Imagine turning all of the needed forms in to your tax guy, thinking that maybe you’ll get a small bit back, and finding out you owe upwards of $5,000 to the government. I wish this was a hypothetical situation… but it was not. It was our reality this year and to say we were disappointed would be understating it. Add this to the tornado that is Covid, and the weight of the disappointments grow.
Disappointments come in all shapes and sizes: big prominent ones, or small ones that stack up; ones that require all of your attention and ones that float somewhere in your subconscious. Some are placed upon you, factors outside of your control, while others are within you. Sometimes situations fail you, and sometimes it’s people.
Either way, the most difficult disappointments often come from the most realistic expectations.
You just wanted you husband/wife to acknowledge your anniversary. You thought you raised your teen better than that. You were so committed and made such great food choices the first few days of the week, so what happened? You saved for SO long to take a break with your family, and there it went. You thought you had more time to say how much you loved them before they were gone and now your heart feels empty without them.
So how do we handle these “non-fulfillments of our hopes and expectations”?
There’s five things I do when faced with disappointment, maybe they’ll help you along the way also.
Trust God’s plan. You acknowledge your trust in God and His sovereignty. His wisdom and plan is far too great for us to know. His goodness was given through Jesus on the cross and it continues to be with you in the face of every disappointment. As you’re walking through the hard stuff, instead of asking God “why” try asking Him “what”. What does He have for you in this? What is He going to use this for? What is the lesson to be learned?
Lean on your people. You must have community with whom you can process these disappointments. When we keep the hard to ourselves, it has a way of growing and taking over like storm clouds in a previously sunny sky. The struggle seems bigger and heavier when you’re trying to carry it alone. Share the burden with people who love you and do life with you.
Choose gratitude. I also want you to search – and sometimes it’s on your hands and knees with a magnifying glass – to find things in your life to be grateful for. It should be as small as a warm cup of coffee or your kiddo getting out of bed without a fight. These simple things are like sparkles stuck in your carpet; you would not otherwise notice them unless you shined light directly on them. Seek out and shine a light on the blessings, even in the midst of the chaos.
Weigh the gravity. Look at this struggle with the rule of 10 in mind. Is it going to matter in 10 minutes? 10 days? 10 months? What about 10 years? Let the gravity of the situation determine the energy you give the response. If it’s a small thing, you accept it and move on. If it’s a bigger thing, give it the time it deserves. Sit with it and take your time processing through it.
Give and receive grace. This last thing is incredibly important- give yourself and the people around you, some dang grace as you walk through these things! Show compassion to yourself. Life is HARD. Disappointments can feel like your world is caving in. The weight of the missed expectation can prove heavier than the strength you have. So show yourself some care in the midst of the journey. We are all a work in progress.
Disappointments are part of life. We can’t avoid them. But we can process through them with more grace and fluidity.