by Jenn Hale
November 28, 2018
Thanksgiving day I went for a walk on the trail near my house. As I walked, I processed the disappointment of being alone on this particular day. The kids were with their dad this Thanksgiving and although I had received many kind offers from friends and family to spend the day with them, I had declined them all.
The last few weeks had been absolutely jam-packed with my kids in a school play, and with me working full time, putting in volunteer hours at the play and having visiting relatives stay in our house. Time alone to rest and clean and prepare for the coming month sounded better than putting on a happy face and spending time with others while missing my own kids.
And my instincts were correct. Being alone, resting and being in nature was the better choice, but it didn’t take away the disappointment. This is not how holidays were supposed to be.
As I processed, there was a moment when I even felt guilty for being disappointed. And as I wrestled with these thoughts, I concluded that somewhere down the line we got the idea that it is wrong for Christian women to be disappointed, and that the better choice is to smile through the pain and make the best of whatever lot we are given in life.
Yet the Bible seems to contradict this notion. Instead, we see that God is eager for us to invite Him into our disappointment. We are given many authentic examples of those who did this well in the books of Job, Psalms, Ruth and more.
Perhaps you are experiencing disappointment brought on by death, divorce, a recent diagnosis or a damaged relationship, or perhaps your disappointment stems from life just not turning out to be all that you thought it would be. Either way, your disappointment is real and I’m right there with you, sister. And so is He.
That Thanksgiving day, as I continued to walk and process, I reminded myself of the truths I’ve realized as I’ve traveled this road of disappointment brought on by the failure of my marriage.
Disappointment is often the vehicle which brings us to the feet of Jesus. I wish this weren’t the case. I wish it were true that on the brightest and easiest of days I am naturally finding my strength in Jesus. But more often than not, it’s the hard days that teach me to be dependent on Him.
Experiencing disappointment in our own lives increases our capacity to walk through pain with others. Before we experience major disappointment or pain in our own lives, we are ill equipped to relate to anyone else walking through pain. Not only ill equipped, but most likely we also avoid pain as much as possible. Speaking for myself, although I wouldn’t necessarily say that I now run toward pain, I would say that because of my experiences with loss, I am no longer frightened by it. I am learning to sit with those experiencing pain or disappointment without having to make it better or change the subject.
Disappointment paves the way for redemption. From the moment sin entered the world, disappointment has been inevitable. It is impossible not to be disappointed when face to face with our own sin or the sin of another, and it is impossible not to be disappointed when faced with death and decay. But where there is the presence of sin and death, there is the possibility of redemption.
One of my favorite songs, “Beautiful Things,” includes the line: You make beautiful things out of dust. This is redemption. Redemption looks like the renewing of sinful hearts, the reviving of weary hearts, and the Kingdom of God being established here on earth. It looks like God making beautiful things out of those in which we saw no beauty.
The holidays are upon us and odds are we will all be faced with disappointment at some point this season. So when this happens, invite Him in, know you are not alone, and join me in looking for the beauty.
Jenn is a mother, a friend and an introverted extrovert. (This means that she is a lover of walking the nature trail alone AND someone who loves forming and being part of community.)