Writing this post is a little bit of therapy because I am still dealing with disappointment. It is not past tense ‘dealt’ with disappointment. It is a very present tense ordeal of ‘dealing’. Last week saw a big blow to a writing project I had spent a lot of time on. It was a learning curve and I am happy to say I am out of the the worst of it. Not to mention the day I received the news, my mum happened to be flying out to see me (it’s been almost a year since we last saw each other) which was a God thing – thankful she could be there in a tough time with a warm hug. However, disappointment seems to leave an aftertaste which is not always the most palatable. Here’s what I’m learning…
1. Disappointment is not the end.
When we first get hit with disappointment, it can bring into question all sorts of things. It can make us question whether we feel disappointed forever. I have wondered whether I will ever bounce back from disappointment regarding my writing. It is a lie to believe that the disappointment will define us forever. It does not define who we are. It refines who we are. It is an opportunity for growth.
2. Disappointment can be an opportunity.
Although one of my writing projects is now on hold, it has given me a fresh opportunity to look at other aspects of my work. I decided to grieve out the loss by turning my attention back to my blog. It’s so easy to become engrossed in something – even a really good thing – and realise that it has the potential to be all-consuming. I don’t want my writing to be all-consuming or to define me. I don’t want to set my hope on it. However, even though I have been disappointed and the temptation could be to quit, I now have the opportunity to keep going and not give up. To grow and to learn.
3. Disappointment can bring those expectations into focus.
Norman Vincent Peale said: ‘Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’ Positive thinking is good and I have been told on more than one occasion I see life through rose-tinted spectacles. Maybe that affects how I look at my writing at times. We should aim high and try our best. However, disappointment can take the wind out of our sails, can’t it? For me, even though I knew there was always a possibility for this writing project to not go anywhere at this time, I still felt crushed. Rejection is a part of being a writer after all.
But if I place all of that unmet expectation and disappointment on Jesus, He brings my focus back onto Him. C.S. Lewis said: ‘Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.’ Our expectations can be a bit earth-bound, thinking about the here-and-now and that this is all there is. Life is full of striving, suffering and setbacks, yet if we take our eyes off of ourselves and place them onto Jesus, we can have all our needs met by Him, even if our expectations are not met as we might have hoped (Philippians 4:19; Psalm 23:1).
4. Disappointment is a divine appointment.
We may not like to go to appointments. Whether it is the dentists, the doctors or a meeting with a specialist, they take up space in the diary, can be a time of anxious waiting and we might not know the outcome. In times of disappointment, it is an appointment with God Himself. Coming to God might take time out of our day, we may be feeling anxious when we pray and we don’t know what the outcome will be. But He is there and we can trust Him. These times are a way for us to come to God with our disappointment and be honest and vulnerable to Him. Will we meet Him where we are at, even if it is at rock bottom? He can meet us in our brokenness. He can minister to us in our disappointments.