When Those You Love Let You Down
: my lifeWhen Those You Love Let You Down
Five Keys to Dealing with Disappointment
by Elaine Creasman
I’m so disappointed, I thought as I crawled into bed. I felt overwhelmed by my 20-year-old daughter’s choices—choices that affected my everyday life—especially ones which led her to being an unwed mother.
She wasn’t the only one I felt disappointed with. There were other family members, coworkers, fellow Christians, church leaders.
When I looked up disappointment in the dictionary, I read, “frustration.” It also said, “defeated in expectation” and “hope thwarted.” That described me. I looked up frustration. “A deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.” That was my ailment.
“Lord, what do I do?” I cried out. Since then, God has shown me five ways to deal with disappointment.
1. BRING DISAPPOINTMENTS TO GOD
When I go to God with disappointments—instead of trying to change people who disappoint me—it keeps me trusting Him. “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah” (Psalm 62:8). In exchange for my disappointments, I receive His insight, His guidance, His comfort.
One day as I contemplated disappointments, Psalm 119:71 came to mind: “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
“What is my affliction, Lord?” I wondered.
What came to mind is: being surrounded by people who don’t have passion for God. The very thing I was mourning—others’ lack of passion—is what increased my own. I reflected and saw that when disappointments threatened to take over, my passion for God increased as long as I kept seeking Him.
2. EMBRACE GOD’S PLAN
As I bring God my disappointments concerning my plans not happening, He reveals His plans.
Grace Fox, in her book 10-Minute Time Outs for Busy Women, states, “Releasing our plans and embracing His allows us to walk in freedom and confidence. Even when we don’t understand why things happen as they do, we can rest in the knowledge that He loves us more than words can say, and He has our best in mind” (Page 169, Harvest House).
One truth I cannot escape is that God’s plan is always better than mine.
3. RELEASE UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
“I know you’re disappointed in me,” my older daughter, Tami, wrote one year in a Mother’s Day card.
She was right. I had expected at that point in her life—her early 20s—she’d be wholeheartedly serving God. Instead she had rejected Him. I had expected she’d be dating a godly man and looking forward to marriage. Instead she had declared, “I’m gay.”
Was it wrong to desire Tami live a righteous life? No. It was wrong to expect it and believe I couldn’t experience joy in life or in my relationship with her until my expectations were met.
My unrealistic expectations center on, “I demand you do what I deem is right.” I tell myself that’s OK because my ideas of what’s right match God’s. This attitude causes me to spend—waste—much time grieving over what others do wrong and trying to correct them.
A new goal is to celebrate when others do right, thanking them and God. With Tami, I’m thankful that she’s presently celibate.
One quote I think of often is this: “Don’t become overly discouraged if you have problems with your children. God understands. He has problems with His kids too” (Gigi Graham Tchividjian, Weather of the Heart).
4. REJOICE IN GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
Someone once instructed, “Glance at your problems; focus on God.” Too often I’m focused on relationship problems and disappointments connected to them. This leads to self-pity, depression, even despondency.
As I focus on God and being grateful for all He’s done for and in me, I can rejoice in His faithfulness—even in the midst of disappointments.
One day as I spoke my disappointments in front of my then 13-year-old daughter, she said, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You have so much to be thankful for.” Then she listed blessings in my life. Here was a daughter who at the time had brought disappointment by repeatedly rejecting what I’d taught her about right and wrong. Yet God was using her to speak truth. That day I embraced this verse: “I will sing to the LORD, because He has treated me generously” (Psalm 13:6). I can see how faithful He has been over the years.
Part of rejoicing in God’s faithfulness is trusting in His timing. Often disappointment comes because I’m weary of waiting. I need to remember what someone once told me, “God has a different clock than you do.”
5. FOCUS ON OBEYING
People have declared: “Disappointment/ His appointment.” I believe if we let disappointments overwhelm us, we’ll miss His appointment. One major area of disappointment centers on others not obeying God. If I become obsessed with other people’s disobedience, I fail to obey.
Sometimes my husband loses his temper, and lashes out at our family. The times I’ve resorted to lecturing, I tend to end up being nasty toward him.
Too often I want God to prove Himself by doing what I demand in straightening out wayward people. Philip Yancey in his book, Disappointment With God, states: “If we insist on visible proofs from God, we may well prepare the way for a permanent state of disappointment. True faith does not so much attempt to manipulate God to do our will as it does to position us to do his will.”
Obeying—by loving others the way God loves me instead of insisting He love me by changing them—helps me rise above disappointments.
I end up in the desert of disappointment when I want something and don’t get it. My “poor me” attitude which tends to follow is prideful.
I’m learning that instead of hungering to get my own way in relationships and feeling down and disappointed when I don’t, I can hunger and thirst for righteousness (see Matthew 5:6 AMP). This means to determine to think, say, and do the right thing—to remain faithful—even when people around me are not. God promises good things when I pursue this course. He says I’ll be “blessed,” “fortunate,” “happy,” “spiritually prosperous,” and “completely satisfied!” (Matthew 5:6 AMP) That beats being debilitated by disappointment.
Elaine Creasman is a freelance writer and works part time as a mental health tech. She has two grown daughters and a granddaughter.
Visit her website: www.elainecreasman.com
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