Not much is harder than dealing with a huge disappointment. Those times when you dared to hope, when your expectations were high and the world came crashing down around you. They leave you feeing winded, as you are forced to come to terms with a path that you did not choose and now much learn to accept. Sometimes we ask a lot or ‘why’ questions, trying to find the answers. However, even when we find them they rarely hold the healing that we want.
If you are going through a huge disappointment, here is what I would say to you today.
1. Its ok to grieve.
It is natural to feel a deep sense of grief when you have lost hope. The Psalms are full of cries out to God, ‘Where are you? Why did this happen?’ Don’t feel ashamed of your emotions but accept that you have lost something that was important to you. When I am facing a large disappointment I allow time for mourning. I decide that I will be upset for one day and will get away and go for a walk and mourn. However, after that day I am no longer allowed to sulk. I want to mourn well but then move to positive action. Mourn well and then draw a line.
2. Don’t build an identity out of disappointment
Disappointment is an event, not an identity. Just because you failed does not make you a failure. Just because you have not succeeded yet, does not mean that you never will. Losing doesn’t make you a loser. If your dreams were easy then they would not be worth fighting for. This moment does not define you. Nothing worthwhile ever came easily. Everyone who ever achieved anything worthwhile in life had these exact same moments, these exact same feelings and they kept going. Take heart because there is so much more ahead for you.
3. Never quit after a disappointment
This is not the moment to stop. Don’t give up. Get back in the fight. Sure, you took a bloody nose but you are a fighter. God doesn’t use these disappointments to beat us into giving up our dreams. Don’t question in the shadow what Jesus told you in the sunshine. Don’t justify walking away, don’t develop the habit of checking out when it is tough. Instead dig deep and push through. Don’t make a permanent decision out of temporary emotions. This is just a season and it will pass. Never. Give. Up.
4. Find the opportunity
I promise that in this there is an opportunity for blessing in this. Every storm wraps a gift and if you look for it you will usually find it. Sometimes it is a lesson learnt, wisdom acquired, maybe it is the strength you developed, it is a door that opened unexpectedly. Maybe this was the wakeup call that caused you to stop ignoring what was right in front of you. Write down the ways that this has made you stronger. Write down what you would now do differently. Look for new possibilities as you are forced to innovate and dream in new ways to deal with the problem you face. Get creative because something beautiful will come out of this. Find the gold.
5. Don’t lose hope.
Proverbs says ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick.’ Notice that is doesn’t say that your heart grows sick when you are disappointed or when you don’t see your hope fulfilled. You might never see what you are fighting for happen. However, there is something about the act of laying aside hope that causes our hearts to suffer and our lives fade to grey. Dare to dream again. I always say that the best definition of hope is that Jesus is working on your behalf even when you can’t see it. God uses all things for good and this is no different. The best is still to come. So hope again. Dream again. And push forward. There is so much more ahead for you and when you see it, it will make all of this worthwhile!