Accepting Disappointment

Disappointment is described in the following way.

Disappointment is the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest. Similar to regret, it differs in that a person feeling regret focuses primarily on the personal choices that contributed to a poor outcome, while a person feeling disappointment focuses on the outcome itself. It is a source of psychological stress. …disappointment is one of two primary emotions involved in decision-making.

Disappointment is defined as the state or feeling of being disappointed.

I think we’ve all been disappointed and know what it feels like.  But, in the event that you, dear reader, have not and are unaware of what it is to be disappointed or experience disappointment (or, to cause disappointment in another), here’s the definition of disappoint.

To disappoint is to fail to fulfill the expectations of – to defeat the fulfillment of (hopes, plans, etc)

If you were to Google “coping with disappointment” you would reap a tremendous harvest of self-help advice – some good, some not so good.

What’s my advice for dealing with disappointment?

  • Acknowledge it for what it is.
  • Gain wisdom from the experience.
  • Let it go.
  • Move on.
  • Live in the light of the wisdom gained.
  • Keep expectations real and hold disappointment loosely.
  • Eagerly release either for the betterment of self or others.

Disappointment is a fact of life. So are expectations.

When was the last time you were disappointed, or caused disappointment in another?

Were you able to navigate safely through it without frustration…anger…depression…?

What do you do when disappointment comes your way?

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A Near Miss

For the first time in a long time, I almost missed posting here.  In fact, it was 9 pm yesterday when I finally sat down to finish a post I had begun the day before.

It would have been all too easy to just let yesterday be a no post day.  Few would have noticed. And, less would have cared.

But, I would have known.

And, if I’d not posted, I would have disappointed myself…would have let myself down.

Disappointing others is one thing.  Disappointing myself is another.

Others may have plans and agendas for me, expectations and ideas of who they want me to be and how. But, they don’t really know me or what God is doing in my life and through me.  They don’t know the disciplines necessary if I’m to become.

I know.

John Ortberg said: “I am disappointed with myself. I am disappointed not so much with the particular things I have done as with the aspects of who I have become. I have a nagging sense that all is not as it should be.”  (The Life You’ve Always Wanted)

See Stop Help

When our neighbor stopped last Sunday to see if she could help, one thing she said was, “When I saw you pushing the car I said to myself, ‘Hey!  I know those people! I’ve gotta stop and see what I can do to help!”

It was such a blessing to know that we weren’t alone in our plight. There was nothing our neighbor could do for us…apart from what she did. She cared. She saw, stopped and offered help.

See. Stop. Offer help.  Five cars passed us as we pushed our car.  Only one stopped.

One out of five.

If you had passed us broken down and pushing our load, would you have stopped to see if you could help in some way? Would you have acknowledged our situation?  seen our need?

Would you have been that ONE in five who stopped?  Or, would you have been in one of the four cars that passed us and went on?

You see…I recognized the four cars that drove past us.  I see and wave to the drivers of each every day on my walks through our neighborhood.

One in five stopped. There was nothing she could offer apart from making a phone call. She couldn’t fix the car and couldn’t help us push it. But, her care and concern strengthened us for the task and in our bond as neighbors.

Our neighbor offered what she could.  And, that was enough.

Often, we are reluctant to offer help because we are afraid.

Afraid? Yes – of getting involved…of becoming responsible…of being used and abused…of taking on troubles that aren’t ours…of coming off as unconcerned/uncaring because we can’t fix the problem…of disappointing the expectations of others….

See. Stop.  Help.

I can only do what I can do – I can do no more.  The same is true with you.  Our limitations shouldn’t stop us from acknowledging the situation and need of others – and offering, “What can I do to help?”

Asking the question doesn’t roll the problem onto our shoulders.  It just opens the door to the possibility of us contributing, perhaps in some small way, to the solution.

“I’ll do what I can.”  Often our ability to help is limited.

But, our limits shouldn’t be seen as inabilities – we do what we can, when we can with what we have.  Our resources and abilities may change with time and circumstance. What we can’t do today, may become can do tomorrow.

Remember this – a person’s inability to do for us what we want or need shouldn’t in any way have a bearing on how we feel about that individual or the relationship we have with them. I can only do what I can do.  The same is true with you.  My limitations ebb and flow with time and circumstance. So do yours.

If I’ve disappointed you by not meeting all the needs you have, that makes me sad but it’s not my problem or my bad. I can only do what I can do.  If I’ve known of your need and not offered to do what I can to help you, then I need to apologize to you and ask your forgiveness.

And, if I see you broken down by the side of the road, I’ll stop and offer what help I can, even if it’s only to sit with you until more substantial help arrives.

I hope you will do the same for me. 😉

Disappointment

Disappointment.

That’s a word wrapped in emotion, isn’t it.

The Bible says disappointment (delay of hope) makes the heart sick.

What do you do when you hope so long and so hard for something and when it appears that you are on the cusp of receiving…your hopes, along with your heart, are dashed to pieces?

I tend to second guess self worth and value.

There’s a sense of betrayal, hurt and anger.  Confusion about ‘what next’ churns up realities and relationships in the struggle to find footing…to right self…to calm the emotional storm…to get on with life.

