Constance…have you ever been disappointed?
“Yeah, riiiiggghhhht, ‘Rissa!” you are prolly thinking! “Who hasn’t!!?”
And that leads me to my topic. See…lately I have been experiencing a lot of disappointment…plans made with loved ones and deeply anticipated, only to find that they have changed so the loved one can serve someone else…understandable…but disappointing.
Or trying hard to nail down an appointment, only to get no reply regarding which of a number of dates would be best…and then worse, feeling like I am making a pest of myself in seeking to simply get this thing scheduled…wondering if I am being avoided, if I have been intrusive or over-bearing…and yeah, disappointment.
We all experience it, but here is a secret: disappointment can be a crucial and pivotal agent of transformation in your life…or rather, the way that you handle it will lead to radical transformation.
I think the most crucial thing to grasp is this: Disappointment is divinely planned to result in death. Think about it…frequently when we are disappointed, something inside us dies–a dream, a desire, a hope, a plan…but as has so often been the case for me, the death of those things opens the gateways for the resurrection of those things in some far more pure and properly motivated form.
It is a tool that is similar to a surgeon’s blade. It is wielded with great skill by the Ones who love us best. But there is a team aspect to passing thru the death of disappointment and int the realms of resurrection! Like so many things, what is most crucial is not what happened, but rather how we choose to respond. The power to choose is what separates the Mandala’s from the Mansons!
Generally, we tend to deal with disappointment in one of two ways:
#1: Fear. I know that I am guilty a lot of being so confused when I get disappointed, and then to think, and react in fear…fear that I am being rejected, fear that I am unloved, fear that I have driven someone away with a careless word or mis-timed joke, fear of pain or sorrow.
#2. Faith. Faith that love bears all things, and never fails, and Joy will always find a way. When we are able to faithfully continue to the person we wish to be, to keep our eyes on the vision and keep them off ourselves, it is miraculous how disappointment becomes the catalyst for the transformation we so deeply desire.
I am struck by a series of contrasts in the lives of several Bible characters, and please, remember that the things in the Bible contain truths that we are privileged to suss out in our day and age. It is possible to learn from the truth of the stories without necessarily subscribing to a specifically Christian position or theology.
I see a vast difference in the lives of 2 men, who at one time were very close, who both were destined to rule as king, who both endured disappointment and sorrow…and yet one of these men we have heard nothing from or about other than the things recorded about in in the Bible, and the other of the men wrote poetry and prayers that are still to this day echoing in the highways and byways of the human heart and soul! I am talking about Saul, and David…one walked with fear, and one walked with faith.
Saul is said to have encountered a big disappointment when the prophet Samuel did not show up when Saul had planned for him to. Samuel told him to wait…wait until Samuel arrived! But Samuel delayed several days…and then the people began to grumble, began to demand that their king take action…and Saul’s disappointment became infected by fear, and he began to move and think and decide from a basis of fear.
In the midst of the crucible of disappointment, Saul fearfully decided that he could not rely on or trust anyone else, so he chose to embrace self-reliance, in a twisted way. And within a few chapters he is in the grip of self-deception, which bore the bitter fruits of despair and ultimately destruction…and we see this cycle of disappointment/deception/despair/destruction repeated in Saul’s life over and over again.
By the end of his days, Saul is alone and finds himself in the house of a witch, seeking dark and sinister remedies for disappointment. A few days later, Saul commits suicide, and the life of a talented and promising human being came to a tragic and futile end.
David, on the other hand, found himself in the crucible of disappointment over and over again just like Saul…but instead of responding with fear, he responded with faith. He made a choice, to delight himself in whatsoever was true, good, noble and worthy. He spoke of his choices to do this, to trust, to have faith. He wrote about them, and about the Ones with the power to deliver him according to Their riches and mercies. David declared over and over again that even in the midst of disappointment, God is good.
