Holidays can be a big disappointment trap. We set a lot of expectations on ourselves and those around us. We also have their expectations imposed on us, some more than others. Emotions are running and high and kids are running sugar-high, which adds up to a lot of opportunities for disappointment to jump in and highjack the holiday season. Suddenly everything seems hard, nothing’s going right and no one seems to care to fix it. Once you’ve agreed with disappointment, it’s really hard to pull yourself out of that pit. Like most traps that are set for us, it opens the door to a host of things you want nothing to do with – for some that’s anger & isolation, for others it’s depression & anxiety. It’s a slippery slope that leads nowhere good.
And it’s not necessarily the holiday season or being surrounded by family that triggers disappointment – we are broken humans living in a world full of broken humans, and disappointment thrives in brokenness. There is a way to live and love and thrive, without delving into disappointment. You can have relationships with broken humans and not be disappointed. It takes practice and intention, but it is possible. If this has been a running theme in your life, if this is a sensitive area for you and you’re tempted to click delete right now – hear me out. Try it for a week before you dismiss it.
The word dis-appointment is rooted in the idea that you are being removed from office. It means you’ve lost your position, your appointment. You’re saying that this circumstance, or this other person, has removed you from the position you thought you were in. We need to see it for what it really is! At the core, it’s about identity. Any time we let a person or circumstance, anything other than God tell us who we are, we are standing on dangerous ground. That power belongs in God’s hands alone. If your security can be shaken by any other person, by any holiday expectations or changing circumstances, you are vulnerable to disappointment. And Beloved, it’s not about expecting the worst from people. In fact it’s not about the other people at all. This is a you and God issue, a heart issue, an identity issue. There is no word that can be spoken, no insult thrown, no series of events that can touch the truth of who you are. It takes some practice to build up this spiritual muscle – lots of reps and sets, practicing the habit of letting God’s voice be the loudest one in your head and in your heart. So the next time you feel disappointed in something or someone, take it to the cross. Ask God to show you the truth. Ask Him to expose the lie in the disappointment. Ask Him to speak to you about who you are.
The sneaky thing about disappointment is that it loves to creep in at the end of the day, the end of a trip, the end of a season. You may not even be able to pinpoint it, but disappointment will tell you that instead of celebrating you should criticize. Instead of walking in gratefulness you should wade into depression, or anger. Disappointment is the lie that steals the gold in your history, and stops you from embracing a future that maybe looks different than you thought it would. But as we embrace truth, as we let God speak to each disappointment and reveal the bigger picture, we begin to realize that disappointing things can happen without changing who we are. They begin to roll off of us like water on a duck’s back, sliding off without sinking in.
A note to those of you who have felt disappointed by God. Those of you who stopped trusting Him a long time ago because of the hurt you’ve lived through. Disappointed by His absence, by His silence, by His indifference or His punishment. He is inviting you into a new season, a new understanding of your history together. It’s time to take off those lenses of disappointment. He’s trading truth for lies, He’s opening your eyes to see that He was there all along, that He never left your side and He never will. He’s showing you that He’s been writing love throughout your story, that He’s never looked away, He knows you fully and loves you completely. Allow Him to heal your past and restore your hope. He is faithful!
So let’s walk into this season eyes open, hearts full, because we know who we are. Let’s keep thankfulness on our lips even when things start to go wrong. Let’s allow the Father to dictate our expectations, and allow Him to speak truth over any lies that fly our way over the holiday table. Let’s be leaders of hope and speakers of joy. Let’s love well.