I’ve been thinking a lot about disappointment lately.
That moment when you realize that the thing you hoped and dreamed about isn’t going to happen.
When the dream you cherished seems like it’s shattered into a million pieces, and you’ll never be able to move on.
When the dream job isn’t so dreamy anymore and you wonder what you’re meant to do with your life.
When you do that thing you said you’d never do.
When life gets hard or confusing or difficult and you can’t see the other side.
When that person you love and trust lets you down, and you wonder if the risk involved in loving is really worth it.
I wish I could tell you that disappointment will never come your way, but it will. And the problem with disappointment is that it can be paralyzing. In that moment when it seems like all hope is lost, it’s easy to begin to question the situation. What did I do wrong? How did I get here? Will it ever not hurt? What do I do now?
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about disappointment lately:
1. Choose to trust God. If you believe that He is sovereign, then He is sovereign over this situation, too. Despite how you feel or the seemingly insurmountable obstacles you see in front of you, He is in control. I’m a firm believer that nothing is wasted with God, and He will use this situation for His glory. Trusting that when you don’t necessarily see it happening is hard, though. Do it anyway.
2. It’s worth it. A lot of disappointment stems from relationships. Here’s the deal: people are going to disappoint you—just like you’re going to disappoint anyone you know well. It may be scary to love and trust someone after great disappointment, but relationships are worth it. Do it anyway.
3. Evaluate your expectations. Sometimes disappointment comes from the expectations you had going into the relationship or the situation. And sometimes, those expectations were unfair or incorrect. When you get a little distance from the situation and can look at it objectively, take a look at your expectations. Learn to identify unfair expectations and wrong assumptions and get rid of them. Choose to learn from this experience.
4. Just because this one situation ended this way doesn’t mean similar ones will, too. Don’t let the disappointment from this experience color every other situation that reminds you of it. Just because that boss reminds you of a former bad boss doesn’t mean he or she is bad. Just because one friendship ended in disaster because of misplaced expectations doesn’t mean every friendship will—unless you’re so focused on the past disappointment that you set up the relationship that way.
This bad thing happened and it was terribly disappointing, but it doesn’t have to shape the rest of your life. Mourn what you’ve lost. Even get angry, but then choose to forgive (yourself or others) and let go of any unfair expectations. Then, put one foot in front of the other and move forward. Disappointment is real and it can be devastating, but it was never meant to be the place where we live the majority of our lives.