And ultimately, David experienced deliverance from that crucible and resurrection into a more yielded and humble vessel.
Disappointment met in fear=> deception=>despair=>destruction=>death. The root force behind this whole path is self-reliance, in its unbalanced and unhealthy form. The soundtrack to this path is the song “What about me? Me, me, meeee!!” Tragically, death here is the ultimate and final end.
Disappointment met in faith=>delight in what’s right=>declaring what’s true=>deliverance=>resurrection and life! The root force behind this whole path is a yielded spirit. The soundtrack to this path is the song “I Surrender All”. Miraculously, death here is the gateway to life, and is just a new beginning!
There are many other contrasts available for your examination…consider the man of fear (Samson) vs the man of faith (Samuel), and how each one dealt with disappointment, how each one walked a road that was determined by their choice of fear/faith, and the fruit that came from their lives by the end…
…or consider Judas and Peter (who aren’t that much different! After all, both men betrayed the Lord in His hour of travail!). Judas encountered such disappointment that the Messiah was not setting up a physical kingdom in which he would be an important governor, but was instead setting up a kingdom that was not made from wealth and fame, but from love and sacrifice and kindness…and so he stole things (out of fear), and justified it to himself to betray Jesus (deception), and then when he saw that every attempt he made to force Jesus to show His power physically and save Himself had failed, he wept bitterly (despair), and then hung himself.
Peter, on the other hand, entered into the same crucible, and was guilty of the same things, having taken up a sword and cut off the ear of another person (it took the touch of Jesus to heal that person!)
And as an aside, have you ever noticed that before? When Peter got militant and angry and attempted to bring the Kingdom in by human strength, he effectively rendered another person incapable of hearing! Ask yourself: how many times have YOU with the best of intentions but firmly ensconced in your own strength and agenda taken your sword and hurt someone, deafened them to the very message you so deeply wish to communicate? I think we need to take a hard look at ourselves, and consider hard the lesson Peter learned here!
So when Peter did this, he was rebuked by the Lord, and got disappointed, and even more so when Jesus allowed Himself to be taken away…and then he walked in fear, which led to deception that he would be safe from harm if he just kept quiet…which led to his denial of Jesus vehemently…which led to his despair as he saw His friend and Lord taken and tortured…
…but Peter then found the space and the grace to hold on, and a few days later, the Risen Lord appeared on the shores of the sea and called to Peter who in faith took action! He dove into the sea and swam to the Lord, and there in faith he let disappointment be turned into resurrection as he found his way through delighting in the Lord, declaring Who He is, and thus being delivered into new life.
Constance…I encourage you to take a ramble thru these stories. Whether you have a Bible or just use aan online tool like Bible Gateway…whether you consider the Bible authoritative in your life, or a collection of wise spiritual stories…do not lose the opportunity to glean some wisdom and a skill set to assist you in dealing with a very common assailant in our lives here in this time and place.
The contrasts between the two ways of dealing with disappointment are stark and meaningfully salient:
Fear seeks to escape…Faith seeks to embrace.
If you have chosen a lifestyle that is fear based, this is sort of attempting to save yourself by yourself, and essentially that is tantamount to spiritual suicide eventually. Ultimately, none of us is big enough to bear all our burdens all by ourselves! We need each other, and in my own world view, we need They who love us utterly and completely!
But if you choose to take the risk of responding in faith to disappointment, and to embrace your life rather than attempt to flee, then you will find the peace and relief in laying down your life into Their loving hands…trusting Them that you can be who you really are with Them, and that They will be who They really are with you!. You take your eyes off of the fires, off of the hurts, and you fix your eyes on the promised prize waiting on the other side…waiting thru the crucible of disappointment.
Disappointment: it brings us to the crossroads…and we can travel to that cross, and then thru that cross and into new life and deeper peace and joy.
Thank you so much for reading, and may you be blessed this day with oodles of grace, and boodles of joy, and blankets of peace.