Surviving Disappointment

disappointment

Just in the past few weeks, an epidemic of disappointment has spread around me. In my life and in the lives of those I love, it has threatened to steal joy, extinguish dreams, and plant seeds of self-doubt. It seems the perfect time to consider weapons at our disposal to survive the inevitable force of disappointment.

Let me run down a few recent disappointments:

  • I received a “No” from an agent who seemed, for months, to be really interested.
  • A friend’s relationship ended due to circumstances out of her control.
  • Financial limitations left a friend unable to send her child to an annual summer camp.
  • My grandfather decided to cancel his skydiving trip to celebrate his 90th birthday, unable to ignore how his body is beginning to fail him.
  • Actions of a friend’s parents required her to step up as the responsible adult, having to put aside some of her own freedom.
  • A pastor for whom I work is laying in a hospital bed for the countless time in three years recovering from a condition that seems to have no cure.
  • Food poisoning struck my cousin and his family on the first night of their first trip to Walt Disney World.
  • My daughter is attending a summer childcare program while her dad and I work full-time while many of her friends are home for the break.

Disappointment is relative to our own experience. Some are easier to tolerate depending on the trajectory of our lives, what we’re accustomed to. Many are able to keep trucking, their calves strong from years of trudging through the thick mud of repetitive disappointment. Others fall into deep depression due to malfunctioning chemistry, lack of a support system, other destructive behavior, etc.

I have a tendency to feel sorry for myself when faced with disappointment. Thankfully, that lasts only a short time and I usually can see the light elsewhere. I’m not here to offer a Mary Poppins-style gentle knock on the chin with a spoon full of sugar. Life is hard. Resolution can come, but life won’t ever be perfect and without complications. As long as we live on this imperfect planet, there will be disappointment and heartache.

So, how do I propose we survive disappointment? I only have one piece of advice.

WE MUST STICK TOGETHER.

When you’re hurting, please reach out. Since no one is immune to disappointment, you’re not likely to be met with a response of “I don’t understand.” Lean into those who love you. If you’re like me, you are more than willing to be there for a friend or family member when they’re hurting. It’s an honor to step up and be encouraging and supportive. Don’t deny yourself the blessing of being on the other side.

I’m a big advocate for small groups. While it’s been tough for me to stay plugged in these last few years, I’ve found a few key women who have become my sounding boards. I know I can be real with them and they’ll be real with me. Some are writer friends, some are sisters in faith, some are co-workers who understand some of the daily grind frustrations.

Jesus surrounded himself with disciples whom I trust not only learned from him but also helped support him when his humanness made life hard. If Jesus needed a support system, there’s no shame in leaning on yours from time to time. It’s part of the human experience.

I admit to writing this post by the seat of my pants. My heart is heavy (not burdened) with the disappointments of a few friends. There’s certainly more to say on this topic. I hope you’ll continue the conversation with me in the comment section below. How do you deal with disappointment?

May I leave you with this comforting scripture?

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
Psalm 73:26 (NLT)


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6 thoughts on “Surviving Disappointment

  1. I’m truly sorry about the recent disappointments you’ve faced, Teresa.

    I draw some comfort from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If” –

    IF you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
    if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Like

  2. Teresa, I never thought about Jesus needing his disciples as a personal support group, but it does make perfect sense. They were more than just students of Christ, they were his friends and small group. Thank you for presenting this in a new light.

    Andrew, my favorite line in Kipling’s poem: if you can dream and not make dreams your master. Love it.

    Like

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