Lessons learned: Managing disappointment

Timing is everything. It’s the less than a second win for the gold medalist; the near miss; the moment God connects your situation to an answer in His Word; and the prayer that’s answered.

For the last 5 years, I’ve worked diligently through a process to obtain a goal.  The process has been rich with knowledge gained, life-long friendships established, opportunity to grow and to be involved in new projects that have stretched my ability and comfort.

Have you been there? Maybe you prepared your mind and home for the coming of a new child? Maybe it was a fitness goal? A job? A changed marriage?  It really doesn’t matter the “what”. We all stretch and get out of our comfort zone.  If you imagine a change or a goal and act upon that goal, there will be times of disappointment.  Who are you in the disappointment?  Not everyone gets the gold medal, and we live in a world of injustice and politics. Who are you when injustice occurs and sets you to sail on a different course that was unexpected?

Lessons Learned in the Disappointment

  • Examine your priorities
  • Trust steadily in God
  • Hope unswervingly
  • Love extravagantly
  • Live in the now
  • Practice gratitude

Examine priorities

After a fitful night wrestling with disappointment, I delved into my Bible study on Lydia–a strong, woman leader who worked with Paul and her husband to share the message of God’s love.  Although Lydia was a business woman, her priorities were God, Family, and then work.  After Lydia experienced the love of Jesus, “The Lord became the first priority in her life.”

Matthew 6:34

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Philippians 3:8

Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant.

When disappointment comes, immediately examine your priorities.  I have found a new and fresh start in my relationship with Jesus. He is holding my hand and walking me through this time. He speaks to me through His Word and prayer with such perfect timing.  Previous scheduled events are providing answers and healing. The world pulls us away.  The first part of Philippians 3:8 that I did not write out above:

The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ.

If you were to take away all credentials and knowledge, would you be satisfied in knowing Jesus? Your resume is not your final destination.  Don’t hold too tight or count on the letters behind your signature.  Trust God.

Trust steadily in God, Hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

This verse came to me during a family member’s funeral.  There is nothing quite like a funeral to remind you how life is short.  What ARE we supposed to do with our time–until THAT day?  God answers us.  When the math doesn’t add up, life is “unfair”, and you are left standing in the middle of a difficult reality, you must steadily trust in God. His purpose for your life just may be in the disappointment or unanswered prayer.  Faith is not in the outcome. Faith is your outlook.  You must not define yourself by the disappointment, but trust in God that He is working in your life despite the sadness or disappointment.  Within that trust, be hopeful in the promise that He is for you, not against you.  You may feel the system has failed you, but God is bigger than man and systems, and He never fails you. What hope!  What joy!  What a promise! In order to experience this hope, you must be courageous and affirmed in the knowledge that your God story is yours–do not compare. Period. Your heart, soul, and focus are upward, not outward.

Oh my goodness….LOVE

It’s easy to love when things are going well.  The greatest gift is to love when love is hard.  Loving your spouse when they disappoint you, loving your child when they are angry, loving your enemy when they have slandered or offended you, love………….

What does that look like?  It starts with God’s love for you and accepting this unconditional love.

A person was interviewed and asked “what is beauty?”  I like to think of this quote as “what is love?”

“Inner confidence. Peace. Kindness. Honesty. A life well-lived. Taking on challenges and not feeling shame for things that haven’t gone the way you felt they should have. And not feeling like a failure or allowing people to critique your life and make you feel you’ve failed at something.  That’s just toxic noise.”

As you move forward, allowing your faith to change your outlook, get rid of toxic noise and claim the love of God.  When you do this for yourself, and get rid of the “less than” thoughts, you begin to see others in the same light.  You can love extravagantly outside of yourself and in a world that desperately needs love where bitterness, apathy, and injustice abound. Imagine extending love and understanding in areas of your life that offer dissension and criticism. I’m not talking about hugging everyone and offering a cookie. However, that could be kind. Love is not being a part of the gossip, but speaking truth openly.  Love is offering solutions and a willingness to engage in positive change even when the other person is not.  Love is forgiving the wrong and looking forward to a new day. Love is having the hard conversations and being honest. Love is not settling but working toward better, different, or change. Love is holding yourself and others accountable for actions. I love you most when I can be vulnerable with you in a safe place and heal.

