I think disappointment is one of the hardest negative emotions to manage.
Why? We all have expectations about how our life will be and it is so hard when life does not turn out as we expect.
I love this definition: “Disappointment- that let-down feeling when our emotions bottom out and our faith does too- is a powerful destructive force. It can leave us stuck in a painful moment through which we filter and even forfeit future experiences. It is a force we have to face and overcome to live a life full of faith embracing the unexpected.”
This definition comes from Christine Caine’s new book “Unexpected: Leave Fear Behind, Move Forward in Faith, Embrace the Future.” It is my favorite book she has written! There are so many nuggets of truth in this book; it is truly life changing. I highly recommend you reading it but I want to share with you about my favorite chapter of the book, “When the Unexpected Disappoints.”
We have all experienced that let down feeling described above. Some are big and some are small- check out this list Christine shares in the book and see if you have experienced any of them:
- Friends break their word.
- Our marriage ends.
- A colleague betrays us.
- Our kids don’t turn out like we hoped.
- We never have the child we longed for.
- We never find our soul mate.
- We don’t get the promotion.
- We lose our retirement fund.
- A dream turns into a nightmare.
- We disappoint ourselves by saying or doing something we regret.
As I read through this list, I can relate to some of them. Maybe you can too. I would say my greatest disappointment in my life is my marriage ending. Life did not turn out as I expected. I know first hand how much disappointment can hurt, leaving you feeling emotionally raw and heartbroken. Maybe you can relate to a different disappointment. You longed for a child and each month the pregnancy test showed a negative sign. You don’t understand why you cannot find your soul mate and are disappointed with being single much longer than you ever hoped. Perhaps your biggest unexpected circumstance is a medical diagnosis that left you not only disappointed but fearful too. All of these struggles hurt and leave us wondering why.
I think it is very normal to ask why in the middle of our disappointment. We all struggle when life gets flipped upside down. It is healthy to allow yourself time to grieve and deal with the hurtful emotions. Turn to God and even share your hard why questions with Him; He can handle them. But eventually, as we move through our disappointment, I think we have to move past the why and ask an even better question, what now? What now do I do with this unexpected circumstance in my life?
Have you ever met two people that have experienced the exact same thing and one of them comes out of it bitter and one comes out of it better? Christine shares a sweet story about her and her daughter in the book where they both experienced disappointment at Disneyland. Her daughter handled it much differently than Christine. She says, “We had the exact same experiences but two totally different responses. We had the exact same experiences but ended up in two different places emotionally.” I think if we stay focused on the “why” forever and never switch over to the “what now” question, we will stay emotionally stuck.
Christine says, “Do you see how it’s what we do with our disappointments that determines our destiny? If we don’t go through our hardships, we may move on in years, but our life stops at the point of our greatest disappointment. We either go through what happens and manage the disappointment well or they manage us.” So how do you go through it and keep a strong faith?
I love what Christine encourages us to do. “Holding to our faith-even in the face of deep disappointment is critical. Making God’s promises bigger than our disappointment is essential. Getting into his Word and letting it get into us brings our hearts back to life. Worshipping him opens the door for the Holy Spirit to encourage us and heal us so we can trust again. Learning how to change our perspective through steps like this help us transition from fearing the unexpected to trusting God through it.” This is such great advice!
I agree that perspective is key. Sometimes it is hard to see past our circumstances and the hurt we are experiencing so give yourself lots of grace. This is a process and sometimes it is 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. Keep progressing through the pain, the hurt, and the disappointment. Allow yourself to journal along the way, share the raw emotions you are feeling and then ask God to keep healing you along the way. He is faithful! He wants to walk with you through these unexpected circumstances! Trusting Him along the way even when we do not understand why is important. Leaning into God and His Word will keep your focus on His promises and not your disappointing circumstances.
I want to share with you my favorite quote of the whole book. Christine says, “Has it ever occurred to you that God can use your disappointments to set a new trajectory for you, one that gets you closer to your destiny.” First of all, I love this word trajectory. Pastor Steve introduced me to it at our Saddleback Kids Summit in January when he spoke on the life of Joseph, one of my favorites in the Bible! Joseph experienced many disappointments in his life and he could have easily given up after the pit or prison and became bitter. But he trusted God even in some of the hardest circumstances. Along the way, God was preparing him for this amazing destiny but He could not have give it to him right away because Joseph was not mature enough for it. So through the disappointment in Joseph’s life, God refined Him and grew him; the detour led him to his destiny! I love to think that our disappointments in life can actually lead us to our destiny. Disappointments can be some of the hardest times in our life but they can also be some of the most growing times in our life. These hard times not only refine us but also teach us how to fully depend on God. Growing is exponential during the storms in our life. This is why I think Christine says, “I believe there are divine appointments beyond all our disappointments.” I love this- it gives me hope!
I want to end with this quote from Christine’s book. She says, “Very little in my life has ever happened the way I thought it would- but God’s plan have prevailed because I never stopped believing in him and following what he has wanted me to do. I’ve learned over and over that he often does unexpected things in unexpected ways in unexpected places using unexpected people. People like you and me.”
I pray we can embrace the unexpected!! Just think, it could change the trajectory of your life!
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