Skip to main content

dis-appoint

We had a girls' night yesterday and amidst six-minute pizzas and creating silly videos while wearing strange hats and munching on decadent banana chocolate pecan bread, we talked about fantasy. I admitted to having a mind that loves to create scenarios of how things could go, usually perfectly or terribly, best case or worst case scenarios. I imagine details of events, relationships, social or church gatherings, and the occasional stint as a world-famous artist. Some of it is pretty harmless and excellent fuel for fiction writing, but some of it could drag me into a vicious cycle of not dealing well with disappointment.

THE CYCLE

1. Disappointment. We all encounter this in life, but what do we do with it?
2. Denial. One way of coping with disappointment is to deny the impact the event had on us. After all, it seems weak and embarrassing and immature to admit that some person's actions or not getting that job made me cry for an hour. So I tell myself it is no big deal. I fail to address the issue and create an alternate scenario, one that casts me a person of strong character, able to brush off these hurtful episodes as minor annoyances. It makes me look and feel better, at least that's what I hope.
3. Embellishment. Unfortunately, this alternate scenario where I am invincible and not affected by circumstances leads to embellishment, an unrealistic view of who I am and how I interact with my world.
4. Substitution. Instead of addressing the issue, I then turn to something else, wrongly believing that in some way I am moving on. I substitute someone or something else for the very thing that has disappointed me. If our mate is less than all we had hoped, we can substitute other people to try to fill that void. This is how affairs and divorces happen. Masturbation and prostitution are prime examples of substituting immediate gratification for real intimacy and lasting relationship. A job may be unfulfilling so we look somewhere else to feel challenged and successful (e.g. gambling).
5. Disappointment. Substitution always leads to disappointment because it is not the real thing and it has not taken care of that underlying pain. It is a temporary reprieve that can have some pretty devastating consequences in the long run. And so the cycle continues.

So, how are we to deal with disappointment when it comes our way?

THE WAY OUT

1. In humility, know who we are. We must get real. Ask God to show us what is going on in our hearts. Ask good and truthful friends to be straight with us about what they see in our lives, about how we handle tough situations.
2. Know the difference between what is a solid foundation and what are shifting situations in life. Do not confuse the two. As an example, a job is a shifting situation. If I place all my hopes on securing a certain dream job and believe this will make me happy, I am setting myself up for disappointment. Employment is not an immovable foundation. God is the only solid foundation. Certain people can be strong pillars in our lives as well and I should know whom I can trust with my vulnerability and whom I cannot. Rest assured, some people and circumstances will fail me. Do not place unrealistic expectations on temporary, shifting situations.
3. Trust God with all those areas of disappointment. Clean them out and don't let them become seeds for an unhealthy fantasy life, fuelling the never ending cycle of unreality that keeps us stuck where we are. Deal with the issues and the disappointments, don't ignore them.

We ended the evening with green tea and getting real by praying for and helping each other deal with those personal nagging areas of disappointment. God was most gracious to flood the evening with His spirit and a wonderful mix of peacefulness and excitement rested on the girls there that night. Really.

This is a picture of a street in Remedios, Cuba.

Comments

Shelley said…
good post Matte. Disappointment is right up there on my list of yucky emotions. The last couple of years I have been dealing with it by treating it like grief. I am disappointed because I have suffered a loss, I figure, real or imagined doesn't matter. So I respectfully and honestly allow myself to go through the stages of grief, some of them are short and some not so much...but going thru and finding comfort at the end is so much better than trying to ignore it. Because then I find myself living to avoid it, which means not putting myself out there. And I like that even less than disappointment.

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

comedic timing

One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---
Moooooooo!!

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …