Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Sometimes in life we are simply disappointed. Disappointment stinks for all parties involved. It just does. When we’re disappointed, it’s always the result of unmet expectations. So the question really is- what do I do with my disappointment and is my disappointment justified?
For me, I have to take a look at the expectation first. I can’t just sit in disappointment because it feels like I’m sitting in yuck. I have to dig deep and shake it off. So there’s a process. Here goes- just two questions and then the appropriate response.
Question #1- Is my expectation justified? In other words, is it God’s expectation? And this doesn’t mean that it’s just lacking sin. This means does it come from God, is it God given. If it’s God given, then the expectation is legitimate and so is the disappointment. For example, if you expect your husband to stay faithful to you, that’s a Godly expectation. If you expect your children to go to church with you, that’s a Godly expectation. If you expect someone to pay you back something they owe you, then that’s a Godly expectation. You get the point.
Question #2- Is my expectation unjustified? What if it’s not a Godly expectation but instead a personal preference? In that case, we need to not make it an expectation. Perhaps I expected that someone would reach out to me when I am feeling poorly. Well, that’s not an ungodly desire but to make it an expectation is to set myself up for disappointment unjustifiably. And in that state, everyone loses. We lose because we’re unhappy in the disappointment and they lose because we aren’t happy with them. Determining what are personal desires and separating them from Godly expectations can save us so much pain and sorrow! We can desire for our husbands to surprise us with little gifts for no reason and that’s a sweet desire. But if we turn it into an expectation and he doesn’t produce, we may end up moving into disappointment. Oh my! We can desire for someone to return a favor and certainly that’s not a bad thing but it also is a set up for disappointment. The more expectations we have the less we will love and enjoy life. Even precious gifts are diluted if there was an expectation involved! Expectations can be just bulky extra weight around our hearts. Be free of them any and every chance you get! Let them go and breathe easier!
Once I read somewhere from a wife who was so tired of picking up after her husband that it had caused much strife in their marriage. Now granted, there is a respect issue in this scenario for sure, but God doesn’t command a man to pick up after himself. What this woman said to me (in this article) was, if it matters enough to you that you have to complain and complain about it, then it needs to matter enough to you to just do it yourself. Haha! I SO did not want to hear that. But it’s stuck with me for many years. (No, honey, if you’re reading this, I really don’t mean it!) 🙂
But that aside, I would ask that you sit down, by yourself sometime, with a notebook and a prayer. Ask the Lord to give you a list of all of the things about which you are feeling or have felt (and stuffed) disappointed. I’m sure you will be able to come up with quite a few if you are like most of us. Then, go through the list and let go of expectation after expectation after expectation. Release them to the Lord and ask HIm to create in you healthy boundaries and a sense of true humility.
(Exception: Your children, under your roof, are a different story. We are to communicate Godly expectations and hold our children accountable to those expectations. If they know we are disappointed in their actions, then that can be a good thing, if handled with love and compassion. We aren’t disappointed, however, in who they are, just in something they may have chosen to do or not do. What a significant difference! The parent/child model is to represent so as to morph its way into the God/adult model. Truly my parents had high expectations of me and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Their parenting trained me into my adult relationship with the Lord and now, I try to respect Him, honor Him and surely do not want to disappoint HIm. It’s not out of fear or shame but out of reverence and love that I don’t want to disappoint. It’s a good thing, not bondage.)
In general, disappointment in others indicates an attitude of entitlement, an assumption that whatever is going on is about you- your authority, your rights to another person’s life, your unspoken assumption that you, in fact, are the director of their show and they are on your stage and if they don’t behave according to your script, then they are wrong and they are bad and you are disappointed in them. Heck, some people even want to put God on the stage while they sit in the audience judging His moves, or lack thereof.
Let’s get a grip here. (And I think this is the second time this week it’s been on my mind, right?) He is God and we are not.
So then what to do with disappointment? Well if it comes from personal preference, ask God to forgive us our pride and arrogance. Forgive whatever we have held against anyone else and recognize that we are not wearing the director’s hat in their life. That’s God’s place. We need to move out of the way so they will see Him sitting there, not us. We pray for humility, to see things through God’s eyes so that we can be free. Disappointment, especially ungodly disappointment generally leads to depression, anger, misery. Yuck! It’s just not worth it! Give God back the director’s chair and hop up on the stage with everyone else.
If our disappointment comes from a Godly expectation, then we must pray for the person or about the circumstance and gently point to the cross. We speak when the Holy Spirit guides us to speak and in a way we speak. We speak in truth and love. Do unto others, amen.
Was I too harsh?
“Jesus Christ demands that there be not the slightest trace of resentment even suppressed in the heart of a disciple when he meets with tyranny and injustice.” – Oswald Chambers (one of my heroes)
Takeaway: Disappointment can be a red flag for pride. If we are struggling with anger or depression over disappointments, then we need to take a hard look at what the expectations are that we have in our life. Are we expecting God to make things the way we think they should be? Are we expecting other adults to act the way we think they should act? Are we, in fact legitimately disappointed because someone is sinning? We have to be stripped down to raw honesty to determine which is the case, most times. Be stripped in order to be free.
Prayer: Dear Lord, please help me to be honest with myself as I examine my disappointments- even those of myself. If they are personal preferences, then help me to let them go. If they are of You, then help me to pray for freedom for anyone who might be in bondage. Please teach me how to separate my personal preferences from Godly expectations and respond accordingly so that I may keep short accounts and not end up in anger and depression. Thanks, Jesus. You are God and I am not.