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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.Colossians 3:14

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. 

Pray.

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!Dealing with Disappointment: 6 Godly Ways to Cope

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24 Comments

  1. We are bound to hurt one another. That’s a serious consequence of this broken and sinful world. But every time another human lets us down, God is there to lift us up. He reminds us we can rely on Him no matter what. You are so right that when we choose to love and give mercy and grace, we glorify God. You have a beautiful site here, so glad I stopped by!

    • Bree

      Thank you! I’m so glad you took the time to visit! I love what you wrote: “Every time another human lets us down, God is there to lift us up.” So true, and I am so thankful for that!

  2. You’re right – it’s not all about us! That’s not why we’re here at all – it’s all about God and doing His will. I’m sure you were super disappointed that your girlfriend didn’t make it to you wedding. But considering where she was coming from was the right thing to do. We all will be disappointed by others throughout this life, but thank God, He is always the same and always faithful! Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom with us at Tuesday Talk, Bree!

    • Bree

      I agree! I know that I’m much better off when I stop thinking so much about how things impact me and stop throwing myself pity parties and really focus in on the will of God and on how He can be glorified through any circumstance. What a blessing it is to know and serve Him! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

  3. I see Ruthie my co-host on Tuesday Talk picked you too today. This is a great post. I love all your points made especially about not holding grudges. Many do, even though they say they don’t just by how they react after the matter. Disappointment is part of life as much as it hurts, we need to show a bit more grace. Featuring this on my Tuesday Talk post next week as it will fit perfectly with my theme. Thanks for sharing.

    • Bree

      That’s so true! I know I sometimes struggle too with giving the issue to God only to try and take it back again a few minutes later! But leaving our disappointments at His feet is the best thing we can do. He can handle it so much better than we can. Thank you so much for commenting and for next week’s feature! I can’t wait to link up on Tuesday Talk again 🙂

  4. Yes indeed, what a wonderful guide to dealing with disappointment. May I invite you to bless someone with your words at the DanceWithJesus linkup at SusanBMead.com/blog?

  5. This is so helpful, and also reminds me that sometimes it’s actually God that we aim our feelings of disappointment toward — I’ve been really helped by the writing of Philip Yancey in this regard.

    • Bree

      That’s a great point! I’ve definitely had times of questioning God about the disappointments in my life. Thanks for the comment and author tip!

  6. I love this, Bree. It’s not about what we want, but rather what God wants. Sometimes we are disappointed in situations but we need to remember that God allows those moments to happen for a reason; possibly for the safety of those we love. ( My family experienced disappointment not too long ago, but the Lord was watching over us.)
    Thank you for sharing your heart with Thankful Thursdays.

    • Bree

      It can definitely be hard to think of a disappointment in those terms in the moment. I have a tendency to just think in the “here and now.” What I have to remember is that God isn’t limited in that way. His plans are always so much greater than anything I could even imagine. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Choosing to love others anyway is my go to. Remembering that we are all human and make mistakes allows me to extend grace. Love this list. Great reminder.

    • Bree

      That’s such a good way to look at it. I know I do a lot better when I stop and think about all the poor decisions and mistakes I have made. It makes it so much easier to let go of others’ wrongs!

  8. Bree, Thank you for sharing such an edifying and encouraging post! I tend to get disappointed easily. Lately, I try not to have any expectations, but I’m not sure that is the answer either as it perpetuates an attitude of negativity. I think your idea of “lowering expectations” added to that being gracious at all times will bless others and myself.

    I also found your insight about “considering the other persons point of view” to be very helpful.

    I am so glad I stopped by here today for this good word. 🙂

    • Bree

      So glad you took the time to stop by again today, Karen! I’ve thought that at times too, but I don’t really think I’ve been successful at letting go of all expectations. I like what you said about “being gracious at all times.” I think that’s a great approach! 🙂

  9. I just want to thank you for posting. I wish I had thought of these ways of coping sooner!

    • Bree

      Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, Micaela! 🙂 We’re all definitely still works in progress but thankfully the Lord does continue to work on us!

  10. Thank you for reminding us that forgiveness is essential. Of course, I found your blog from Seeking God. I love it, I love what you have to share, and God absolutely loves it. Smile…..

    • Bree

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you took the time to visit and comment! 🙂

  11. Loved this Bree. I have come to learn over the years that sometimes, while we feel we are the ones disappointed, those whom we think are disappointing us are the ones feeling it the most. Extending God’s grace is the greatest compassion we can show them. Especially when dealing with children. We need to model grace and forgiveness.

    • Bree

      That’s such a good point! It’s easy to just think about how we’re feeling after we’ve been let down by someone. But I agree, it’s really important to consider how they’re feeling and to extend grace. Thank you for the comment! 🙂