My sister Donna and I stood at the door waiting and smiling. Donna dressed up in her pink, petticoat-shaped dress. I wore a white-linen number, with green and pink roses around the waist. Both of us were in patent leather shoes, white nylon socks, and big smiles. My uncle picked us up in what looked like a white chariot, his new Cadillac. Momma waved goodbye as she went off to work and we went to Lisa’s birthday party at church. We were little – maybe five and six years old.
We could hear our friends laughing and playing as we pulled back the big, glass door to our church. This was a time we could scream as loud as we wanted in church! We were having fun filling our tummies with cake and ice cream, but the party hadn’t reached its crescendo yet. Looking up at the ceiling we saw the “life of the party” – a red, white and blue piñata. As the piñata was slowly lowered we were all given sticks and stood around, waiting with anticipation for our chance to hit the piñata filled with all kinds of goodies. Right at the time we were ready to swing, Donna and I heard Lisa’s mother say, “Gwen, Donna it’s time to go.” Oh, no! We weren’t going to get to hit the piñata see the shower of toys! We just stood there at first and then, slowly lowered our sticks as our faces fell to the floor. We left the party without our piñata prizes. Up to that point, we were having fun, but we didn’t get what we were expecting.
We were disappointed.
One Google search result for “disappointed” states “sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one’s hopes or expectations.” Langston Hughes said it this way, “what happens to a dream deferred? … Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?
Have you experienced this – disappointment? Been there, done that, “got the t-shirt?”
You are not alone. In fact, the one whom Jesus called “great” experienced disappointment – John the Baptist. When John was in prison he said to Jesus, “Are you the Christ or should we look for another?” Jesus sent word back to John, “Tell John the lame walk, the blind see . . . and blessed is the man who is not offended in me.” A definition of “offended” is “disappointed.” John was wondering if Jesus was who He said He was. John, awaiting execution wanted to know, “Am I believing in vain?”
Vain belief. High hopes suddenly dashed. Plans thwarted. The wedding is off. You didn’t get the job. The medical test results came back positive (or negative). You didn’t get into the right school. He doesn’t love you. You came in second place.
So, what do you do now? How do you overcome disappointment?
Want to know the answer? Surrender to God. Maybe that’s obvious, but sometimes we all need reminders of simple truths. Living simple truths can solve complicated life situations. Jesus said His yoke was “easy.” So, how can overcoming disappointment be “easy?” A few steps to consider
- Let go and let God. Let go of all of the negativity, fear and self-doubt created from the situations you’ve titled “disappointment.” Don’t let go of your dreams, but do let go of your fear. Relinquish control of your life and say this, “God has everything under control.” You don’t know why things didn’t turn out the way you planned, but God knows. Many of us have been disappointed and found out later that it worked out for our good. Things happen because they are either God ordained or God allowed. Believe that He has your best and highest good prepared for you.
- Cry out to God. Literally, the psalmist said, “I cried to the Lord and He answered me.” It is important during times of disappointment to connect to God so that the disappointment doesn’t turn into bitterness. Ask God to take your heavy heart. God answers prayer.
- Make a new plan. Many successful people try and fail. They persevere. Some have risen from heartache and suffering, from bankruptcy and abandonment. And yet, succeeded. Ask God, “What are my next steps?” When you feel peace about taking a particular step, take it. Even if it seems strange.
- Be grateful. Every night say, “I am grateful for ________” and fill in the blanks. This could be as simple as “I made it home safely,” to “My husband kissed me.” The more you focus on the good the more good becomes magnified. It is all around you.
Remember my story earlier about my sister and me being disappointed because we had to leave the party early? My father made up the difference by bringing us toys and goodies. Having a relationship with him was even better than hitting the piñata.
The same is true of our Heavenly Father. The relationship with Him is better than life itself.
“Don’t stumble over something that is behind you.” Seneca