The other morning I woke up disappointed, my wife had promised me that she would do something the night before. But we arrived home late and having chased children all day and gone shopping she collapsed exhausted into bed without doing what she said she would do.
I went to bed sad that she hadn’t done what she said she would do but I forgave it and went to sleep. But after she woke me up at 5:00 AM to lower our awning during a storm, I could not go back to sleep. I kept thinking of my disappointment. I did not want to go back to bed. I let my disappointment ruin my sleep. I was so resentful that when she finally did what she said she was going to do I let the disappointment ruin my gratitude for it.
Disappointment is not sinful. We live in a world filled with sinners and sin, there are going to be plenty of times when we are disappointed.
What is sinful is allowing that disappointment to fester into discontent or resentment.
What is sinful is using that disappointment as leverage to be selfish and disappoint others.
There are ample opportunities in life for disappointment to rear its ugly head. In marriage, in parenting, in work. Any place where sinners interact is a place where disappointment can take up a comfortable residence. Everywhere that we have expectations of others is a place we can be disappointed.
Don’t be like me and not voice those expectations. And really don’t expect others to randomly know what you expect and meet those expectations as though it was their idea.
Does that person know your expectations of them? Does that person know how strongly expectation is? Do you express your expectations in a healthy way or do you expect that that person is just going to meet your desires of their own volition?
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure that your wife or your child or your coworker do not make it their goal in life to make your life miserable. I doubt that they make it their purpose in life to disappoint you. Sometimes they just don’t know your expectation. Sometimes they just don’t know how strongly you expected it. Often, they may not know how to go about it or they’re just not going to do it until you press the matter and make it important to them.
Even in places where we don’t have to interact with people we can find ourselves disappointed. When rain washes out your evening walk. When weeds choke out our favorite garden plants. Really, anytime we don’t get our way is a time in which disappointment can take hold.
The best way to avoid or turn away that disappointment is to adjust your expectations. Understand the fallibility of those you interact with. Understand the fickle nature of the universe around us and realize that it doesn’t revolve around you. Nature will hurt you, people will hurt you.
Adjusting your expectations doesn’t mean that you become a pessimist and expect others to fail. It just means that you anticipate the possibility and have the grace to accept failure when it occurs.
When my wife fell asleep before the lights of the trailer were even out, I responded sinfully by holding onto her failure towards me and letting it fester into resentment. Instead, I should have forgiven her and given her grace. I should have adjusted my expectations (she was exhausted) and let it go. Then, when she did get around to doing it, I could have enjoyed it and been grateful instead of grouchy.
Disappointment is a fact of life. The better we learn how to handle it the better off we will be. Adjust your expectations of fallen man and learn to forgive. Only then can you begin slaying the beast called disappointment.