I have a child that does not deal well with disappointment. When something doesn’t go as planned, it is hard to ‘bounce back’. Children deal with disappointment by fussing, complaining, pouting, yelling and often crying. As a parent, I have learned to be careful what I promise to avoid disappointment. I just can’t deal with it! Yesterday, this child was disappointed – and there was NO climbing out of the despair. Nothing I could say or do was going to help.
Ten years ago, we were on a family vacation in Newfoundland, Canada. One of the days was spent on a sightseeing trip to a bird sanctuary. It was a spectacular day. We walked across a beautiful meadow to the edge of magnificent ocean bluffs, where we saw thousands of puffins and other incredible sights. Daddy and others took turns carrying our son on their shoulders on the way to the ocean view.
On the way back, he wanted to walk and while he took his time picking up rocks and pointing out all the goat poop, the others got ahead. It was just the two of us left behind. Well, we didn’t get very far before he decided he wanted a piggy-back ride back, just like before. There was no way I could manage it and told him he would have to walk on his own. After arguing and fussing, he decided there was only one thing left to do to express his disappointment…
As every good mother would do… I got my camera and took a picture!
Yesterday, I was driving in the car (by myself, for a reprieve) I started thinking about how I handle disappointment. No, I don’t stomp my feet, cry and wail, or throw myself to the ground (much), but I do often get ‘stuck’, especially as it relates to my relationship with God. I feel like I should get answers for my problems, immediate understanding or a break, for crying out loud! Then it hit me, I am like a little child at times, whining “why me!” when things don’t go my way.
Life is filled with disappointments – broken promises, shattered relationships, opportunities lost, betrayal, hurt feelings. It is something we cannot avoid. But how we respond to these disappointments is a sign of our maturity (or immaturity, as the case may be).
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not there yet. I’m on a learning curve. But if I treat God or even others as though they ‘owe me something’, I am not living a life of faith. In my book club this week, Kay Warren shared her heart in the book Dangerous Surrender, and her experience dealing with the brokenness of this world. When she encountered a Bengali woman, grieving the disappointments of her life as she lay on her deathbed, she “offered the one thing I had in my power to offer – my presence, my very self. I offered her the gift that everyone can give – the gift that costs more than our money or even our energy and time – our very presence.”
That is what God desires us to do, give Him the gift of presence – time with Him, where he can heal the wounds of our disappointments, and not just for our own benefit, but so we can reach out to others suffering as we are. “So I don’t offer a new and improved ‘me’, I offer him”.
There’s nothing better that we can give.
“So he became their Savior. In all their troubles, he was troubled, too. He didn’t send someone else to help them. He did it himself, in person.” Isaiah 63:8-9 MSG