Dealing with Disappointment (edited repost)

disappointedSometimes life is disappointing. We can do everything we know to do and hold on to
everything we believe to be true, but sometimes people will let us down, or our plans won’t work out, or the thing that seemed so perfect suddenly becomes abundantly imperfect. It’s part of the
human experience… dealing with the unplanned, uninvited moments when we’re left wondering why we dared to hope.

Here are a few things I’ve gleaned from disappointment that I hope will help you survive disappointment with your soul intact.

1.Disappointment is an effective teacher. Don’t waste the experience.  Glean from it perspective or truth that inevitably hides inside every maddening moment of disappointment.

2. Disappointment does not make you a fool. It just doesn’t. You wanted to believe the best and that’s a good thing. Don’t lose that adventurous spirit. You’ll need it to carry on.

3. Disappointment does not make everyone else a fool. People are flawed and so are you. Don’t let a chip on your shoulder rob you from the experience of being able to extend grace.

4. Most disappointments aren’t even about us… they’re about our expectations. We can’t control life, but we can examine whether or not our expectations are realistic.

5. We are not defined by our disappointments. That said, experiences that dash our hopes can be defining moments. We can either shrink away from
really living because of some person or circumstance we couldn’t have changed anyway, or we can let the experience build our determination to be a person who can be counted on.

6. Disappointment makes heaven sweeter. When you live on a fallen planet with human beings, things are going to get messed up, even among good people. When that reality comes crashing down, imagine the day when you will fall into the arms of God with the relief that comes from knowing you finished the race well.  In heaven, there will be no disappointment. Count on that.

7. Expressing the pain of your disappointment through art, music, writing or other creative works can be therapeutic and, ironically, can produce the most inspired, passionate work you will ever do. Instead of fighting the pain, capture it creatively and it might actually help others!  At the risk of sounding opportunistic, I have friends who did this and wrote award-winning books and/or songs. Go figure!

8. Don’t be sucked in by the blame game. We can point fingers all day long when we’ve lost our faith in someone or something, but placing blame is not conducive to healing. Spewing venom about who is “most” to blame is unfruitful, fuels frustration and hinders us from moving on.

9. Dealing with disappointment is disheartening; but it’s especially devastating if your sense of well-being rests in the hands of other
people or circumstances. I urge you to not to give people or circumstances that kind of power over you. They can’t handle it and neither can your heart.

10. All the disappointment in the world cannot change God’s nature. He knows how much we can handle and He uses difficult circumstances to shape us in ways that nothing else could have. His love drives everything and can heal anything. Anything!

As much as I hope you will never need this little disappointment management guide, life will most likely deal you a harsh blow before it’s over (unless you’re reading this from Heaven.. and if you are, please comment below because I’ve got some questions!)

Disappointment never feels good, but faith is not about how we feel… it’s about Who we trust. Trials tend to blaze a path through which we become more purified and more prepared to face whatever lies ahead.

Who knows? Some disappointments might happen just so we can “trade up” to a better plan… perhaps the one that was meant for us all
along.

Update on the “jerk” I’m forgiving!

Okay, you are NOT going to believe this.  Remember the last post where I documented the process of choosing to forgive someone who wronged my husband and me? As a sheer act of my will, each time “the jerk” has come to mind since that day, I’ve prayed that he would experience a taste of God’s grace… that, maybe for the first time ever, he would get an undeniable glimpse of God’s love for him.

Well… we learned yesterday that probably the very week I started praying for him, he nearly lost his life to an illness we didn’t know he was battling.  A friend of ours spoke to him this week and the guy told him that his organs had actually begun to shut down and he almost lost his life, but he is okay now.

I’ll admit that a tiny, evil part of me entertained the question, “Did this con-artist fabricate this ‘death bed’ story so all the people he has wronged might feel some shred of sympathy for him?”  But then I confessed my cynicism and reminded myself that the God to Whom I surrendered my anger and my desire for justice is the same God who parted the Red Sea and healed lepers, and has loved and redeemed more “jerks” than I’ll ever know (myself included).

The fact that this man is experiencing another chance at life might just mean that my prayers for him are being heard and answered with eerie accuracy.  So…bottom line… I’m going to keep praying for him.  This is powerful stuff.

Forgiving a Jerk.

I usually don’t have trouble forgiving people.  That’s what I thought, anyway.  This past weekend I was reminded of wounds someone inflicted on my husband and me over a year ago. Turns out, the situation has been eating at me a lot more than I realized.

One of my best qualities is the ability to see a problem (or person) from various points of view.  And one of my worst qualities is looking at a problem (or person) from every vantage point except my own, without acknowledging my own feelings. Correction. Without acknowledging my anger.

