For two of the best humans I know.
The first memory I remember feeling disappointed was in second grade at the local Spelling Bee. “Weather, W-E-T-H-E-R, Weather.” “That is incorrect. The correct spelling is W-E-A-T-H-E-R. You may be seated.” I remember hearing those words so clearly. I don’t remember anything after those words. Literally, no other memories of that day. When I think about the disappointments I’ve experienced in life, I always remember the first phrase exactly as stated. I don’t always remember much of the rest of the conversation. The burn of the first statement stays with us a long time, over thirty years in the case of my Spelling Bee. I don’t know how I responded or what I said, I just remember the tears immediately stinging my eyes. I remember thinking “I never want to feel this way again.” My immediate response was feeling the shame of rejection and then immediately trying to avoid the feeling of disappointment as much as physically possible.
“We decided to move forward with another candidate, and he’s accepted our offer.”
“This is going to be a hard conversation.”
“I’m seeing someone else.”
“You’re not the right fit for us.”
“These are the terms…”
“You’re probably having a miscarriage.”
“I recommend he sees a specialist right away.”
“That is a lump. We need to do a biopsy.”
If you’re a human being, doing life with other human beings, you’ve been disappointed. I’m no different. I’ve learned that there’s a lot of different ways to react to disappointment and it’s not a one size fits all. Sometimes, I immediately want to argue back, confirm there’s been a mistake, convince them they’re wrong. And you know what, sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do. You need to fight back. You need to ask for another conversation. You need to get help. You need to plead your case. You need to go down swinging. I never want look back on situations and say “I wish I would have fought harder.”
In other situations, the disappointment is the end of the road. There’s no fighting back. There’s just a journey to acceptance, and it can be a long road ahead. But when you step forward on that road to acceptance, somewhere along your journey you realize acceptance can lead to a new destination all together if you’re open to it. Not getting the job leads to other career opportunities. Getting dumped leads to a new relationship or contentment in being single. Being rejected leads to a new friendship. A potential miscarriage leads to a passion to experience motherhood. A child with a medical disorder leads to a child with enhanced empathy. A lump turns into an opportunity to build faith and trust. Sometimes there are new beginnings and beauty even after death. New beginnings don’t diminish the pain and sheer disappointment of losing someone we love. The pain is still real.
If you are human, you might be dealing with disappointment. While we can’t avoid disappointment, we can seek wisdom from others people’s experience. We can learn from their reactions and choose our reaction accordingly. Jesus shows us in so very few words how to deal with the ultimate disappointment. In the book of Matthew, after he is sentenced to death, the first recorded words after his sentencing don’t come until he’s actively dying on the cross. He states out loud “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Even in his last moments on earth, he’s teaching us by example. If it were me, I’d have some choice words and fight in me after hearing my fate. I would argue, try to convince them of a different solution, I would plead my case. In Jesus’ example, doesn’t respond until much later. When he does, he goes right to the source. Even though he feels abandoned and totally rejected, he goes to God to plead. He seeks understanding. He doesn’t phone a friend, he doesn’t perpetuate drama. He simply goes to the source. He knows that even in his death, there are new beginnings and bigger impact coming. His acceptance led to a new destination, new beginnings and significant impact. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard for him. He felt forsaken and alone. You may feel forsaken and alone and that’s real. My prayer for you is that you find the strength to go to the source and that your journey to acceptance leads to a new beginning and new impact. This isn’t the end of your story. You are are here on purpose with a purpose. The world needs exactly who you were created to be even amidst your disappointment. You are loved and God knows your heart and your desires. W-E-A-T-H-E-R the storm, the sun will rise tomorrow.
I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!