I suppose disappointment is a human condition that affects us all. We often wallow in the disappointment in ourselves and boil over our emotions in the disappointment of others.
There is a portion of scripture I often default to in times of disappointment that shakes me back into reality. It is in Proverbs 13:12a (NKJV), “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” My paraphrase is, “Expectations not met, breaks the heart.”
Everyone reading this who knows me quite well has most likely been disappointed by me. And maybe I have been disappointed in you also. So is the history of relationships. If we walk together some distance down the road, we are bound to eventually disappoint one another.
Every spouse worth their salt has disappointed the other spouse. The same is true for every parent and every child. We could add friend, kindred, employer, employee, and the list goes on.
When you are disappointed in another person or yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are a few that are on my mind about disappointment:
Did we expect too much from them? Maybe our expectations were based on our desires more than the other person’s capabilities, motivations, or knowledge of our desires. Many times, we never tell the person of what we expect—we just assume they will meet our expectations. Many marriages fail from this.
We need to be quick to give grace than criticism. Disappointment in ourselves is often harder to get over than disappointment in others. Whether it is us or others, let’s give everyone a little grace. We are all made of dirt and sometimes we get a little muddy.
People we admire from a distance, will disappoint up close. Celebrity-type admiration will greatly disappoint when we become familiar with them. Those we have heard about or who we may admire will ultimately disappoint when we really get to know them.
Our minds can inflate people or institutions to a point they are destined to fail our expectations. I have pastored churches for decades and have witnessed people somehow equating church to God and then becoming greatly disappointed in church because we were not perfect like God. Yes, it is Christ’s church, but it is made up of lowly imperfect people like me. Too many times we have seen early excitement degrade to disappointment and then to departure from the church. I am not talking about sinful conduct or genuine harsh treatment, but merely disappointment over unreasonable emotional expectations.
Most of us still act like children even if we are lumpy and bald. Maturity is a destination that is difficult to reach. Grownups continue to pout and frown if things do not go their way. We could greatly improve our relationships if we just grew up.
It is not necessary for us to always get our way. Eat at someone else’s restaurant of choice even if you do not like the food. If all your family are beach loving people and you are a mountain loving person—buy you a good book, buy sunscreen, and smile even if you have sand in inconvenient places.
Jesus, who knows us best has forgiven us and them. Those of us who are Christians have been forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross. If He has forgiven them, why should I withhold my forgiveness and become bitter?
I leave you with a scripture I often think about and pray that it will transform me into a better person. If we meditate on these verses and apply them to our lives, the environment around us will change. Maybe even the people around us will not be so easily disappointed in us.
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice./ And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NKJV).
By the way, if I have disappointed you—I am sorry! If you hang around too close for any length of time, I’ll probably do something to disappoint you again. Please keep in mind, I am a child made of dirt and sometimes I act silly and get muddy!
Yours on the Journey,
Harry L. Whitt