I can come up with dozens of other words to describe a negative emotions other than the “a” word.  I might be frustrated.  Or concerned.  I might even be sad, worried, disheartened, hurt, negatively impacted, misunderstood… on and on… But “angry” sounds like it’s my problem.

Well… newsflash.  It is my problem. (See why I don’t like owning this stuff?? It feels really bad!)

Thanks to a timely message last Sunday, I dared to look at my anger over this wrong-doing.  This jerk ripped us off.  Bad.  It was not inadvertent or an unfortunate parting of ways in which both parties could admit wrong.  This was a crooked person who did a crooked thing and my life was impacted in many ways because of it. I was most angry at what the situation did to my husband, who had already had a year filled with disappointments and abandonment on a number of fronts.  But make no mistake, I was mad for myself, too.

It was unforgivable. This fact, of course, meant I must forgive him. I just didn’t feel like it. What’s worse is…I know very well this jerk is not sorry. AT ALL. This is how he operates.  He will never ask forgiveness or make it right (apart from a genuine miracle).  He will certainly never know, or care, how his carelessness impacted me or the people I love.

I enjoy forgiving when a person is sorry. But when they don’t care, it takes an entirely different level of character to even think about forgiveness.

Be it ever-so-clear, I will never forget.  And I will not ever risk anything on this person’s word again.  I’ll never enter into a contractual agreement with him because he doesn’t honor contracts. But regardless of all of that, forgiveness must happen.

I wrote his name down.  Then, figuratively in my heart and actually in real-life, set his name down, walked away and never looked back.  I left him and all his wrongdoing in God’s hands. I even entrusted my anger about it to God.  I also walked away from my desire to reserve a little pocket of angst for the other people he hurt, and there were many.

It’s a process.  I’m not feeling any warmth toward this forgivee. Based on past experience, this may come in time. But as a matter of trust in a God who is both merciful and just, I really don’t want to take back the job of judge. This, by the way, isn’t a step I’m taking for the guy, but for myself and for God. It’s a burden He didn’t equip me to carry because He wants to bear it for me.

I’m trying to pray for the jerk.  By that, I mean I’m trying to pray something other than, “God, give him what he deserves.” I’m attempting to pray that God will reveal His love to this person who I’m quite sure has never experienced His redeeming love.

I’m not as trusting of people as I once was. Maybe that’s not all bad if it means my trust is placed more squarely on Christ alone.

There is something powerful about admitting, “Yes, I’m angry,” and choosing forgiveness anyway.  If you have someone like this in your life, believe me… a sense of release doesn’t come before the choice to forgive those who use us and hurt us, and pray for them.

The truth will set you free. And the truth is… forgiving a jerk is right, even if it goes against ever emotion you’ve got. And it probably will.

When Faith Doesn’t Feel Like Faith (Re-post)

pain“Faith” sounds so strong and sure.  It’s one of those terms that, for many, conjurs up images of heroic bravery.  But when you hit a rough patch in life, and we all do, faith suddenly takes on a different tone.  The natural emotions that go along with things like: a hurting child, a diagnosis, a loss, a financial drought, a relationship that just isn’t getting better, and a million other circumstances, somehow make the idea of having “faith” pretty muddy.

I used to admire people who faced life crises with a smile that implied that they’re really fine because they “have faith”.  But the longer I live, the more I have to believe that putting our arms around the concept of faith does not automatically remove us from the pain and disappointment life brings. Thank God, faith isn’t about feeling.  It isn’t even about us.  It’s about an unchanging God who really, really (REALLY) loves us enough to let us process the pain and disappointment while keeping us drawn to His side through it all.

I don’t believe for one moment that denial honors the Savior who mourned over our sin and literally gave his lifeblood to redeem it.  He is stronger than sin.  So I am confident He can handle our emotions – the anger, the sadness, the guilt, the questions – ALL of them, because he has felt all those same feelings (yes,  even  guilt… because He carried OURS).

I’ve heard a million times, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.. the evidence of things not seen…” (Hebrew 11:1)  But what’s easy to forget is that HE is that substance.  Not some little human feeling that we conjur up …or fail to conjur up, in many cases.  If drawing near Him in crisis doesn’t feel all warm and gooey, I have a hard time believing that means our faith isn’t good enough or big enough.  I even wonder if maybe it’s the strongest faith of all that can  literally crawl to Him and say… “I don’t get this.  So just hold me.”  To really have “faith” in an Almighty God, I can’t imagine we would be required to clean up our feelings and put them in a tightly sealed box that looks neat but is brimming with resentment or uncried tears.

Faith that truly trusts in His character is bold enough to ask hard questions… to be honest about our pain… and to know that our human range of emotions will never, NEVER shock Him into withholding His love from us.  He has seen and felt it all.   Authentic faith, I believe, has enough confidence in Him to be completely transparent… knowing He isn’t going anywhere.

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