What do you do with your disappointment?
What happens when life takes a turn you never expected? Where do you run when someone lets you down? What do you turn to when your relationship hurts more than it helps? How do you handle not getting the promotion, not being chosen for the investment, not being invited along to the concert? What happens when the love of your life leaves you, your dad get sick and you aren’t sure what’s going to happen, or the one you love doesn’t make it?
What happens when you cry out, “God where the hell are you?” And then there you sit… in the silence.
What do you do with your disappointment? In your life, in your relationships, in your self, and in God?
A Few weeks ago I was sitting with a supervisor at the clinic when he slowed down, looked into the soul of my eyes, and asked, “Matt, what do you do with your disappointment?”
His question caught me off guard. I took a deep breath, inhaled, exhaled, and inhaled again. I whispered through my exhale, “I don’t really know.” As I said it I could feel the tears well up in my eyes. As a therapist in training I’ve been told that when you notice your client’s eyes welling up, a good question to ask is, “If your tears could speak what would they say?” It’s kind of a funny and weird question, but in that moment I could hear my tears crying out, “Matt, it’s safe here. You may be disappointed. Your disappointment is worth your tears. Your disappointment is worth your time. Your disappointment isn’t wrong… it’s real.”
My supervisor held me with his eyes and then said, “If I had to guess your disappointment comes out pretty sideways sometimes doesn’t it?”
Then all of the sudden it hit me: That’s where my disappointment goes!
Throughout the years I’ve “struggled” with all kinds of things. Pornography binges birthed out of the loneliness of a cold bed at night. Late night pizza for one paired with a few too many bud lights to avoid my feelings of inadequacy. Impulsive ends to what seemed to be such beautiful relationships for fear that my true feelings and overwhelming fears would be found out. All the while wondering why my best efforts and sometimes excessive and obsessive discipline never seemed to make a difference.
I’ve run a few marathons. I’ve memorized some bible versus. I’ve completed the Whole 30… once. But nothing ever seems to stick! I’ve changed a little, I’ve grown, and I’ve seen some real improvements, but not in the ways I have hoped for, not in ways that really matter to me. Time after time days turn to weeks turn to months, with each relapse the weight of my shame whispers, “What the hell is wrong with you…” I have often caught myself looking down… disappointed: “What kind of a sick joke is this? What kind of a sick joke am I? God, what kind of a sick joke did you create?”
I don’t have all the answers. In so many ways I’m still stumbling along trying to figure this whole life thing out. But here is what I’m beginning to realize:
I’m realizing how important it is to be real and honest about my disappointment. It’s a shame (in more way than one) that hiding from my disappointment and the brokenness that comes with it is so damn tempting. It’s scary! The fear of being seen. The fear of being pushed away. The fear of not being taken seriously. The fear of hurting someone else. The fear that no one will care. The fear that nothing is going to change. The fear that no one will be there to hold me and to comfort me. The fear that Jesus isn’t actually who He say’s He is… “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened…” But what if there is never rest?
If we are going to live wholehearted, meaningful, and connected lives, we have to stop hiding our disappointment.
A couple thousand years ago Jesus stood before a huge group of people and preached what turned out to be the greatest sermon of all time. Towards the beginning of His sermon he uttered these simple words:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
There is so much that can be said about this truth – but here is the invitation:
When you experience disappointment and when things don’t go the way you had hoped, you don’t have to hide your hurt. Jesus invites you to stop hiding and be honest about the disappointment and the pain. And in being honest we are invited to mourn. Let the tears roll down your cheeks. Cry out, scream out, and let it out. Allow yourself to fall down, allow yourself to give up, and allow yourself to be held. Reach out to a mentor. Go see a counselor. Sit with your pastor. Let a close friend hold you. For the longest time I’ve believed the lie that Jesus’ grace is only about getting to heaven and I need to work harder and do better so that I don’t have to use up His grace. I’m learning that His grace is really all about a Father’s longing to hold his beloved child in an honest and real relationship.
This isn’t some cute therapeutic technique. This isn’t a fad that’s in. This isn’t a new theory. This is truth from truth Himself:
Blessed are you when you are honest with me about the disappointment and the hurt. Blessed are you when you let yourself feel the reality and the weight of your disappointment. Blessed are you when you stop hiding or holding back and you allow yourself to mourn, to cry, and to lament.
“For you will be comforted.”
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you res. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Jesus.