I’m not sure what’s worse, being disappointed or being the disappointment. As someone who is constantly feeling guilty for something (whether it’s warranted or not) I would say that being a disappointment is so much worse. We all remember those times when, as a kid, you brought home a bad report or a not so stellar grade and your parents would say “I’m not mad… I’m disappointed”. I know I would much rather they had been mad at me! Anything but disappointed please!!! Disappointment is its very own kind of special emotion, it is totally one sided. When someone is angry at you, you are usually angry at them and it is over a specific kind of circumstance, one that may not happen often or on a regular basis. But, with disappointment it can be something small, something that happens all the time. There also isn’t a whole lot of communication when it comes to being disappointed, maybe it seems like such a small thing to get upset over so you don’t mention it, despite the fact that the hurt is still there, maybe you don’t want to make the other person feel bad or guilty because deep down you know they would never intend to hurt you, but it doesn’t change the fact that they let you down. Disappointment can come in all forms, whether it’s your best friend forgetting your birthday, that cupcake not being as good as it looked (which let’s be honest, is tragic), a close friend not showing up for an important event, or even a relationship not working out, life is just overflowing with disappointment! Tiny disappointments, huge disappointments, moderate ones… they’re all there. And no matter who you are you will disappoint someone in your life and you will be disappointed by others… it’s just the way it goes.
Don’t worry, we’re in a dark place right now but this train of thought sees light at the end of the tunnel, so don’t hop off just yet…
I’m currently reading Praxis by Nadia Bolz-Weber and something she said in her book is what sparked this train of thought in my head this morning. She said that when she started her church she told all new members that at some point or another they would be disappointed in either the church, its members, her (as their pastor), or the entire Church body (in this case the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). Now, I think for most of us, if a conversation starts off with “hey, guess what? I’m going to disappoint you at some point!” we’d go running for the hills, but that’s before we hear the second part. The second part (which Nadia touched on in her book) is that if you stick around, if you deal with the occasional disappointment, look passed people’s occasional missteps, what you’ll experience is something beautiful, you’ll experience a true relationship. You’ll realize that a lot of things that disappoint us aren’t that big of a deal when compared to the things that fulfill us. Disappointment doesn’t have to ruin relationships, it doesn’t have to ruin experiences because in the long run the good will outweigh the bad, if you let it. It will always be easier to be angry, to be disappointed and bitter, it doesn’t take a lot of energy because, let’s face it, this world we live in and even the people we love can be real shitty sometimes. But, on the other hand this world can be beautiful and the people we love are wonderful despite the occasional misstep or selfishness.
So, I guess what I was thinking is that as much as disappointment can really suck, it’s not that bad when you look at the other side of things. And you know, if something is consistently disappointing then I’d say we just don’t need it. So the next time you feel let down or disappointed, think about why you feel that way… was the situation totally out of your hands? Did you communicate what you wanted? Is it really worth the time to worry about it? In my opinion disappointment just teaches what we want and don’t want, what we expect or don’t expect, and we all just need to come to terms with the fact that disappointment is a part of life, and while it’s ok to feel let down, it’s not ok to wallow in it. Remember the beauties of life, the relationships that work, the fact that even the people we love the most have faults… love them anyway, enjoy life, enjoy the disappointment, enjoy the successes, because when the time comes the disappointments don’t matter, but the joy we felt and the love we shared always do.