Dealing with Disappointment

I’ve been training for a half-marathon (13.1 mi) in Kansas City October 15. I won’t lie the training is tough but I’ve been looking forward to the run. I also planned to use the run to raise money for a Project Partner mission trip. I planned to visit a school in China and take them resources to rebuild. Check out this link: learned on Friday that I have a direct hernia. My doctor advised me to have surgery ASAP which means I would miss the race and the trip and now my fund raising effort is also in jeopardy. I was hoping to raise $4,500. I stand to lose it now.  What a disappointment! Several of the things I love the most are in jeopardy. You’d have to know me to know how devastating this is. So what do you do with disappointment?

You have it too right, just around your own set of important things. It could be around things happening in your life, your home, with other people and your ministry—sometimes you get lucky and hit the trifecta where you have disappointment in all these going at the same time.

So here is what I’m doing and maybe it will help you too.

Grieve it. Acknowledge the disappointment. Give it words. Speak frankly and honestly to God out loud about it. Tell people you trust. Write it in your journal. Talk to those who can give you perspective. In my case I talked to my family, my doctor, other runners, Project Partner staff and volunteers, our partners in China, my prayer team and friends. Don’t hide it but there is no need or benefit in wallowing here. Tell the truth. It is what it is. You don’t need sympathy and you don’t want people feeling sorry for you but an understanding heart here is a great gift.

Learn from it. Review what happened and ask God to show you anything that you could have done differently or should do next time. Give yourself grace. You are human and finite in your understanding. Ask the appropriate questions of the right people and don’t be afraid of the answers. Sometimes we are so defensive or afraid of being wrong we don’t learn the lessons we could learn if we were humble and teachable. In my case I visited the Doctor in August and suggested this was a problem but his nurse practitioner didn’t find it. She thought it was a pulled muscle in my groin area. Although I thought she was wrong I didn’t ask for a second opinion until on my ten mile run I had pain I knew wasn’t in my muscle. So I waited too long to get a second opinion. If I had acted sooner I could have had the surgery, healed and made the trip. Bummer!

Accept it. The sooner we can make peace with reality the better. It is what it is. A good leader can define reality and make appropriate plans. Embrace it and make the most of it. Why is it that we can stand in awe of things we can’t understand in nature and science and then be mad at God for things we can’t understand in our lives? He is God and He has a master plan. The sooner we can accept that He is in control and we are not the healthier we will be. And we are less likely to miss the benefit that is surely going to come if we do it this new way. There will be a blessing or a silver lining. Look for it. Expect to meet God along the way. In my case perhaps there is a different way to raise this money. Maybe God will lay it on someone’s heart to help. And maybe there is a reason I need to rest and be here in KC on those dates. I believe God for better things. God can do things I cannot do in ways I could never dream and I’m asking Him to do just that with this.

Grow from it. In every disappointing thing there is the possibility you could grow. Perhaps it is as simple as learning new levels of trust. But you might also learn a new way or meet new people who could share the load. If you are humble and teachable it the likelihood is that you will see things from a different perspective and if nothing else be wiser for the experience. Notice I used words like possibility and likelihood because growth is not a given. Sometimes I’ve taken laps around the same desert because I refused to learn the lesson so God patiently repeated the process. If you get stuck in disappointment and don’t grieve it, learn from it, accept it and grow from it you will likely get more of it.

As you can tell I’m coaching myself in this note and hopefully you can apply it to the situations of your life. We must accept life, the good and the bad, to be able to praise God in all things. Life and people will disappoint us. And frankly we will disappoint ourselves but in all this God is Good and His mercies are new every morning. Great is His Faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-25. I watch with expectation to see what good comes out of this and how He is glorified.