The startling power of disappointment to set you free

A year ago I went to a conference in the States and serendipitously got to host one of the speakers for a day. It was the stuff of dreams. When I said goodbye to said speaker at the end of that day she hugged me hard – held onto my arms – asked me with tears in her big bright eyes, ‘How can I pray for you?’

Knowing that I was in the presence of greatness, I responded with flawless eloquence:

‘Um. Um.’

So she said, ‘I tell you what – ’

And she made me a promise. The kind of promise that could change my life.

In the year that’s passed since that promise was made, the incredible woman who made it has taken on ISIS, pled the cause of Syrian refugees and done other world-changing, culture-shifting things. I can’t expect her to remember the girl from Africa who handed her bottled water for a day.

A week ago we spent four nights in the bush and it was the scoop of deep rest I needed to think about this and other things. To decide what to take with me as the year sprints to the finish, and what to leave behind in the quiet wild.

Andy Stanley often says how, in the gap between expectations [She’s gonna come through for me!] and experience [She didn’t come through for me], don’t assume the worst [She offered help she didn’t plan to give] but rather believe the best [She’s kind, generous, and very busy]. I asked God to help me see as He sees, so that I’ll do as He says. And I started thinking that, maybe, how we unwrap the gift of disappointment – how we fill the silence that yawns wide to swallow hope – makes all the difference.

So I’m leaving behind the disillusionment, and taking this:

Disappointment forces you to face the truth – which sets you free

Disappointment sobers you to see that, well, it is what it is, which empowers you because you’re not free to move forward in any direction until you’ve acknowledged where you’re standing, and why.

Disappointment drives you back to the God of hope

When the ground gives way, you scramble for Solid Rock. When things change, you cling to the One who doesn’t, ever. When the world goes too slow or too fast, it’s freeing to keep pace with the God who’s always right on time.

Disappointment reminds you that you’re always invited

So often we’re waiting to be invited to the main table, when we know Solomon was right: ‘Don’t demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great. It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace.’ (Proverbs 25:6-7)

And another thing about tables, and invitations:

We talk about the Last Supper like it was final when really it was just the beginning. Jesus was starting something – the first of many suppers scattered luminous across continents and centuries. You and I, we’re always invited and always He can use us right where He has us seated. You’ve already been picked. You’re free to attend the dinner. That’s enough.

Disappointment fine tunes the Goldilocks factor

Relationships are never perfect, and seldom evenly matched or seamlessly reciprocal, all the time. In our connections with friends, family, colleagues or acquaintances, it can feel as if we’re getting too much or too little. Our expectations are uncomfortably exceeded or not quite met. That’s just the ordinary ebb and flow of ordinary humans’ emotions and circumstances. The sooner we make peace with that – and extend to others the grace we desperately need ourselves – the happier we’ll be.

But we can still do the best we can to make our connections as beautiful and as God-glorifying as possible. We can own the truth that excellent relationships don’t just happen, and that constantly managing our interactions takes courage, deliberate selflessness, and the discernment to read people right – and meet them in the midst of their story. We can trust God to regulate the flow of our friendships and relationships because He knows what we need, and when. We can intentionally be someone else’s Goldilocks factor – not too much or too little, too soft or too hard, too hot or too cold – but just right.

We all find ourselves on the giving and receiving end of interventions, interactions, reactions and disappointments.

In them all, God is enough.

And He has set us free.

. . .

Thanks so very much for reading. Always love connecting with you here, or on Facebook or Twitter.

More on some books and free stuff over here.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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