In Response to Disappointment

I was no stranger to that queasy feeling – a nausea deep in the pit of my stomach. I’d had it during my pep flags try out, at the end of my year book interview, on my first date. I wasn’t getting sick and I hadn’t eaten anything growing mold. No, I was anxiously waiting. Waiting on results. Waiting on hope.

Today I was waiting on an announcement. For the past few weeks, Tim and I have been feverishly entering a photo contest to win a trip to a family ministry conference in California. Various circumstances had made winning this contest our only hope of attending this year. And for various reasons, we wanted this trip, this experience, real bad: 1. The conference is fantastic. 2. We could both use the spiritual/ministry refreshment. 3. It’s California, and that means seeing friends and loved ones (and sunshine and In N Out and sunshine…).

So, I waited, and obsessively checked Instagram and went for a walk and tried to read a book, all with that queasy feeling growing more intense. Four thirty rolled around and I saw the announcement as my Twitter feed refreshed. The congrats was all in caps, but my name wasn’t next to it. The queasy feeling was quickly replaced by disappointment and a few tears.

I texted my disappointment to a couple people and just barely resisted the urge to make brownies or eat a whole pint of salted caramel gelato (you think I’m kidding…). None of this was about winning, it was about not losing out on the conference and California. Now that I’ve been able to sit with that reality for a few hours, God is revealing and reminding me about a few things:

Disappointment

  • I’m suffering more from a sense of entitlement than from disappointment. It’s hard not to feel like God messed up, like we deserved to go to the conference and He let us down. That kind of attitude belies a sense of entitlement that is completely unfounded.
  • Since I saw that tweet, I’ve been a total gloomy goose, but that attitude isn’t productive either. No one is going to retract their decision because I pouted enough.
  • Just like worry, prolonged disappointment doesn’t add even a second to the day – it distracts us from God and detracts from our quality of life.
  • In the same vein, the time I spent striving to win and obsessing about whether we’d be able to go or not didn’t add anything to my life or guarantee success in any way.
  • God doesn’t owe us anything. I actually caught myself thinking, “How is God going to make up for this?” Yeesh…
  • “God must have other plans” doesn’t mean He has other plans to get us what we want. Often times the “no” is the other, better plan that God has for us.

That last point is the hardest for me to accept, because it puts the kibosh on my perfectly laid plans. It’s further proof that my desires don’t always match up with God’s desires.

Though I couldn’t resist scarfing some Pretzel M&Ms and briefly considered the legitimacy of creating a Kickstarter campaign to fund a trip to this conference, I am choosing to mold my response to this disappointment around the truths above.

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9 thoughts on “In Response to Disappointment

    1. Thanks Jessiqua!I’m still struggling with some of the letting go aspects of disappointment. Maybe I should watch Frozen…

  1. Oh, so sorry Emily! “God must have other plans” doesn’t mean He has other plans to get us what we want. Often times the “no” is the other, better plan that God has for us.” GREAT reminder. And for the record, salted caramel gelato sounds like and EXCELLENT idea :)

  2. Wow, what a beautiful and true post. I felt a similar, deep disappointment earlier this year regarding a job – wallowed briefly over a huge steak my husband brought home for me (food always helps, doesn’t it?), then prayed and prayed for acceptance. Shifting from “I didn’t get it” and feeling wronged to “God has a better idea” wasn’t instantaneous, but I love your quote – Often times the “no” is the other, better plan that God has for us – so true.

    1. Thanks Jessica. I’m sorry about your job (and totally understand the wallowing…), but I love that your eventual response was prayer. And not just one prayer, but prayer after prayer. I need to do that as well because I still catch myself wallowing sometimes…

  3. Emily — Wow … I found myself nodding the entire way through! I appreciate your transparency! There’s an element of loss/grief in disappointment that’s hard to shake. Perhaps that’s what makes entitlement so difficult to overcome?

    1. Yes, Cheri, I agree. Most people, me included, try to avoid grief, so we cling to the things that help us accomplish that.

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