By Randi Peck
“Babe, I need you to help me by just letting me be upset sometimes.”
When I brought this up to my husband, it wasn’t because of a lack of patience or a carelessness that he had displayed when I was feeling let down. Rather, like most husbands, his natural tendency is to want to save the day and come up with solutions for my sadness. If I’m frustrated with my body, he tells me I’m beautiful or buys me a dress. If I’m overwhelmed with the kids, he’ll offer to do bedtime.
These gestures are obviously amazing and appreciated. But I could see an unhealthy pattern that had been playing out for the entirety of our relationship. I was looking to him as a functional savior. And any savior but Jesus Christ will eventually let us down.
When it came turn for him to express disappointment, I was just as guilty: my default reaction was to take his burdens personally. To assume myself as the cause, and beat myself up over how messy our home is or how loud our kids are.
This inevitably placed me in the victim chair, where my husband had to affirm me, and we BOTH found ourselves a discouraged mess.
Oh, what a useless cycle we frequently spun ourselves into.
But there is one simple diagnostic question I’ve found to be profoundly helpful, when it comes to discerning whether or not I’m walking in my resurrected identity:
Am I disappointed?
I would ask you the same: Are you disappointed?
Has life as a mom felt empty? Are you just surviving until girls night, every Tuesday? Have you found yourself frequently resenting your spouse as they “get” to leave for work, each morning?
Or what about your marriage— not what you expected it would be, when you said “I do” two months ago, two years ago, twenty years ago? Did you think he’d forever be enraptured by your beauty, and instead he’s watching football commercials while you’re in your pajamas?
Do you get depressed when you look in the mirror? Has too much sun and too little sunscreen wrought wrinkles that can’t be undone? Perhaps breastfeeding, weight gain or aging have devastated the image you once enjoyed?
Are you about ready to switch churches? Fed up with the pastor who forgot your name? Or perhaps the small group who said all the wrong things at the wrong times?
Every time we find ourselves disappointed, it is a sign that we have placed our worth and our worship in something other than him. Because everything will disappoint us. Everyone will disappoint us… EXCEPT. JESUS.
“…and we exult in hope of the glory of God… and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Hope in anything but God can and will crush us, eventually. But hope in God will NOT disappoint us. A basic truth that changes everything. Because of this promise:
- We can now view our disappointment as an opportunity.
Every disappointment is a chance to stop and recalibrate our attention and affections, because we’ve clearly been setting our eyes on something other than Christ.
When I feel let down, God is trying to open my eyes to an uncashed check in my wallet. He is gently revealing that I am missing out on the riches of grace and the spiritual blessings available to me. (Ephesians 1:3)
I believe most of us sense that there’s more to life in Christ. That we’re missing something. But when the chance arises to experience the “more” that God freely offers, we turn anywhere but him.
We need to grow in discernment! Even making a list of some of your most common sources of disappointment (ex: our spouse, parenting, friends, health, etc.) can help identify these opportunities. Or thinking through some of the symptoms that tend to appear when you’ve been setting your eyes on the wrong savior (ex: venting negativity, scrolling through social media, etc.).
And then pray that the next time you’re feeling let down, God’s Spirit would remind you to transfer that hope to him. Expect him to show you how he is all that you need, right then and there. He will be enough for you.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
- We can offer hope to others who are disappointed.
Not only should we keep our eyes open to our own disappointment, but also to the crushed spirits of those around us! There are countless people in your life who are heavy with disappointment. Every Sunday, I guarantee that someone sitting next to you is choking on the rubble of their freshly toppled idols.
When our friends start to express discouragement, whether it’s over their parenting or their health, we’ll be tempted to come up with “solutions”. But these are opportunities to listen to their pain, and then with compassion remind them of the hope of the gospel— the good news that whatever disappointment they are feeling will be outshone with the glory of Christ.
As for the conversation I cited above, my husband wasn’t so sure about my idea at first:
“Well, I would rather you just tell me what’s wrong, though…”
But he knew that the point wasn’t to just “let me be upset”— it was to retrain our minds to look to Jesus instead of one another. Nearly nine months later, I have to say that it is a beautiful place we’re growing into— a place of using daily disappointment to point one another to the Lord.
When our eyes are on Christ, we no longer try to assuage one another with affirmation or distraction. Doing so, we’ve realized, will only feed whatever lie it is that we’re believing.
Instead, we get to point each other to the Hope that does not disappoint. We intercede in prayer, and then we remind one another of who we are in Christ— loved, made new, accepted, satisfied.
I can assure you it does NOT come naturally! It’s not always what I want to hear in the moment. And we’re still extremely capable of spinning ourselves back into that useless cycle.
But I am becoming more and more attuned to the fact that those moments are opportunities to experience the resurrected life. Truly, Jesus does not disappoint.