Last year at this time, I experienced one of my life’s biggest disappointments. The sting of that disappointment went so deep that I am still not comfortable talking about the details. Upon first hearing the news, I was crushed. I went from a Happy Hopeful to a Humpty Dumpty in a matter of moments. A line from my journal describes my feelings best: “I don’t know how I will ever be able to continue on.”
I am amazed at how much my perspective has changed in one short year. I can’t explain it exactly, but I am restored. I never got what I wanted, yet I am able to hope again, to feel again, to live again. The comfort I have received is supernatural. Somehow, I able to move on and I am unexplainably better off for having been through this.
As a I reach this anniversary of sorts, I thought I would take this opportunity to share a few things about dealing with disappointment:
HOW TO DEAL WITH DISAPPOINTMENT
1. Mourn the loss.
When we are disappointed, it is because we have experienced a loss of some kind. Loss of a dream. Loss of a hope. Loss of a job. Loss of a relationship. Whether real or imagined, the loss is felt in our hearts. Yet instead of acknowledging the feelings of loss and allowing ourselves to mourn, we are tempted to believe that feeling disappointment means that we aren’t trusting God.
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8
To ‘pour out your heart’ to God means to ‘sprawl out, and to pour out in tears and complaints’. Trusting Him when you are disappointed includes trusting Him enough to tell Him how you feel. God is our refuge, a safe place. He empathizes with our feelings (see Hebrews 4:15). In fact, He mourns with us.
When Martha’s brother Lazarus died, she was disappointed that Jesus hadn’t come to heal him. She lost her brother. She mourned. And despite Jesus knowing that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He mourned with her. We all know the verse: Jesus wept (see John 11:33-35). Why would He mourn when He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead? I believe it was because He sees our heartbreak and it breaks His. He walks through our disappointments with us. He mourns with us because mourning is part of the process.
2. Stop mourning.
Ha! This might seem confusing, but the first step is to mourn, and the second is to stop mourning. Let me explain. Although disappointment is felt when we reach AN end, disappointment is not THE end. We may have experienced a loss, but that loss doesn’t mean we lose. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Matthew 5:4. Allow Christ to comfort you.
You may not be able to see a future where you could be happy again, feel alive again, love again, trust again, etc… but that doesn’t mean you never will. Christ puts Humpty Dumpty hearts together again even when all the king’s men cannot. God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever. That means He is your strength and your portion amidst disappointment.
You may have lost something that you believed was the pinnacle to your happiness in some way. You may feel you will never be the same again. Last year, I felt the same way. The truth is I am not the same. Just like a mother after a c-section, I still have a few scars, but the hope that has been birthed in me is worth it. In my case, the resurrection of hope was not a resurrection of the hoped-for outcome, but rather of hope in God. And here is the good news: my hope in God was restored to me by Christ alone. It wasn’t something I had to conjure up, it was something I was enabled to receive by grace.
If you allow Him, God will restore you. Restore trust. Restore joy. Restore peace. Restore hope. Your disappointment is not the end.
“My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
“I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, creating praise on their lips.” Isaiah 57:18b-19
“And the God all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”1 Peter 5:10