Disappointed. It’s a word I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. We have so many disappointments in life.
There are the small disappointments from events that don’t seem to last long enough or come often enough, like fireworks, rainbows, falling snowflakes – the ones as big as a silver dollar that float down like lace. There are the larger disappointments like the restaurant meal or the show that wasn’t as good as we thought it would be.
There are the disappointments that are caused by the circumstances around us that we don’t have any control over. The pension fund that isn’t growing the way it used to, the aging house that takes up so much time and money lately.
There are the disappointments we experience because of the people in our lives. The person who cuts us off in traffic. The people who didn’t return the lost wallet with all our pictures. The people who didn’t keep their promises. Then there are the very painful disappointments – the betrayal of a friend, the spouse who doesn’t want to be married to you anymore.
As I was thinking, I realized disappointment happens when something or someone doesn’t live up to our expectations. We all expect the next meal, the next show to be bigger and better than the last one. We expect the pension fund to grow steadily, the house to age at what we consider to be a reasonable pace (not at all). We expect everyone to be polite, honest, honorable, reliable, loyal and love us unreservedly.
I decided to be honest and admit that there are times that I have been and am disappointed with God. When I delved deeper, I had to admit my disappointment arises when God doesn’t do what I want Him to. I wanted my mother to attend my wedding and be queen for a day. I wanted my husband to grow old with me, not with someone else. I also had to admit that God knows more than I do, that He sees how everything in everyone’s life fits together. In other words, He knows best.
I switched my thinking to the people who have been disappointed in me and my words or actions or performance. Some of them were justified in being disappointed in me for I had let them down. Others were not, for their expectations were unrealistic – like my father being disappointed in me for “leaving” him to marry.
A light bulb went on as I realized how unrealistic so many of my expectations were and are. Events, circumstances and people are not perfect. Few things in this life are perfect. Only heaven will be completely perfect. No person in this world is perfect. Only God is perfect. If it’s not fair for other people to expect me to be perfect, then it’s also not fair for me to expect them to be perfect, or for me to expect myself to be perfect.
Ah. How often I berate myself for a real fault. How more often I berate myself for a perceived fault – a false expectation. Quite a few of my disappointments are regrets. I said the wrong thing. I didn’t say anything. I could have done more. I should have done less. I’ve asked God and people for forgiveness, so there’s no guilt, but I still regret having done something that needed forgiving. (Perhaps somewhat like Paul who called himself the very least of all saints in Ephesians 3:8).
My next thought was that if so many people have been disappointed in me, and if I have been disappointed in me, then surely God is disappointed in me. Suddenly I realized that while God may be disappointed by what I think, say, feel or do, He is never disappointed in me. He is disappointed by some of the choices I make, but He is not disappointed in me. He lovingly created me. He lovingly helps me and takes care of me. His expectations are perfect because He knows exactly what I will do and why. With God, performance is always completely separate from the person. So no matter how my performance may be lacking, as long as I confess my shortcomings and truly repent, God is pleased and will work in me to transform me.
So if God can accept me as I am, then I can accept me as I am, and I can accept others as they are, and I can accept unchangeable circumstances as they are. Freedom!