Live in the now

I highlighted in the verses above the word now.  We can’t change our circumstances by regretting yesterday and worrying about tomorrow.  We are only offered this moment to trust, hope, and love. Take a day in which you live in the now and notice God’s gifts–your spouse’s smile, a child’s giggle, a sunrise, and the sweet sound of the birds singing. Don’t be in constant pursuit of change and “what if”.  God takes all your moments and writes your story. Trust Him with your now and enjoy.

Practice gratitude

Brene’ Brown is an amazing social worker of research on shame, vulnerability, courage, and joy. Bottom line?  If you want joy and courage it’s rooted in gratitude. We must first be a people of grateful hearts and stop complaining about what we don’t have or what happened to us.  Okay it’s awful, it hurts, it seems like the pain will never end…..stop and look around you and be grateful.  Practice gratitude.

We can spend our entire lives in scarcity . . . just waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering when it will all fall apart. Or, we can lean into the uncertainty and be thankful for what we have in that precious moment. When I’m standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I’ve learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if I want to know joy. I’m not sure that it will ever be easy for me, but I have learned to trust this practice. For that, I give thanks! Brene Brown

I want to close on “The Tall Poppy Syndrome”

You can click on the title above to go to an article in Business Psychology.  The article will describe the syndrome in detail.  I was offered this story or syndrome in my time of disappointment.  As humans, we like status quo and for everyone to conform to the norm.  When you take a risk and stand tall, you will put yourself in a position to be judged. Your growth brings you to a point that others just might desire for you to “come down” from that lofty place, and “cut you down to size” (remember that expression?). The tall poppy is “cut down” in order to maintain the average, or the comfort zone.

Let’s put away the scissors and love–love each other on to growth and positive change.  How can I help you succeed? How can each poppy feel safe to grow and take risks in a place of support and encouragement?

 

Homemade Bread

Oh my how she’s grown. Love this one…

ARRESTED BY GRACE

Having access to Panera, bread machines, and grocery stores we have forgotten the fun of making home-made bread from good old-fashioned yeast and flour!  20 years ago my hubby and I started making bread from scratch after ordering our FREE cookbook from Fleischmann’s Yeast Company.  Below is a link for bread recipes that includes Fleischmann’s Yeast.

http://www.breadworld.com/

It took at least four hours for the entire process but WOW! what an experience for the family.  We are trying so hard to limit our television time and it’s amazing what creative things  you can come up with when you are not glued to the television.  

Hmmmmm……..  I was proof reading this and I had to add that this simple task is an answer to prayer.  As you know from previous posts we are praying prayer circles around our marriage and family.  Thank you Jesus for giving my husband the time, energy, and the change of pace to…

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Live NOW

Living in the now can be challenging.  It is best to plan meals, organize your week, and have a system of keeping the house clean.  As my Aunt Polly would say, “Everything is up to date and highly satisfactory!”  This was an affirmation that she would say to customers when they would call in about their bank account.

Where is the balance?  God specifically says to forget what is behind you and to not worry about tomorrow. (Matthew 6:34 & Philippians 3:13).

I’m reading Start Today by M.H. Clark.

Today has a lot going for it:

It’s here, it’s now, and it’s already yours.

Today is the only day that comes with a guarantee…

So start here, start now. Start today.

Living in the now does not mean you ignore interruptions or live clueless about what’s next. Living in the now is accepting this day as it unfolds and seeing the miracle within the fact that you really don’t know what will happen! Don’t expect the winning lottery ticket, the phone call of you’ve got the job, or the cleaning fairy to show up while you are at work.  Living in the now is noticing, really seeing with your eyes and heart, what is before you and loving extravagantly.  Some situations may be easier than others to love. I find it easy to love the sound of birds singing in the morning, but the irritating voice of someone who makes you feel “sideways”, well, that’s living in the now.

Don’t get worked up.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  Matthew 6:34

Trust that the Holy Spirit will guide you in your thoughts, words, and actions when the time comes.  Live in the now and try something bold or something small that will grow bigger with time.

STRETCH

Jesus healed a man with a withered hand. He healed him against the wishes and powerful influence of the religious people.  They saw the law, and Jesus saw the now–the person in need.  Jesus loved extravagantly in the now. (Matthew 12:9-14)

Jesus asked the man to participate in the miracle. “Stretch out your hand!” Once the man obeyed Jesus’ command, “he was restored to normal”.

Do you want restoration? Peace?

  • Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now.
  • Start small. Stretch a little and try something different.
  • Don’t get worked up about things that may or may not happen.

What is your stretch?  Right now, hold your arm close to your chest. Slowly unravel your arm with your hand palm side up and open. Ask God to reveal himself to you in the now.

The station will come soon enough…

God’s timing is perfect. What happened today was a beautiful expression of His love and will.  There are times when God’s will is confusing, but we trust that a door shut is His love expressed in our lives.  Today, I was able to witness the beauty of the Body of Christ, and His love poured out during a celebration of our Nana Reardon’s life.  She went to be with the Lord on Good Friday.  My husband and I, along with my oldest daughter, were asked to sing “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me.  During a sound check, I read my Bible for comfort.  God directed me to this passage:

I Corinthians 13 (The Message)

 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

In that moment, I was comforted in the loss of a loved one.  True–we don’t see as clearly, and we are incomplete until the Day of completeness comes!  Nana is on the other side–complete. Until that day, for us, we have three things to do to lead us toward the day we see Jesus face-to-face:

  1. Trust steadily in God
  2. Hope unswervingly
  3. Love extravagantly

Trust.

Hope.

Love.

Little did I know that later that day God would prepare me to live out these three things.  A phone call, a conversation, a decision is made and you are set on a different course of action.

I will trust steadily in God.

I will hope unswervingly about my future.

I will love extravagantly.

God and I talked about the greatest of these.  Anna, if the greatest of these is love, then when you are confused and hurt and find it difficult to trust My plan, and when the evidence of your circumstances doesn’t seem hopeful, I want you to love extravagantly, as I have loved you.  Who is before you?  What job is before you? What grievance or challenge seems insurmountable?  If you will start with My love as your goal, you will learn to trust steadily and hope unswervingly.

Nana asked this to be read at her funeral: (She wrote this five years earlier)

The true joy of life is the journey. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us. “Relish the moment” is a good motto especially when coupled with Psalm 118: 24 ‘This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.’  It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad.  It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow.  Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today. So stop pacing the aisles of counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along.  The station will come soon enough.

 

Nana’s two grandchildren spoke at the funeral with such passion and love.  They spoke of her legacy.  Their memories were filled with baking cookies, trips, and Nana sitting on the sidelines at soccer games.

Nana was a successful woman in the business world.  Not a single memory or conversation was about accomplishments, or her job.  Every memory surrounded family gatherings, trips with friends, and next door neighbors showing up to remember when. Her love for her husband, daughter, grand children, great grand children, friends, and family was remembered.

Love extravagantly.  The greatest of these is love.

Pastor Mark was deeply touched by the love displayed by the grand daughters. Through tears he conveyed that, in the end, how we love matters the most. How will your love be described?  When you are carried by those loved ones to your graveside, your legacy to them will be your love.

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My dad wrote a song called “Soul Train to Glory”.  Jimmie Davis purchased the song and performed it on one of his albums.  Nana Reardon and her late husband, Bill Reardon, were ushered out of the service by pall bearers to this song:

I will always remember this day, and God’s timing of a door shut in my personal life, but a spiritual awakening that opened the windows of my soul to embrace love no matter the outcome.  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you Nana for your legacy of love.

This day….

Relish the moment….

This IS the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.

I choose love.

Written by Victoria

Sweet Nana was so wonderfully celebrated today. We will truly miss her this side of heaven but oh sweet joy knowing that she is with Jesus! This message was very clear as a legacy Nana wanted to share – life is about enjoying the journey, not waiting to get to a destination. This really spoke to me today. Am I enjoying this journey called life? Are you? Are we enjoy each moment? Imperfect moments? Joyous moments? Messy house? Laundry? The beautiful spring flowers? The sound of the soft rain? Are we embracing each moment with the ones we love and care about? Are we speaking kindness and loving extravagantly? Sweet Nana, thank you for reminding us of this!

Written by Marie (Nana Reardon’s daughter)

I wanted to say thank you to everyone that was there today as we celebrated my Mom’s life. Listening and talking to folks…I remembered so many great memories and things she did and was a part of. It’s so easy to get mired down with what’s going on in our lives and dealing with her as she was preparing to leave us that I overlooked a lot of things to just be thankful for. So, take time to do some of what she wrote in her note that she left….enjoy the journey, eat some ice cream, laugh with folks, relax, and love your loved ones. The station will come soon enough. Thanks again for sharing this day with us.