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  • Disappointed



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I’ve heard it said that the distance between what you expected, and what you experienced, is called anger. The wider the gap, the greater the anger. We each express our anger in different ways. My kids cry, I might sigh, and still others yell or write a strongly worded note or facebook post. However our anger surfaces or stays hidden, the fact remains: we’ve been disappointed. What we hoped would happen didn’t and now we feel hurt.

I really want things to go well. It has been my long-term quiet pursuit to make things beautiful, welcoming, hopeful, peaceful, joyful and so much more. I’ve discovered that these hopes can become dashed by the cross purposes of others. When plans are crushed, so might our best responses. Cynicism is the bedfellow of disappointment. Disappointment, left un-tended, can yield bitterness and resentment. Full of disappointment, we may come to believe that all people and all circumstances will let us down, and we stop believing that goodness might exist anywhere around us. We hurt and then we hide.

Yet it is in the facing of my disappointment that I’m learning to stay with it, and with others. If your light is small, go into a darker space, they say. If the world around you is disappointing, then you might be close to something that needs your care and special attention.

When we moved into our new home, I felt the drop of disappointment. We love gardening and I looked out over our new neighbourhood and my own yard to see nothing but construction and gravel. It wasn’t green and there were few people. I felt it. 

Perhaps you feel it too, sometimes. Maybe disappointment and even cynicism is lurking in yourself towards your work, your home, your summer vacation, your friends, your banker, or your grocery store. Maybe you expected more and experienced less. It’s no fun. Gossip, rage, or lashing out might feel like it will solve the disappointment, but in the end, it often doesn’t. 

Is there another way? My own journey into the story of Jesus has helped me a lot in this area. In Jesus I see someone who embraced others and opened himself to being disappointed by them. I’m learning about the gentle patience needed to walk into disappointment and to love those who are bound to disappoint me, too. I’m taking risky chances to say sorry when I learn that I’ve disappointed others, and I’m giving myself the kind of mercy it seems God is giving me, and those around me.

Whatever great chasm exists between what you hoped for and what you got, know that you’re on the right path if you can honestly look at your disappointment and name it for what it is. Then, without blaming others or beating yourself up, reflect on whether you’ll let this harden you towards others and your future, or prepare you to love and be loved again. It seems there is no quick fix to handling our disappointment; but the journey towards loving in the midst of disappointment, I’m discovering, is truly the better way.