Disappointment: A Window to Hope.

Disappointment! It's the worst! It's that feeling of being all dressed up in your new outfit for church  and then you spill your coffee all over yourself. It's the excitement and anticipation of going on a vacation that you have dreamed about and then coming down with the stomach virus once you are there. Disappointment runs from
the little and mundane things of life all the way to the deep tragedies  that we pray we never have to face. It hits when you've been praying for a baby and longing to be a mama and then suddenly losing the baby to miscarriage. It's the sadness and grief of watching a marriage that you thought was the dream fall apart before your eyes. It's hearing the dreaded diagnosis from the doctor. Disappointment crushes our hearts. We can easily become jaded and expect to be let down at every turn. When we get to this place it means we have looked for hope in things that were never meant to satisfy. Disappointment is a part of our everyday broken world, but it does not have the final word.

This weekend we celebrated my daughter's fifth birthday. She has been anticipating this weekend since the beginning of January. This girl is exactly like me; she loves a good plan! I wrote out a calendar for her so that she could mark off each day leading up to her special day. Our plans were all set! Her actual birthday was on Thursday and she woke up to balloons, decorations, gifts and a special breakfast. My husband and I surprised her at lunch time and she handed out her special treat to her friends. That evening I made her requested dinner of Shepherd's Pie and we attended a friend's middle school performance of Aladdin. Friday was a date with mama and daddy. We took her to breakfast and ice skating. It was such a fun morning together! As we were leaving the rink I could see the sadness and disappointment hit her. This day, that she had been looking so forward to, was coming to an end. As we drove home she began crying because she wanted to go back, and I felt my mind begin to race: What can we do now? We have a few minutes maybe we could run to Chick-Fil-A - or better yet, I can drop Drew off so he can relieve the babysitter and I can take Anna to Chick-Fil-A - we could set another time for ice skating and make another calendar. 

I just wanted to take the sadness away. 

My girl was experiencing disappointment. She did not need another grand event to wipe the disappointment away, but rather she needed me to affirm her feelings and then head home with her.

I am not sure I've named this outloud before, but I think part of our parenting strategy (as hard as it is, and as much as I dislike it) is letting our kids face disappointment. Disappointment will ALWAYS be a part of this abnormal world until Jesus comes back! Jesus died for the disappointments of this life. He's bringing redemption to each moment that we face. Washing away these moments for our kids with a new toy or the promise of another grand adventure takes away the opportunity to point to the one who will never disappoint them. 

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 1:20

The love and forgiveness of God will never disappoint. It is always available and freely given to us because of Christ. This is our hope and our children's hope in the face of disappointment.

So how do we practically walk through this with our kids? We let them be sad, and man, this is not easy! Sometimes we endure the whining when they want just one more cookie and we've already said no! Don't give in. The disappointment is OK! We let them lament that the fun has ended. We affirm how sad it is, and we help them arrive at an appreciation for the experience of joy that was had, and a thankfulness for the one who has supplied it. These opportunities when we remind our kids who the giver of good gifts is and how much he delights in providing these moments for us is what equips them (and us!) to face disappointment with hope.

Disappointment will always be present in our lives because of the broken world we live in, but it cannot steal our hope, The promises of Jesus are true, and what a gift it is to teach our children and model for them what it looks like to rest and trust in the one who brings full satisfaction.


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