Dealing With the Dreaded Monster of Disappointment 

The saddest picture I could find…

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. 

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Doubt and the Clouds of Doom

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:4-8

Doubt is destructive. It makes a person unstable and indecisive. It can lock you into a cycle of depression and feelings of inability. Doubt is anti-faith. Just like it’s ugly cousin anxiety, doubt can keep you chained up and numb to the good things you have been blessed with. 

On a recent trip to the “big city” (everything is big compared to Cloudcroft) my sinful tendency to doubt was thrown right in my face. The transmission on our truck began to act up and lights on the dash began flashing. Immediately my mind went to the worst possible scenarios. To my mind, there was no way the situation was going to work out well. What had been a fine day quickly became grumpiness and gloom. 

Indecisiveness is deadly. A few weeks back a rabbit darted in the road in front of us, made it across our lane, and changed its mind halfway through the other. It turned just in time to catch our rear dual. If that bunny had just committed to its choice to cross the road, rather than doubting its chances, we would not have been checking the dual for bunny that afternoon. 

We can all find ourselves like that bunny. If you find yourself running around indecisive and wishy-washy, you might want to ask yourself if you are doubting God’s Providence. 

God will not leave us lacking in anything, if we ask in faith. He won’t give us all of our wants but He promises to provide His child with all of their needs. Doubting this promise can lead us to stop asking Him for our needs altogether. And when we stop asking, we tend to go adrift. 

Don’t be a dead bunny, kill the doubt in your life before it kills you. 

The Adventure….Doesn’t Begin

Today was supposed to mark the beginning of our adventure to New Mexico. Of course, thanks to a snafu by the car dealer, our title has not been sent from VA to NM. So we are stuck in a holding pattern for the foreseeable future.

Which is fine.

This is fine
How I really feel

We are way behind on packing and cleaning, and it gives me time to do my new favorite pastime: driving Uber.

For a total of four nights now, I’ve driven around town and picked up people from all walks of life. Some are chatty, some are eerily quiet, most are somewhere in between. Some are drunk, some are just trying to get to or from work. I feel a bit like I am playing GTA in real life, picking up random people in random places and dropping them off in other random places, then watching the money counter scroll upwards. For an extrovert like me, this has been a pretty cool job.

I’m glad to have a little job to do, it distracts from the craziness of trying to get this show on the road. As if I didn’t have enough anxiety already, add a deadline and a really long drive and I’m getting crazy not being on the road. I made it to Arizona in three days last year. If it comes down to it, I can probably make NM in two…

I’ll keep you posted.

Anxiety: The Contentment Killer

Self-imposed (Acrylic on paper) 2016

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) 

Anxiety sucks. Thanks (but no thanks) to anxiety, most of the normally joy inducing events in my life have been reduced to numbness or paralyzing worry. Every bit of good news is given a caveat by my brain. Not much really makes me happy or excited. 

I don’t share this part of me much. I call it my douche-bag brain. It’s the part of my brain that whispers “I want to die” first thing in the morning. It’s the part of my brain that refuses to enjoy experiences because it tells me there are others who may not be enjoying the same things. It’s the part of my brain that won’t accept good news because it assumes that something horrible is going to happen. There is no such thing as good news, there’s always a catch. 

Very rarely do I ever exhibit outward signs of this anxiety. I’ve perfected my poker face and cool demeanor. But while my outside is calm, my inside is racing through every possible contingency and assuming 95% of them are doomed to some variety of failure. 

Now, for my chosen career this can be somewhat helpful. Having a good situational awareness is key to safe firefighting. Having the ability to process large amounts of data and creating contingencies for many outcomes is great to ensure everyone gets out alive. But in everyday living this pattern of thinking can be very exhausting and thoroughly fry one’s brain. 

Unfortunately (fortunately?) for me my brain has developed tactics for dealing with this issue of burnout. I go numb. I no longer get get excited for anything. I no longer get torn up by bad news. Every bit of information is taken in with the same bit of “meh”. Food, drink, and even sex is not as enjoyable since even the physical data gets a filter. 

This year I have resolved to be more content. But that contentment won’t come if I am anxious. Contentment is not numbness or limp acceptance of one’s circumstances. Contentment is a peaceful understanding that one’s circumstances are exactly where one is Providentially supposed to be. Contentment is joy (not happiness happiness necessarily, they are two different things) in all circumstances good and bad. 

Numbness is not joy. If I am to be content I must fight my brain for control of my responses. I must learn to respond to data and not merely react. I must learn to take every errant thought captive and submit it to intense scrutiny and correction. I must train my brain to accept physical pleasures as good gifts of God. I must learn to get excited again about good news and truly mourn for the bad. 

Now, if my brain would not add “stop being anxious” to the list of things to be anxious about, I probably would be able to get rid of it. For now, it’s just going to be prayer and supplication. So far that has seemed to work out for me. God does provide. The more I trust Him, the more He has provided. 

Anxiety sucks, but the more I live, the more I’m proved how wrong it is. DB brain may be a loudmouth jerk, but he’s also a liar . I know that all will work out. I know that eventually, despite what my anxiety says, life does tend to find a way to proceed without too much complete failure. Every day is a test of my will to kill this. I intend to win.