Disappointment, of any kind, size or type, hurts. I believe the reason for such deep pain in disappointment is linked to the fragility of hope. Hope is so very fragile. We risk our hearts when we hope. And when that hope is left unmet, a deep place of our hearts is wounded.
Today I experienced slight disappointment, but disappointment, no matter how big or small, is a big deal to the heart. I say a slight because in light of some of the heart-break that some of my friends and some of you may have known, either in miscarriages, failed relationships, abandonment by loved ones, or facing disease, my reason for disappointment is embarrassingly insignificant. I say all this because even though the thing that disappointed me was relatively small, I still felt it deeply. Disappointment is a powerful force that can weigh us down like a cold, wet blanket if left unconfronted.
My husband and I have been trying to plan a “get-away” before our next baby arrives in order to get time to rest, pray and reflect on what God has done in the past year and also pray about what He wants us to focus on for the next year. We try to have these retreats at least every year, but with kids, work, budgets, and finding room for all of those to work together it gets harder and harder to make it happen. We thought we had it nailed down in February, but had to cancel it due to work conflicts. We re-planned for April, but I found out today that we are canceling our plans again due to schedule conflicts out of our control. Even though it is not that big of a deal, it still hit me hard. I felt totally bummed, to say it casually. My initial reaction was to pout like my 2-year-old. I wanted to throw myself down and kick, scream, cry and feel sorry for myself. Our retreat means so much to me and I was really looking forward to it…really needing it. This disappointing news made me want to never get my hopes up again in order to self-protect from another disappointment. It made me want to crawl inside myself and act unmoved and calloused. Partly, because I know my husband feels badly about disappointing me with something outside of his control and I didn’t want to show him that I was bummed. I also don’t want to put my heart out there with anticipation only to be left uncared for or crushed by disappointment. Disappointment can feel defeating to the heart no matter how small or large the issue may be.
None of those reactions I listed above are who I am called to be in Christ. In Christ I am a new creation. Left up to myself, I would wallow is self-pity and bitterness and would play the blame game until I started to forget what the big deal was in the first place. In Christ, however, my heart has higher and more hopeful calling. I have a safe place I can be honest with my disappointments, and also a place I can get perspective. He is my safe place. In Him, I will never find disappointment.
As I was blow-drying my hair today I talked to God about the yucky status of my disappointed heart. I asked Him to help me see the situation from His viewpoint, instead of the dark view from the “self-pity cave” that I had been hiding in. Immediately, as I asked Him for help, the word THANKFULNESS came to mind. I knew what He was saying “My child, you are to confront your disappointment with thankfulness”. “Thank you God! You are so right!” was my heart’s response as I paused, amazed at God’s faithfulness to answer us when we call out to Him. I stood there in front of the mirror for the remainder of time it took to dry and style my hair and I spoke out the things in my life and in this situation that make me thankful. My heart was changing. My perspective had moved from an inward focused, navel gazing self-pity that only felt like “retail therapy” would help me, to a light, happy and thankful heart.
The heart change that happens when we confront our disappointments with thankfulness is but one way that God offers us a way to live differently than the culture tells us to- it is but one way that we can connect with God’s goodness and love in everyday situations that seem less than we anticipated. God gently and consistently reminds me of the importance of a thankful heart, and today I am THANKFUL for His faithful hand that lifts my eyes to see the goodness of the Lord in my everyday life.
So what do you think of a “Hair-Dryer Thankfulness Challenge”– let’s practice the discipline of thankfulness everyday and confront our disappointments-small or large- with gratefulness. When you are getting ready for the day, when you are taking a shower, styling your hair, applying make-up, shaving- whatever it is you do to get ready for the day, spend that time being consciously thankful to God for who He is and what He has done in your life. Let’s see just how that changes our hearts and lifts the burden of disappointment from our lives. Let me know what happens!! I’ll be doing it with you!
“In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
May you trust Him with your disappointments and know that He is faithful and near to those who are broken-hearted and despairing, no matter how big or small of an ordeal you may be facing.
~ Wrapped in His Affection ~