The best thing about having a can of worms is that you can use the worms as bait and go fishing. Fish like worms, I hear. I’m not much into fishing (seems a chilly sport, and my hands spend enough time blue without that kind of help – friends like that, who needs enemies, hey?), but metaphorically speaking, I’m going to pop open that disappointing can of worms and see what sort of fish I can catch.

As I confessed in my last post, I eventually experienced disappointment with love. Disappointment is an interesting emotion in that it’s not inherently bad or good (I don’t believe), but it is a feeling that, when experienced, will produce actions that tell you a lot about the person experiencing it. Disappointment can tell you a lot about a person’s fears and hopes. It will shove you into action and can demonstrate pretty fast what motivates you. What do you do with disappointment?

Well, shoot, silly! I have no idea what you do with your disappointment, and I’m not writing about you, anyways.  This is my blog, and it’s all about ME! Shoo, shoo! Mwahahaha! Kidding! Sort of – I really don’t know how you handle disappointment, so I have absolutely no business trying to write about it. Guess I’d best stick with my own life and share what I’ve done and (I hope) what I’ve learned from the experience.

Expectations – that is what I forgot to mention previously about disappointment. If I am feeling disappointed, I had expectations that did not get met. It might even be stronger than expectations. I might be dealing with disappointed hope or threatened belief. That seems pretty self evident, doesn’t it? I have to say that for me, it’s not that easy. Looking at myself and examining that disappointment is not easy. Ha! Easy looks like skipping straight past go, collecting my 200 bucks, and dwelling on the wrongs that have been done to me. I don’t default to wanting to examine myself. I want to be fried, cranky, grumpy, pouty, and all pissy that I’m not getting what I want!

That’s exactly what I did when my experience with love conclusively demonstrated that my expectation of “happily ever after” wasn’t going to be met. My attitude, fueled by disappointed expectations, went from an uncertainty about being loved by God to a defiant certainty that being loved by Him did not matter. After all, what good did the love of God do for me? I had seen what looked like heaven and gotten slapped with my inability to reach it. My life had gotten harder. I was disappointed. I felt cheated. I was afraid. Therefore, I did what came easily – self protection. I got angry, and I passionately hurled my indifference at God. “So what if You love me? So what? I don’t care!”

That was a lie. I did care. I cared a lot. I did not want to care, but I cared so much that even as I ranted and railed and quivered deep within my prickles, I still gave myself away. I would scream at God about my own frustration, and then turn around and utter deeply caring prayers for others.

Thing is that I was wrong. I know I said that before, but it bears repeating. I was wrong. I didn’t really know it, and I can’t say that I figured it out all on my own. Like I said, I felt cheated and so on. I felt like being loved by God was was like into a grocery aisle fart cloud, and it was annoying that He just kept loving me, but what I believed about the love of God and expected it to do for me made it inevitable that I would be disappointed. What I believed was wrong.

Despite my frustration, I kept reading the Bible and thinking over what I’d been reading. Did you know that God doesn’t say that life will be ponies and butterflies and rainbows??? No, He promises trials and tribulations – troubles! You know, challenges! You know, hardship. It slowly sank in past my prickliness and began to educate my heart about what would be an honest, informed, more mature expectation of God’s love. I needed that. Without it, I was certain to be continually experiencing a negative cycle of disappointment, one lacking in fish and rich in worms. I might not like to fish, but given a can of worms and choice, I’d much rather use the worms to catch fish for dinner than eat worms!

Let’s see if I can finish this up. I was disappointed. I’d allowed my disappointment to rocket me into a high flying and rotten attitude, but ultimately, that feeling did me a favor. It unmasked my misconceptions about God’s love and what God’s love would do for me. It unmistakably demonstrated that I was wrong and needed a course correction. Those mistaken perceptions were sitting under the surface, and in a case like this, what I didn’t know most certainly could hurt me. It’s not like they were in stasis or inert and therefore not affecting my life. No, they were something more like land mines (or, for an example closer to home, dog poop. Who hasn’t dealt with dog poop on a lawn at some point?), more or less quiescent and inoffensive until they got stepped on. Once they were  bothered, I got an explosion, be it of energy or stink, and a nasty mess with which to deal.

It is inevitable that those land mines of misconception will be stepped upon. Hey, man, sh… um, mess happens! When that happens, when disappointment and all its friends surface, I’d submit that skipping past go, picking up the $200,  and dwelling on the wrongs is not particularly profitable. It can feel better for a little while, but it does not seem to produce any resolution. I’d submit that more is going on inside myself than what was done to me, and that it may indeed be worth my while to stay put and do some soul searching with God. I’d submit that the experience of disappointment is actually a fishing opportunity, and that God can use it to feed my soul like few other things. I’d submit that disappointment can play an important role in the process of redemption and becoming more like Christ. It is NOT inevitable that the disappointments I experience in this life must needs to shove me away from the welcoming arms of Jesus. Rather, it is imperative that I refuse to be stampeded and allow God to redeem me there, to mature my faith.

What do you do with your disappointment? What do you believe about it, and because of your experience with it, what do you believe about God, yourself, and your community?