Is There A Bright Side To Disappointment?
We had hoped he was the one… (Luke 24:21 NIV)
At my best, what I truly desire is for more of my brothers and sisters to know God and experience God’s grace (that is, be aware of God’s active love toward them and within the world.) When I’m in this calm and wide open spaciousness, I can wholeheartedly, and quite naturally say, “God must increase and I must decrease.”
Then disappointment comes and my world shrinks to a space that only has room for one – my ego.
“I had hoped…”
Disappointment shrinks my world and dissolves that spaciousness.
Disappoint. From Old French, to be deprived of an office or position, or to be removed from office.
I thought I was in control, but I’m not!
I was running the ship, and suddenly, I’m not!
The problem with small spaces, is that they are often dark, too. I come to God with no questions, but only commands shouted into the darkness, fueled by my insecurity and fears. Like the theif on the cross, like the Enemy of my soul, I say –
If you are the Son of God, get me out of this place! (thief)
If you are the Messiah, turn these stones into bread! (satan)
What if I chose, like John, Paul, and the Samaritan woman, not to command, but to question?
Are you the one? (John)
Who are you, Lord? (Paul)
Where should we worship? (Samaritan woman)
God knows I will experience disappointment, those times where I thought I was something, or some place, but realize I’m not there or not all that.
When it happens, what takes the focus? Does my vision narrow, and do I start defining God according to my circumstances?
Or do I look to God to define and interpret my circumstances, to broaden and align my vision and return me to that spaciousness? To bring perspective?
Perspective is a concept every artist learns early. It’s a basic concept that enables the artist to create on a piece of paper the impression of viewing objects from a defined point. If you get your perspective wrong, you have the sense that the object is too big or too small, or shaped oddly because the angles don’t align correctly.
Perspective: a point of view. Perspective is everything in times of disappointment. Perspective brings what I’m looking at into alignment. Objects are the size they should be, I am the size I should be, and God is magnificently larger than everything.
This is the bright side of disappointment.
At my best, I also desire that I would know God and experience God’s grace. That same calm and wide open spaciousness is laid before me, as a table in the presence of my “inner enemies” — fear, dread, and the confinement of disappointment.
In that space I can ask questions, and take time to look long and lovingly at that small space of disappointment within the larger landscape of God’s love. And quite naturally say, “God must increase and I must decrease.”