What Disappointment Teaches Us

Let-downs. Broken promises. Betrayals. Call it what you will, but one word can sum all these up in the very feeling we get: Disappointment. It can be an ugly feeling, eating away at our very core like a gnawing sensation from our stomach. As unpleasant and unhappy we may feel from disappointments, there is (believe it or not) a silver lining to this grey cloud. Most of the time, that silver lining comes in the form of actual lessons we learn from the experience. I have a very recent example of such a situation.

Over the course of 10 years, I had developed a friendship with someone I met at work that I had hoped would blossom into something beyond collegial camaraderie. We met approximately once or twice a week and chatted about life, our jobs, and family. We worked in different departments, but our offices were close and I figured why not make nice with the person sharing our same floor space in the building. This friend happened to be a commissioned officer in the National Guard, and was actually working for the university as a Military Science assistant professor, and Army recruiter. I learned a lot in those 10 years, not just about my friend, but about how the U.S. military works.

Two years ago, my friend told me he would be reassigned to a different institution, but that he was not willing to go. A month after he told me this, he mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) stopped coming to work. Rumors among his immediate colleagues began to surface that he had committed an act of insubordination to his commanding officer and was given a choice to retire (a nice way of saying “forced retirement”). While there was no evidence of the rumors being true, what was disappointing to me was that my friend never once confided in me that he would not be returning. Even more disappointing was that he cut all ties in our communication.

No replies to my text messages. No replies to my emails. Forget social media, since he was so old school that he didn’t like touching computers and barely learned how to operate his new iPhone that his wife bought him. He just vanished. I was disappointed that I felt more strongly about our friendship than he apparently did. I also felt betrayed. The lesson I learned, my silver lining, is that I learned something from him over the course of 10 years, and it was not time that was wasted in the long run.

Each of us can and have learned from the disappointments in our lives, even more so if that disappointment ends a relationship like my experience showed. An article written by J.B. Cachila in the Life section of Christian Today points to some lessons we can take from disappointments, but from the standpoint the prophet Samuel of King Saul (see http://www.christiantoday.com/article/3.lessons.that.we.can.learn.from.samuels.disappointment.with.saul/89085.htm for full article). These lessons, are still applicable today in any situation and for any person (royals and otherwise):

Lesson #1:  Feeling Sadness over someone who has disappointed us is natural and completely okay… but don’t stay there. Mourn if you must, but remember that tomorrow is a new day and with each new day is a new beginning. Self-pity and woe will not serve you or help you move forward.

Lesson #2:  The show must go on. Just because someone has not followed through or something fell through (e.g., a broken promise), things still have to get done and life continues on. You (and me) continue to exist beyond the sting of disappointment. Put your big girl pants on and walk on like a boss!

Lesson #3:  Do not beat yourself up for someone else’s failure. Recognize your role in what you can control, and change THAT. But do not blame yourself for something that you did not do. Likewise, do not give more power to a situation you cannot change.forgiveness_2

Disappointment and lessons learned from it can happen to anyone. In The Last Prophet, Michael’s Mission (Book Two), one of the main characters experienced great disappointment in how he handled a situation with the prophetess, Sophia Randall. Sophia’s guardian protector, Gabriel, felt sadness and disappointment in a particular situation and felt very cast out. Though he poured his heart out before the Tabernacle, it took the encouragement, reassurance, and reality check of his brother to help see the guardian protector through and to profess the truth to the prophetess about their future and the mission they shared.

While some of our disappointments may not be as monumental as the main characters of my books, they still happen. If you are reading this blog, then my guess is that your survival rate from disappointments you’ve experienced in the past has been 100%. The human spirit is incredibly resilient, and able to move beyond set-backs. That is all they are… set-backs, with little or no lasting permanence. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill you will make you stronger.” Enough said.

What lessons have you learned from disappointments? Comment in the space provided.

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