What do you do with disappointment? It feels weighty- like a sinking feeling from within or from carrying a weight that bears down more than feels manageable. It feels immature- a sense of child-like selfishness that can tap into fears and behaviors that remind you former times in life, perhaps times from childhood or perhaps times from last week.
When faced with this kind of experience, which happens more often than I would like, I want to fix the problem. I want to get through it or ignore it or see the good in the situation. I want to be on the other side of disappointment. I want everything to be OK. What I often fail to see is that disappointment is OK. In the midst of that awkward place is a beautiful grace overlooked. If I could fix my own problems, what would be the need for the Lord? If I did not experience struggle or the uncomfortable feelings, what would be the need for grace?
“You’re not her.”
Those were the words spoken as I walked between an older couple on the sidewalk. I was mistaken for his wife who was straggling behind in the heat as he made a comment about a building. He looked slightly alarmed when the realization hit him that I was not the woman he was expecting. As I walked on slightly amused, I muttered to myself, “story. of. my. life.” Then I almost stopped- which is good that I did not because by this point I was in the middle of a road- but it occurred to me how this message has become a part of how I see myself. This message, simple and plain, has been engrained long before this man stated the obvious. So many times I have not been “her.” Whether that is (obviously) someone else’s wife, or not picked for a job or team, or times I have been told in lesser or bolder terms that I am not _____.
This brings a hefty message of disappointment. I am not her. And that is OK. That does not mean I am not me- whom the Lord loves, whom he pursues, whom he has created. I am not expected to be any more or less than who I am. And in that place, there is grace and there is a deep, affectionate love. When my hope rests in the words of others, or my expectations are beyond the place of resting in the Lord, there will be disappointment, there will be heartache. People were not created to sustain one another in this way.
Proverbs 3:5-6 was talked about on Sunday with the interpretation of not “propping” yourself on anything other than the Lord. When I prop myself against something, usually a counter, door-frame, car- apparently, whatever happens to be sturdy enough to prop against- I rest my weight against that object. That object better be able to handle me. If not, I will fall and it will hurt. And as much as I would like to blame the prop, it was my decision to rest my weight on something not made for that use.
What can you do with disappointment? Don’t fix it. Let it be. Sit with it as if with a friend- a very awkward friend. Let it show where expectation was placed. Let it reveal your humanness in where your hope has rested.
Let disappointment not be wasted.