I have the opportunity to sit with many people who are experiencing disappointment in life. Many times, even when we are doing the best we know how, we find ourselves disappointed with where we find ourselves in life at the time.
Life happens. It could be tragedy or a minor set back, but it hurts. Pain is always relative to context. And if we don’t know how to respond, we can have a very hard time recovering.
Having faced disappointment many times in my own life, I’ve learned a few things about navigating through these times. I hope some of my wisdom gleaned through experience can help you.
Here are seven pieces of wisdom for the disappointments of life:
Keep your heart close to God. That’s important always, but especially during times of disappointment. The Psalmist said, “God is close to the brokenhearted.” God is most likely at work in ways you cannot presently see or understand. Often disappointment ushers in some of the greatest seasons of God for your life. Don’t miss it by not listening to Him.
Wait for your emotions to heal before you make major decisions. Recall how the prophet Elijah was ready to die during a difficult period (1 Kings 19). Yet God still had great plans for his life and ministry. We tend to make irrational decisions immediately following times of disappointment. Let some time pass and make sure you are thinking rationally again before you implement major changes in your life.
Don’t quit doing what you know to do. While you shouldn’t make major changes, an equally dangerous tendency to give up or stall until the next opportunity arrives or life gets “easier.” You may need a resting period, but keep your mind and hands busy doing what there is to do today. It will help protect your heart and mind from the attack of fears and doubts. And do things that keep you alive and healthy. Eat, sleep, exercise.
Don’t allow a disappointment to determine your sense of self-worth. Read many of David’s Psalms (22, 69 and 121 are a few of my favorites) .You can read his despair—then as He reminds himself of God’s love and faithfulness, he is restored. Be restored to who you are as a child of God. Beloved. Let God and the people who know you best help determine your worth. It’s monumental worth. Yes, even today! You don’t have to be defined by your disappointment.
(And be on the lookout for signs of severe depression. Things like withdrawal, constant feelings of despair, severe worry, not eating, dark fears or thoughts, etc. Don’t resist professional help.)