Guest Post by Cathy Baker
“Don’t ever let today’s disappointment cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dream.” – Unknown
A few years ago, while attending a local writer’s conference, I received news that every writer longs to hear only to have it fall flat two weeks later. My emotions twisted and turned tighter than a rollercoaster, so I prayerfully set aside time to grieve the loss of one dream and move forward toward another by creating three action steps. These steps helped me to lay aside disappointment and hit the re-set button.
It’s important to know how to handle disappointment because it’s a common emotion we experience in daily life. A dream job fizzles, friends let us down, or life simply takes unexpected detours. Let’s be honest, one doesn’t have to look far to find unmet expectations.
And yet, it’s what we choose to do with this disappointment that determines our next steps, and even our future.
From Genesis to Revelation, we read of the disappointed. There was Moses, David, Rachel, and Hannah. Elijah was so downhearted, he asked God to take his life. Disappointment can dim our perspective, resulting in long-term discouragement, the too-early release of a ministry, the loss of relationships, depression, etc.
Perhaps it’s my own struggle with depression that alerted me to its danger, inspiring me to remember the following truths. I hope in some small way, they will help you too.
Three Action Steps to Take When Disappointment Strikes
- Be kind to yourself.
Imagine telling a friend to “get over it” when their disappointment is so new it cries when spanked. So why would we treat ourselves any differently? I gave myself three days:
- Day 1: Embrace the numbness. It tends to clip the heels of disappointment.
- Day 2: Engage in prayer.
- Day 3: Write down the next right thing to do and the specific steps required to move forward.
This structure proved helpful for my situation. Obviously, there are no time constraints for those who grieve or a 1-2-3 formula for deeper disappointments.
Maybe you’re wondering why prayer wasn’t listed on day one. I wanted to, but I was numb. Instead of beating myself up, as I’ve done in the past, I embraced it as tightly as I did my Heavenly Father’s love. God knows the time required for filtering our emotions down to the point of an offering.
- Pray in the right direction.
On the second day, and the following few, I noticed how my prayers were laser-focused on writing. Such as, what can I learn from these experiences? How should I proceed with the book? Should I proceed with the book?
There’s nothing wrong with these prayers. And yet, at that moment, I realized my focus was more on the writing and less on the Author. I paused, thanking God for reminding me that He’s not nearly as interested in my writing as He is with me, His daughter. It was my heart He desired above all, not my fingertips. And it’s your heart He desires above all else too.
- Remember, God wastes nothing.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” He works through all things for our good, even disappointment. In fact, God often uses it to spur us on to start new ministries, to serve others with more clarity, or step back and recharge.
If there was an opportunity to go back and erase the disappointment I felt after the conference, I wouldn’t take it. In fact, because of the steps taken after the disappointment, I recreated my book and as a result, landed my dream literary agent.
We never know how God will use disappointment for our good and for His glory, but we know He will, and this brings rest and refreshment for our souls.
Cathy Baker writes from a tiny studio lovingly known as The Tiny House on the Hill in the Foothills of SC. As an author, Hope Writer, and Bible teacher for over twenty-five years, she encourages women to pause and embrace the seemingly small, mundane moments of their day for God’s glory. She invites you to join her in the tiny house where you’re always welcome to come on in and take a seat. There, you’ll find a free copy of Ways to Pray Throughout Your Home. You can also connect with her on Instagram or inside her free Creative Pauses Facebook Group.