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Digesting Disappointment

 

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Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:1-2

When people disappoint us we enter a danger zone for relationships. It’s tempting to turn our disappointed expectations into a blanket statement regarding the person or persons. Here’s how I’ve seen disappointment poison relationships: instead of digesting my own feelings of disappointment, I can label the other person as a disappointment and make them the cause of my pain, totally ignoring the reality of my own expectations as the major player here. That’s a danger zone!

When we view a person as a disappointment we are in danger of loosing love to the grim reaper called pride. We will invoke shame as a weapon and turn to violence of speech or action in order to vindicate ourselves and try to get the other person to make us happy — or go away.

Healthy relationships do have expectations. The Apostle Paul has expectations of the church. He hopes for them to live up to and into the calling they have had from God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:1). Like him, we do look for each other to live up to the callings of our relationships by keeping commitments and demonstrating value for the person. However if we demand perfection to our expectations will restrict ourselves from love; we will not be able to accept each other in our weakness, warts, and all!

So when I’m disappointed here’s what helps:

1. First admit I’m disappointed and keep it to myself first.

2. Humbly examine my expectations with the Lord. Its here that I have to figure out what story I’m making up about the situation and the person.

3. Resolve to treat the other gently, not as an object for my happiness, but as a person who is deeply loved and valued by God.

4. Explore what kind of adjustments, allowances, or space, I can make for the faults (weaknesses) of the other. As Brene Brown’s husband Steve says in, Rising Strong, “All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.”

Having said that, even in disappointment I can and must determine the scope of my boundaries and gently and firmly reaffirm them. What the Apostle Paul encourages here in verse 2 is that we make allowances for other person’s faults because we love them.

5. And then if need be, discuss the situation with the other person without condemnation, truthing in love. This is the difficult but crucial conversation that must be waded into. But I think the health of our lives and relationships depends on our courage to do so. Digesting disappointment guards the heart against resentment and the many disorders of the soul that accompany such festering pain. Digesting disappointment creates space for us to grow in love.

When it comes to digesting disappointment, what have you found helpful?

Beating sloth and eight other thoughts on discipline.

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If you love sleep, you will end in poverty. Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat! Proverbs 20:13

1. Discipline harnesses your capacity to focus in order to bring about a sustained change.

2. Discipline about the “right” things in life is as important as having the capacity to focus.

3. You can’t be disciplined about everything at once in life at the same time; so discipline multiplies itself through the creation of habits; habits are disciplines and systems built into your life or organization over time. Disciplined people have lots of “good” habits.

4. Discipline is the capacity to delay gratification in order to achieve greater success. (Bill Hybels)

5. Excellent people with sustained discipline tap into deep wells of reverence for what matters most in life.

6. Reverence beats sloth’s reluctance to embrace pain associated with discipline and brings honour and love to our relationship with God, self, people, and the stuff of earth.

7. Disciplined people decide ahead of time on how to use their focus, time, and resources in order to advance an area of their lives. They “research” best practices and experiment along the way.

8. Discipline in some areas of life will mean you disappoint people for a time because you will be unavailable for everything. Discipline is a kind of purposed and selected neglect. Wisdom required!

9. Discipline at its best accepts scarcity for a time in order to tap into the abundance of God’s provision.

Friends under anxiety

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Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety weighs down a friend. Especially crushing is the unspecified general feeling of dread. So what is the good word capable of lifting the weight and letting gladness spring up in the heart?

I don’t know. I’m sure there is no formula for the “good word.” The good word is discovered in the give and take of friendship. A person under anxiety will seek connection. But it seems from my own experiences that those first attempts at connecting often go wrong or are dissatisfying. Those of us “outside” the weight may be busy, may diminish the feelings and the situation, and just may miss the bid for connection.

And therein is the danger for friends under anxiety. When the bid for connection doesn’t deliver quickly the brain and body moves on to something else in a hurry. Like a baby goose imprinting on its mother those of us under the weight of anxiety are all likely to latch on to something or someone that “makes us feel better” for the moment.

So, what’s the good word that makes one glad? Think about it. What’s it been for you? 

Well for me, most often it is a word delivered by a friend. It may be as simple as “I’m glad to see you” and accompanied by a smile. Usually its a word delivered after listening and questioning. This good word both recognizes the anxiety and calls me to courage. This good word might be buried in a story. But usually “this good word” highlights a good and noble quality possessed by me and calls it forward as a strength.

This good word… may also point to reasons for hope and faith outside of me to which I may intrust myself. Even if I initially resist this kind of good word from a friend, it still has landed in my heart… even for a moment. This is what the Gospel does; it grounds us in the reality of God’s tender mercy and powerful strength for us. And so I believe that though the good words of formal blessings may seem strange to our common conversation patterns, they are powerful for us. Here are three:

Romans 15:13
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 
Romans 16:19-20 
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But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. 20The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

 
Numbers 6:24-26
24May the LORD bless you and protect you.
25May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
26May the LORD show you his favour and give you his peace.
You probably have friends under anxiety. I hope you will connect with them and see if the Spirit of God generates a good word between you. A good word cannot be rushed!

I pray for you, that our Sovereign LORD would give you His words of wisdom so that you may know how to encourage the anxious. May He waken you morning by morning and open your understanding to His will. (Drawn from Isaiah 50:4)

Unmasking our thirst for God.

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As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 42:1-2

Apparently many people on a typical North American diet no longer recognize thirst. They mistake it for hunger. Thirsty? Let’s eat!

Is it possible, we have also masked our thirst for God as well? I believe many of the desires of the soul meant to direct us into the Presence of God have been masked. Instead of interpreting the longings of our soul as an impulse to seek the Living God we have accepted substitutes to quickly cover the emptiness. Internet searches and coasting through the newsfeed deliver a quick hit to our brains and masks the longings for God.

And that’s a problem. The search for the flowing streams of God’s presence is sometimes and most often lengthy.

Slowing down.

Letting the tears flow.

Raising and listening to the questions.

Directing the accusations to the Cross.

Meditating on the Scriptural narratives of others who met God.

Waiting on God.

Being still before God.

Taking time. And most of us, including me, get antsy trying to be still. I’d like to quickly move past the tears, the questions, the accusations, the stories, and the waiting.

I would probably never be the author of Psalm 42, unless I was willing to sit, wait, listen, watch. I would have scared off the deer looking for refreshing water in the midst of a dry spell. I would have missed the metaphor God provided to make obvious what is unseen, but very real for me:

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.