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Disappointment is a part of life. We all have times when others don’t live up to our expectations or let us down in some way. Often, it seems that the people who disappoint us the most are those closest to us because we tend to hold them to higher standards than everyone else. After all, no one is supposed to love us more than those in our “inner circle.”
When someone close to us hurts us in some way it can be tempting to hold a grudge against that person. Maybe we feel like they don’t deserve our grace or that, if we forgive them this time, they’ll only do it again. Whatever the reason, we hold onto the grudge, we nurture it. Even when the hurt begins to fade, we renew it in our hearts because we just can’t seem to let it go.
We feel justified. We believe that they deserve to feel a little of what we feel. We think we’re hurting them. And we probably are.
But what we don’t realize is that by holding onto past disappointments we are also hurting ourselves, our families, and, most of all, our relationships with God.
Holding grudges is entirely contrary to what we’re taught in the Word of God:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).
To hold onto disappointment is to hold onto bitterness, wrath, and anger. If you’ve ever known someone who was bitter and vengeful, and whose heart was hardened by unforgiveness, you know that these people are very difficult to be around. Not only is their relationship with God hindered by their unforgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15) but so are their relationships with their loved ones. It’s hard for love and light to permeate such darkness.
But, through Christ, we can do anything (Philippians 4:13). Through Christ, we can avoid becoming that bitter, vengeful person. We can choose forgiveness, love, and acceptance over disappointment, hurt, and anger.
If you’re struggling to let go of disappointment in your life, here are some suggestions that may help:
Consider the other person’s point of view.
Two nights before my wedding, one of my bridesmaids called to tell me that, for various, she wouldn’t be able to make it to the wedding (she was traveling in from out of state). She was very sorry, and I know it hurt her to have to call me with that news. We both cried on the phone, her from feeling so badly about it and me from the disappointment and hurt that one of my closest friends wouldn’t be there to celebrate such an important day. In my humanness, I wanted to be angry with her. How could she do this at the last minute? How could she prioritize other things over something she committed to months ago?
But when I considered where she was coming from, I couldn’t help but feel compassion for her. She had so much going on in her life at that time. She had other priorities and other obligations and, even though it was the biggest thing on my radar at the time, my wedding was not the most important thing in her world.
In the end, I had to choose: Would I hold on to the disappointment and nurture it into a grudge that could end a decade old friendship or would I give the same Christ-like grace and forgiveness I would hope for if I were the one disappointing her? Thankfully, God helped me to choose the latter.
There are always two sides to every story. Take the time to find what is going on in the life of the person who disappointed you. Opening your heart to them with compassion and empathy may just be what you need to let go of your disappointment.
Think of times when you disappointed someone else and hoped they would give you grace.
I don’t know about you, but I cringe to think about things I’ve done in the past that have disappointed those closest to me. We are sinful, fallible humans who are bound to hurt one another. When you think of all the times others have shown you grace when you messed up, it might be a little easier to extend that same grace to others.
This principle is especially clear when we consider it in light of our relationship with Jesus. How many times have we willfully, knowingly chosen sin? How many times have we disappointed Him? And yet He went to the cross for us. Jesus is our ultimate example of how we are to respond when others hurt us.
Change your expectations.
Realize that we’re all human, and we all mess up. Don’t expect perfection from others. Don’t set the bar so high that your loved ones can’t possibly reach it. Doing so only sets everyone involved up for failure.
Examine your expectations of others and work to recognize if, in your marriage or other relationships, you’re perpetuating a never-ending cycle of too-high expectations, followed by failure and subsequent disappointment. If you are, work to change this cycle. You will bless your family if you extent grace rather than disappointment.
Choose to love others anyway.
If you’re hurt by someone, choose to love them anyway. This is a choice you will have to recommit to time and time again. Make sure that love is a verb in your life, something that you do purposefully and intentionally, not something that you expect to just happen. Despite their flaws, despite their shortcomings, love others anyway. Yes, they disappointed and hurt you. But choose love.
Consider that it’s not really about you.
As servants of the Lord, we are to live for Him rather than for ourselves. This means showing His light to others (Matthew 5:14). When you ask the question, why should I let go of my disappointment? The best answer I can give you is this: So that God may be glorified through you. Holding onto a grudge does not glorify Him and will not draw others to Him. Let those around you be amazed by your capacity for forgiveness. And when they want to know how you do it- what’s different about you that you’re able to so easily let things go- share with them the truth: That it’s only possible because of Christ.
If you’re struggling through a disappointment, go to God with it. Pour your heart out to Him. Ask Him to fill your heart with superhuman forgiveness, understanding, compassion, and grace. He can accomplish what you cannot. He can lead you to a place of forgiveness and healing. You need only ask.
When you let go of disappointment, you glorify God. Give up your grudges and your desires for revenge. Allow others to see Jesus in you!
How about you? What are some things that help you to get past disappointments from others? Share in the comments below!