How often do we say,

  • “Things didn’t go as I’d hoped.”
  • “That was a disappointment.”
  • “I had so wanted….”
  • “My heart is broken…”
  • “There’s no hope….”

Disappointment.

It’s heart breaking. It’s mood swinging.  It’s depressing. It’s loss – absolute and utter loss.

When hope is lost, what else is there?

It’s also life changing.

Disappointment provides opportunity to take a close look at what it was we desired, and why.

Disappointment sheds bitter tears.

And, after the tears, it gives us a reason to change direction and desire.

Disappointment can give rise to clarity – of vision, of purpose, of self – and of others – as we ask ourselves important questions.

  • Why did I desire it?  And, why did I pour my heart into the desire to obtain it?
  • Did I lead myself into desiring something I shouldn’t have, or was I misled by something or someone else?

When we place our hope in people, things or events, we are going to be disappointed. We need to read the words of David and hope in the One who will not…cannot disappoint us when we place our hope in him – in God alone.

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. Psalm 42:11 (New American Standard Version)

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.  Proverbs 13:12 (English Standard Version)

Fake Flowers and Butterflies

It was a beautiful, sunny, late summer day – perfect for cleaning off Dad’s marker and pulling grass from around it.

Mom had wanted to place new flowers on his grave for his birthday.  We couldn’t have asked for more cooperative weather.

As we drove through the cemetery, I looked out over the flat, rolling grounds.  The green grass was marked at regular intervals by flowers atop brown grave markers.

Even from a distance, I could tell the flowers were artificial.  They had a decidedly fake look to them. Most were faded and weather worn.

As I drove toward Dad’s grave, I wondered who declared it a good idea to “plant” artificial flowers on top of dead people.

Everywhere I looked I saw flowers…fields of flowers…fake flowers.

Our arrival at Dad’s grave quieted my musing.  Dad’s grave with his bunch of flowers atop it awaited our approach. As I exited the car and walked around to assist Mom, a flicker of movement caught my eye.

A large Mourning Cloak butterfly fluttered erratically about, then hovered over an arrangement of large yellow flowers.

I watched as it touched down and then lifted off immediately. The flower had fooled the butterfly and offered it nothing.

I wondered how many times the butterfly had landed on fake flowers, expecting to enjoy a meal and finding nothing but emptiness and disappointment.

As I looked around, I realized she could go from flower to flower to flower and spend her entire brief life finding nothing real, nothing of benefit, nothing that offered sustenance. As far as I could see, there were no real, live flowers.

None.

I wonder…am I artificial or am I real in what I offer those around me?  Do I draw people in with the assumption that I have something to offer because I sound real and look real, but am so fake…so artificial that I have nothing to give?

What of the things you and I follow after?  Are they real?  Do they offer things that will sustain us and enable us to move forward in growth? Or, do they offer little more than a passing fling with something that looked good?

And, what of yourself?  Are you like the butterfly, thirsting for that which quenches your thirst and finding only dry emptiness and disappointment?  What a sad existence – going from fake flower to fake flower and dying without ever finding that which has power to sustain life.

Or, perhaps you are like the fake flower.  You look good, attractive and inviting – but there’s nothing about you that provides nourishment or gives hope to those who are attracted to you.  You’re dry and lifeless – artificial…a shell of what you should and could be.

Whether butterfly or fake flower – hope is found in Jesus.

Disappointment Wilts Hope

Early in the season, I purchased a large, robust (and blooming) potted tomato plant.

My intent was obvious: obtain a ripe tomato as soon as possible.  The plant was labeled “for container or garden” and was one of the Better Boy varieties of tomatoes.

I also purchased several seedling tomato plants.

In total I planted 13 tomatoes into the garden plot.

The large plant settled into the ground and appeared to be doing well.  Quite well, in fact.  It wasn’t long before I noticed little tomatoes on it.  The small plants struggled to gain roots – and I noticed several had been clipped to only two inches tall by the incisors of some tomato eating rodent…rabbit or squirrel.

I was careful to water the tomato plants, filling milk jugs that had been placed into the ground between the plants (bottom removed) to deliver water to the roots and not just to the base of the plants.

The garden looked healthy.  Things were growing according to schedule.

I could already taste those ripe tomatoes.

One morning I went out to check the garden after a night of heavy rain and was dismayed to find the large tomato plant appeared wilted.

Odd, especially considering the amount of rain we had received.  It had looked fine the evening prior and showed no signs of anything amiss.

I pressed down on the ground around the plant and it felt solid and firm.

As the day progressed and the sun bore down hot upon it, the tomato plant withered more.

In the days that followed, I did everything I could think of to break the wilt cycle.  Nothing worked. My hope wilted along with the plant.

And, now, a full week later I have made the decision to remove the still wilted plant from the garden and dispose of it as well as the dirt around the roots.  The green tomatoes (almost half the size of my hand) show black rot on the bottoms.

It’s with sadness and disappointment that I bid the favored plant farewell.

And, it is with renewed awareness that it is not I who controls what produces and when.  That belongs to Another.  I am simply the gardener, not the grower.