"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dealing with Disappointment

Last week, while out of the country with my hubby, I received a distressing email from a colleague removing me from a writing project. It wasn’t her decision, and while she tried to spill the beans as gently as possible, the news still wounded, inflamed jealousy, and incited anger. My head understood the reasons why, but my heart felt that I deserved more for the hours logged tapping keys. Ill-timed in the middle of a glorious trip in the Serengeti Desert, perhaps the earth-shattering update could’ve waited for a face to face conversation. Still, there's no such thing as perfect timing for painful news, is there?

Life is filled with the unexpected, isn’t it? We never anticipate what is around the next bend in the road. Most of the time, we truck along without thinking about any potential head-on crashes or side swipes. We don’t anticipate someone or something interrupting our smooth sailing, and in a split second, life changes.

The surprising diagnosis of breast cancer, startling death of a loved one, abrupt end of a marriage, miscarriage in late pregnancy, estranged family relationship, unplanned pregnancy, loss of a writing job can happen as sudden as it takes to send an email across the world. Unfortunately, I know real live people, including me, who have been the recipients of such devastating reports in recent days.

Unfortunately, sucking in breath on God’s green earth equates to facing disappointment at some point. I can’t press the escape or delete key when it comes to tragedy. Because I live in a broken world, unforeseen events come with the territory. I can choose, however, how I respond to these unplanned catastrophes.

My human nature cries, “Unfair!” I certainly deserve better than this, right?! The very phrase I spout so quickly to my children comes ringing back in my ear, “Life is not fair.” It’s so much easier to say than experience. The two year old in me emits its ugly self as I pout and stomp my feet in rebellion against this unpredicted bend in the road. I didn’t ask for this interruption, and the world will know it.

Yet, there is another way to handle these crises that crash into my life without warning. I’ve coined it, “But…God,” simply because when I frame the disruption of my plan in the light of His purpose, my perspective changes. Down deep, I am convinced God desires the best for me, so I know He will somehow work good in even this out of the blue predicament. And yes, the Enemy lurks, evil abounds and life happens, so I shouldn’t be surprised that my journey feels like a roller coaster that jumped off the tracks.

Still, God promises His presence always, in every situation, no matter how ugly. And I’ve witnessed that truth firsthand—through divorce, single-parenting, financial pressures, parenting teens, difficult family relationships and now this writing obstacle. I don’t understand God’s plan and purpose, but He sees what I do not see. His vision is perfect; mine is flawed. Thus, while I deal with disappointment and specifically this setback, I trust God to work more of His character in me and reveal my new direction.

What disappointments have you faced? What has been your typical response?

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5 NLT

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