The dictionary describes disappointment as “sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfilment of one’s hopes or expectations”. I define disappointment as “one big fat down”. Like this annoying nagging cramp in my side that doesn’t want to go away. Can you relate?
Disappointment is a nasty thing, because it takes the joy of expectation and wades it through the mud of what could be and what should have been leaving us with a mess to clean up that we sure did not ask for. I have struggled with this emotion because it feels like it is sitting on my shoulders and I don’t often find the resolve within me to shake it off as quickly as I should.
(Is it just me?)
We have all felt it. Whether you have lost a job, experienced an early miscarriage, arrived to purchase something to see it’s been sold, felt rejected by friends, or had someone close forget your birthday (I am big on birthdays so this one seems to get me every time ha ha)- you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say this D- word is like a cloud that can discolour the very abundance we were anticipating. Disappointment is grey. (No wait- I like grey) Disappointment is beige. It just lurks around causing pain,shame and confusion. So beige is an apt way to describe this unwelcome feeling.
I’ve recently experienced a range of things that have caused me to live with a nagging sense of disappointment. Some areas of my life just aren’t going as I hoped they would. My plans are being messed with. Relationships have felt challenged. Friends are facing extremely serious things. And as I’ve contemplated the past couple of weeks I’ve realised that my perspective is being manipulated. And I think this has left me feeling hard done by and ungrateful in moments. Two things I categorically do not want to be.
So in a moment on my carpet, as I persevered to hear God’s reason in my unreasonable state of disappointment I heard that voice that I know all to well whisper into my let down heart. (This is the impression of what I felt the Holy Spirit saying into my heart- give or take and of course the emphasis is all mine)
“Your problems aren’t going away Tes, not in your time frame. Disappointment will grow, quickly, if you let it. So look to all you have and start listing the good things in your life and all the extremely good things that could come of “your” messed up plans. Shift your attention off yourself and onto the Father, who He is, and you will find perspective amidst your disappointment.”
So here goes. It’s a little unconventional but this is how I scraped myself off the carpet that day.
Perspective. I went looking for perspective in the most extreme places I could. I searched for the good and was surprised by what I found.
My heart feels downcast.
But I do not live in Syria or Iraq. Where women are holding their dead babies that have been ravaged and destroyed by a senseless and cruel war that has no real purpose. No. I live here. In Ballito. Amidst opulence and provision. In the very heart of what most of humanity would term paradise. Where the beach is on my doorstep and my home is a sanctuary. Where my husband comes home with lavish gifts for me “just because”. So lift up your praise oh fragile heart because there is much to be thankful for.
My plans have been messed with.
But I am not watching my husband die from a disease there is no cure for yet. I am watching my husband run with freedom and passion after the things that make his heart come alive. I get to watch him thrive and grow and pioneer. And I get to be a part of his story. So I lift my eyes and smile because there is much to be thankful for.
My head is overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the future.
But I am not watching my children scavenge through acres of rubbish to find scraps of decaying food to eat. I watch my daughters dress up like princesses as they live out their innocent youth. I get to watch them pursue their dreams and enter gymnastics competitions. Sing in shows and laugh with their friends for hours as I drink perfectly made cups of tea. I get to choose what I will do with each day and survival is not my primary goal. So I lift up your voice and sing because there is so much to be thankful for.
I know this may seem heavy. (Maybe a little bit too heavy for a Monday) But to overcome my growing sense of disappointment I have willed myself to look at some of the atrocities people face and choose to see the bigger picture. To see the goodness and abundance that is my life and lift up my praise in response. And then to move on and take the energy I have left in me to figure out how I can help the world become better. To think of ways that I can make a difference? To love and reach out more in greater capacities? It’s amazing what happens when we shift our focus off of ourselves. Honestly it is just amazing. I went from disappointed with my life to grateful and willing to find ways to bring extreme change and love to the world in a matter of a few minutes.
Finding perspective is not about comparing pain and feeling “oh yah I’m glad it’s not me in that craziness”- it’s about believing, once more, that there is always good to be found. That I actually have it so so good. That I have something powerful and beautiful inside of me and if I choose to- I can leverage what I have to bring great love into the world. I may not fully “feel” this at times but I can not stay in a distracted place of disappointment. I will not. There is just too much at stake on the other side. Perspective causes me to be grateful and gratitude changes everything. It takes what we have and turns it into more than enough. Perhaps into something the world can use.
It’s crazy to think that I am (mostly) smiling as I write this. Smiling, not because it’s easy, but because when I stop to look and see the good I often find it. God is really good, better than I could even begin to think. I went looking for good again and in the looking I was not disappointed.