I have a problem. It’s childish and embarrassing to admit. It causes me to throw temper tantrums sometimes and get irrationally emotional about the silliest of things.
I am chronically disappointed.
No, not in the sense that I can never be pleased. I don’t walk around with a frown and a bad attitude about my disappointment of a life.
It means that I get excited about the little things. I get so excited. Moments and ideas and possibilities light me up. I think and ponder and hope for what might happen. The thing is, sometimes what I hope for doesn’t happen. Or sometimes it happens, but not in the way I expected. All that excitement for nothing. I feel like a deflated balloon.
So why am I chronically disappointed? Because life chronically doesn’t give me what I expect. And that’s okay. Except when I act like it’s not.
I have been this way for as long as I can remember. Even as a child I would feel deeply disappointed, wounded even, by unmet expectations. Following my disappointment always comes a heavy sense of guilt and self-hatred for having such easily swayed emotions.
Really, this problem comes down to the source of my hope. The one thing I can expect from this world is change. My plans will not always go the way I hope and I will for sure be disappointed in this life. If that is where my hope lies, then I will find myself continually crushed. I know my hope needs to be placed in God, but how? It’s an easy theoretical conversation to have, but what does it mean to walk out a life of unshakable hope found in the Father? What does it mean to be emotionally honest about disappointment and unmet expectations without allowing these things to dominate your life and relationships?
I don’t have it mastered and the disappointment sneaks up on me more often than I care to admit, but there are a few truths I have learned through this journey of learning to ride the ups and downs.
- Look for the positive. My first reaction is always in regards to how I am negatively affected by an unfulfilled plan, but what if there was more to the story? More and more I am trying to teach myself to not just see what has been lost, but instead to see what has been gained in its place. The scenario doesn’t have to end as a tragedy, it just might have a different happy ending than what was initially expected. Here’s a game changer though- the positive thing might not directly affect you. This is so revealing of the sneaky selfishness in my heart. Sometimes what disappoints me actually greatly blesses another person- am I willing to rejoice in that? This is where you get the chance to practically display what it means to find your hope in God. If my hope is in God, I trust that the change in the plot was ordained by Him and is ultimately for my good!
- Acknowledge your feelings. Acknowledge them in their tenderest form. What does that mean? For me, I often don’t acknowledge my disappointment until my disappointment turns into frustration which then turns into anger which then turns into resentment. Whatever caused me to feel disappointed usually isn’t anyone’s fault, but the blame has to be placed somewhere and that too often is the people who are nearest and dearest to me. I generally don’t acknowledge or share my feelings when they are fresh and “pure,” so to speak, because I am embarrassed to admit that I was disappointed by whatever happened and I don’t want to appear weak. What is more embarrassing, though, is being irrationally bitter over that same situation and dealing with a small thing becoming a really, really big thing. People are usually going to be a lot more gracious and understanding of non-hostile expressions of emotion, so get it out before it goes stale!
- Pick a safe person to talk to, then stop talking about it. It is so easy to sit in disappointment, especially when you have a compassionate person who is willing to commiserate with you. Talking about it is good. Expressing the initial feeling of emotion is good. Dwelling on it and wearing it like an ugly, stained sweatshirt is not good. Find someone who will show compassion, but someone who will also speak truth. Tell them what you feel and why. Listen if they have wisdom to share. Move on. It’s over. What you thought was going to happen isn’t, but something else is and if you don’t pay attention you are going to miss it!
Am I alone in this, or have you ever struggled with “chronic disappointment?” Let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts or advice on how to seek the Lord in overcoming frustration from unmet expectations!