Wikipedia defines disappointment like this: Disappointment is the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest.
A series of disappointments can lead to bitterness. I once heard someone compare bitterness and unforgiveness to drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgiving the person who has brought hurt and/or disappointment into your life is not so much for their sake as it is for your own — even if they don’t ask you to forgive them or ever say they are sorry.
The trouble with past hurts is that if some new injury is inflicted by the same person or a similar situation, you don’t have to only fight that new battle, but memories and wounds from former battles will resurface to magnify the new struggle.
I have been going through a long series of doctor’s appointments for a knee injury that happened over a year ago at school last May, when students accidentally knocked me down on the stairs and trampled on me. It wasn’t deliberate. It just happened as the crowd of students returning from break surged forward like a wave in motion that couldn’t be stopped.
Not only have I had to deal with the pain all this time, but also the frustration of being bounced from one place to another without any permanent resolution to the problem. I realize that my treatment (or lack thereof) is not a personal issue. It is all about business, with the dollar being the bottom line. Nothing that has taken place is toward me as an individual who happens to be suffering. I am just another case.
I hate that feeling of being utterly unimportant and insignificant, reduced to just another number. In our society, unfortunately, we have all become numbers and cases. The medical system, insurance claims, legal cases, business conflicts, investment losses, government policy — all are nothing personal, just business. It is very dehumanizing and demoralizing. It is disappointing.
I am so thankful that regardless of how insignificant my life might be to anyone else, I believe that the Creator of the Universe knows me by name, and that He cares for me in every way — injuries, disappointments, struggles, and heartaches. According to Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good,” – even my disappointments.
One of the most common themes of disappointment that I hear about is from people who have been hurt by the institution of “church.” One thing or the other happens to cause an individual to be totally offended or disillusioned and they let that disappointment become a wall that separates them from God’s love for them. They begin to look for all the imperfections they can find in church-goers. With every flaw they can find within someone inside of the church, they feel continually justified in their prejudice and disappointment. They begin to see church goers as hypocrites and this becomes their excuse for shunning church and remaining alienated from God.
I’d rather go to church and sit on the pew with hypocrites than to go to hell with them. Someone else’s bad behavior is hardly an excuse for our own.
When we expect other people or institutions to be perfect, that’s when we open ourselves up for hurt and disappointment. The church is made up of imperfect people who recognize their need for forgiveness and a Savior. Likewise, the medical profession is made up of physicians who are imperfect people. Financial companies have investors who make imperfect decisions. The justice of the court system sometimes fails. Government policies and politicians often create more problems than they solve.
There are opportunities for disappointment all around. We don’t have to look very hard to find them. Usually, they find us.
These are just a few things that might cause a person to be disappointed: a diet that doesn’t work, an investment that loses money, a friend who is constantly late, a new job that isn’t what we thought it was going to be, someone behaving in a manner that is shocking to what we believed about them, or our favorite sports team loses a championship.
The worst disappointment of all, in my opinion, is when we are disappointed with ourselves.
If we know we could have done better, but didn’t give 100% EFFORT; if we made a frivolous or unnecessary purchase, if we say something unkind about another person; if we forget an important event; if we miss out on an opportunity because someone forgot to tell us about it; if we put on weight or get a bad haircut; if we let down the ones we love – all of these are reasons to be disappointed in ourselves. But our disappointment mustn’t stop there. We must resolve to do better, be better, try harder, or change our bad habit(s).
I really liked the following quotes about disappointment:
“The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.” — Robert Kiyosaki
“People look at you and me to see what they are supposed to be. And, if we don’t disappoint them, maybe, just maybe, they won’t disappoint us.” — Walt Disney
“Ones best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” — Henry Ward Beecher
Martin Luther King Jr. puts it very adeptly, “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” This deep love is what drives you toward your goals, dreams and desires. This deep love will be what fuels you in life, bringing you to places you have never been before. This deep love is what makes life worth living. Remember that disappointment is always a better emotional state than apathy or neutrality where the individual feels indifferent toward anything. I would much rather be feeling a negative emotion any day than feeling absolutely nothing. The ability to feel is what sets us apart from non-living beings. To feel nothing is to be an android, a robot, a machine.”
“Disappointment and failure build character and patience, when allowed to do so. They can teach you to win and lose with grace, an increasingly lost art these days. Romans 5:3-4 says it like this: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character … ” — Rusty Wright
If you’ve been disappointed recently, perhaps it is time to rethink the situation and look at it in a positive light. Perhaps the thing that disappointed you will motivate you to do better or make a different choice for yourself. The very thing that was a disappointment might serve as an inspiration in the long run. Remember — there are people watching you and learning by your example as you deal with daily life and the inevitable disappointments that will come.