How to walk through disappointment


There's a popular nursery rhyme book for children called 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt.' The story is about four children going on an adventure but as they embark the children are greeted along the way by obstacles in their path. They are determined that they are going on a bear hunt and that they are going to catch a big one!

Each obstacle they come up against no matter what it is they declare, "Oh well, we can't go over it, we can't go under it, we can't go around it, we got to go through it!"

Many people say that you don't remember events from when you were a young child. Scientists say that traumatic memories hide like a shadow in the brain but as our brain develops so does our memory and ability to remember those traumatic events.

My very first memory was when I was a young child, going in for an MRI scan. I remember heading into the cold, dark tunnel with no light in sight, and having straps holding me down from every angle. You see when I was very young, meningococcal got into my blood stream and made home within my knee.

I say all of this to say growing up was challenging, as my knee was weak and joints would a few times a day cramp up, become stiff and sometimes even dislocate. I learnt quickly though that I had no choice but to stand up and to walk it out, to walk through the pain, I couldn't go over it, I couldn't go under it, I couldn't even go around it, I had to go through it, I had to walk through the pain.

Isn't that the same in our own lives? When the unexpected, the unknown, the uncomfortable arises - and it will; when disappointment arrives at your doorstep, and before you know it intense pain seeps through and harbours in your heart, how do you navigate that? How do you walk through it?

The word seep means to pass slowly through a small opening. Disappointment is described as a form of sadness. A deep empty feeling of loss, an uncomfortable space, a painful gap between our expectations and reality. Bitterness and hurt can reside out of disappointment and most of the time it unintentionally creeps in, it is unwanted and turbulent and it can feel at times like a stormy sea.

I wish I could say I love the ocean; I love the idea of the ocean. I can't deny though that there is something incredible and mesmerising about it. Although I am not an ocean genius, I do know a couple of things. I know that it's one thing to drop anchor and it's completely different to set anchor. Dropping anchor is simply hoping the anchor catches something of substance, setting anchor is intentionally placing the anchor so it grabs into the seabed and in doing so it secures the boat in place.

By doing this you are not at the mercy of the wind and seas but rather your heading is kept, and you don't drift.

If we are not anchored and we allow matters to seep through in our relationship with God, in our family life, in our mental health, it becomes easy and effortless for disappointment to tiptoe in unnoticed and leave a trail of mess behind you.

In Bob Goff's book Dream Big he says, "In God's economy, nothing is ever wasted. Not our pain, nor our disappointments, nor our setbacks. These are tools that can be used later as a recipe for our best work. Quit throwing the 'batter' away."

God is the only one who has been in your tomorrow, He is the only one who knows what you need. Don't allow disappointments, bitterness or hurt to reside in your heart so much that you throw the whole batter away.