Recently, I’ve been reminded how much disappointment stings. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try, I can’t prevent disappointments from happening. However, the lessons that I’ve been learning through this recent disappointment in my life will hopefully encourage you as you navigate disappointment in your own life. Here are a few things to remember when life disappoints you:
1. You can’t have everything you want.
I genuinely don’t want this to sound harsh or unfeeling; I only want it to sound raw and honest. Think back to your childhood when you were probably told “You can’t have everything you want.” Maybe your parents told you that when you asked for a toy that you really didn’t need or a candy bar that was definitely going to make you more hyper than you already were.
Perhaps we’re only told things like “You can’t have everything you want” when we’re children because we’re expected to make things happen when we enter adulthood. As adults, if we don’t have something we want, we can certainly go out and get it, right?
Well, not exactly. As I’m learning through a variety of unexpected disappointments as an adult, I can’t have everything I want—whether I’m 10 years old or 100 years old. But honestly, the more we experience disappointment, the more prepared we’ll be when the next disappointment comes.
2. It’s okay to be bummed.
I can’t even count how many writing-related disappointments I’ve experienced in my life. Ever since I got my first rejection letter from a publisher when I was 11 years old (yes, I expected to become a published author before I even became a teenager), I’ve had to learn to be okay with “no.” This sometimes-devastating word “no” is simply part of life, whether you’re a writer or not.
When my writing is rejected, my initial reaction is to feel disappointed. And there’s nothing wrong with feeling bummed or even mourning the loss of the opportunity. It can be healthy to process disappointment as a loss.
The only problem with taking time to process disappointment is that it can lead to stewing—dwelling on the negative, complaining/whining, and being unable to move on. Don’t let life’s disappointments automatically become an opportunity to throw a pity party. Those “woe is me” moments honestly won’t help you process disappointment; they’ll just keep you trapped in the past.
3. Disappointment can lead us to exactly where we need to be.
This is the reality about every single disappointment I’ve experienced in life: what could have been wasn’t what God wanted for me. This applies to the recent disappointment that I’ve been processing. Even though I wasn’t expecting things to turn out the way that they did, I have to trust that God is in this situation and that this—not having what I initially wanted—is His perfect will for me.
In times of disappointment, we can’t see where the “no” will lead. I understand how hard it is to trust God in those moments. But we have to move on, friends. One day, if not in this life then in the life to come, we’ll know exactly why God steered us away from things that seemed good and why He steered us toward things that seemed hard.
It’s all for our good, friends. I promise.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 NASB1995)