Disappointment: Dealing with facepalms
The Urban Dictionary says facepalms happen when our face drops into our palms as a result of exasperation, frustration, shame, or disappointment. Today they are more of a trendy sign of our disbelief about life. For me they mostly register disappointment.
It's one of those emotional lows that usually doesn't hinder our progress long. But, disappointment can slow a little and create some tension, perhaps deliberation, as we approach the future. It's the result of something not being what was promised, or a person, product, event, or thing that didn't measure up. They happen to me quite often because I have rose-colored glasses. That vision usually sees more than is actually there, puts more store in what people say, and anticipates the best in people and circumstances in most situations. If you see me with facepalms it's usually because I've just seen something incredibly stupid, or something that didn't measure up to the billing it had received. You know, disappointment. I aimed high and was delivered low. My mind and heart were in the clouds and my feet are in the mud.
It was like the time a number of years ago when Harriet was pregnant with Elizabeth that I rescued a dilapidated baby bed frame from a roadside pile of debris. As I loaded that thing into my pickup truck I envisioned a valued family antique that would be bequeathed to generations of Holmes via the vision and handiwork of great-great- great-grandfather Sonny. I sanded that wood, stained it, applied antiquing finishes, assembled it, and displayed it for the neighbors to see. They laughed. The next day it was back in a roadside trash pile for the garbage man. Talk about disappointment.
But, you know what I mean, the let-down of missing a mark, tension in a relationship because someone didn't deliver, the lesson being less profound than envisioned, the promotion not fulfilling your career aspirations, a child's behavior, a spouse's forgetfulness, a slight from someone, the call that didn't come. How do we move forward when disappointment has registered on our personal satisfaction meter? So, a couple of suggestions----
1. Get real with your expectations.
Read through Ecclesiastes sometime and come to grips with Solomon's
assessment of life. He wrote, "Then I considered all that my hands had done
and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving
after the wind, and there is nothing to be gained under the sun"
(Ecclesiastes 2:11). Was Solomon pessimistic? A negative person? No. He just
knew the world of fallen humans and didn't expect too much in a fallen world.
So, step one is to insure that we're not expecting too much.
2. Go to school in your experiences.
Those disappointments may be places of great, advanced learning. Remember
that "...suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and
character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame" (Romans 5:3-5).
Disappointment may pry open a teachable moment for us. Learn there.
3. Connect with an encourager.
Most personal coaches teach that we should all have at least two other people
in our lives---a Timothy that we are training and preparing, and a Barnabas that
is encouraging us. Paul's word to Philemon is among my favorite passages. He
wrote, "For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother,
because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you" (Philemon
1:7). Bring a Timothy and a Barnabas into your circle.
4. Go deeper in times of disappointment.
Expecting much may be a sign of having left terra firma to some degree, that
is, being somewhat unrealistic about life. The deeper life of faith isn't escape
into la la land. It's growing deeper in your personal relationship with Christ, and
therefore becoming more useful to him in your earthly ministry. Peter wrote,
"For it these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from
being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ"
(2 Peter 1:8).
Usually disappointment is a delay and not a set back. This is because we learn that there is no waste in God's economy, that he is always working and is always working for our good. So, he is using whatever happens, even those things that didn't measure up to what we expected. Paul wrote it...
And I know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for
those who are called according to his purpose.
Even when our face is in our palms.