankful God used David in the way He did? An unassuming hero, an adulterer, a murderer, a king. If David, in all of his humanity, in his success and in his sin, could be loved so deeply by God that the Son of Man would come from David's line, don't you know that God has great things planned for us? 

Yet we doubt Him. We doubt each other. We doubt ourselves. 

So did Thomas. I mean, here was a guy who had traveled right alongside Jesus. He had eaten with Him, served with Him, and sat at His feet and actually listened to Him. But he needed proof. Jesus brought Himself to Thomas as that proof. Thomas saw the scars. Touched the hands. And he was forever changed. 
Read about Thomas here

Stop for a moment, next time you are doubting, and ask for Him to show Himself to you in a way that you can feel. I'm not saying that there will be an audible or visible sign, but I am saying that if you call on the Lord with honesty, He will draw near enough that you will know without any doubt He is right there in your pain, in your fear, and in your sadness. 

3. We refuse to try.

You've heard the saying, "Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it." The same can be said for us when we are disappointed: everyone is disappointed at some time in life- but are we doing anything about it? Stop complaining and get out there and make a difference. And, if your expectations simply aren't going to be met, then move on. Try something new. Reach that goal from a different path! Don't be afraid to change if it is what God is leading you to do! 

Do you think that God is any less of Himself when you change your mind? Is He going to love you any less or cut back on your blessings just because you decide to make a move in a different direction? Do you really think that's the kind of God we have? Of course you don't. 

The disappointment and offense that takes place when we are not welcomed or when we don't feel appreciated can sometimes lead to our turning away from church altogether. Hurt feelings and unkind words can linger for years and will build a wall that is very hard to break down. We cannot give up on God. We cannot give up on the Holy Spirit within us. And we cannot give up on our calling to serve and the commission to reach others. 

So whether you are disappointed with others or with yourself, try this: speak your disappointment to the Lord. Tell Him what is really hurting you. Seek His guidance in what to do-- then do it. But be sure to know that His answer may not come in your time but it will always come in His time. And it will always be perfect. 
And He will never disappoint you. Jeremiah 29:11

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