I’ve been thinking a lot about disappointment. Our family was supposed to go on a camping trip with some friends today, but when we woke up this morning our youngest child had a fever, so together with some other factors it was the last straw to cause us to postpone the trip…again. On a completely different level, my sin through lust gives me frequent cause for disappointment with myself. Really, June is a month that seems particularly set up to disappoint me, with the structure of the school year gone and the structure of VOICE not yet upon me, yet lots of responsibilities and tasks needing to be done in an environment where I’m not sure how to prioritize or get things done. I need to do some logistical planning for VOICE, create a teaching syllabus for the Fall semester, revise philosophy papers and submit them to various places, fix our house and car, take advantage of the opportunity to spend more tiem with the family…etc. Meanwhile, since I’m home all the time now, Karen’s and the kids’ needs are much more immediate and pressing, so I feel more pressure than before to stop everything and help them with whatever the current crisis is (and there are many crises every hour, believe me). So I end up disappointed in myself for not getting more done or not reading that book to Isaac that he was begging me to read, or not getting out the door earlier in an attempt to get away and do some computer work…etc.
Disappointment, and disappointment in myself, isn’t necessarily bad. It just means that some expectation I have hasn’t been fulfilled or I haven’t achieved something I desire. There are some legitimate expectations that I should have, especially of myself, and there are some things that really are valuable and I should desire them. But disappointment is one of those emotions that can start to take over, making me feel like everything is going wrong. And that’s probably not true.
A realistic perspective can be hard to maintain – sometimes a lot of things are going wrong, sometimes a lot of things are legitimately disappointing, but for the Christian, that’s never the end of the story. There is a great good thing that we have, something that is just shocking and impossible, but true: God loves us! And no matter what else goes wrong, that’s really enough to overcome it all:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:28)
Further, there’s a very visible and pressing way that God puts that love into our lives: His people around us. I need to stay connected to the Church and God’s people, letting them see where I’m hurting so that their love (which is really God’s love) can touch me where I need it:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)