DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT: FINDING CONTENTMENT IN THE TRENCHES

NeverLoseHope
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

I had a big fat disappointing moment this last week. I went out on a limb, took a leap of faith - and I got the wind knocked out of me as I fell and bit the dust. It felt like failure…and rejection…and pain.  I was confident, composed, assured…so it was a surprise - a left hook. I was blindsided by disappointment.

Do you ever have those moments? Where you just KNOW, you feel it in your gut that you're *hashtag* WINNING (like, hello! I'm awesome right now, and totally got this!). And then you TOTALLY DON'T. I felt like something that was mine was taken from me, like I had lost something important. Things did NOT go my way, and frankly, it sucked.

But, despite it all, I didn't want to stay mired in the trenches of self-pity, or get stuck in discouragement. I needed a way to find contentment, despite the less-than-ideal circumstances.

If you can relate at all, I'm here to encourage you with a few golden nuggets I've learned to talk myself off the "poor-me" ledge, and move over to the greener pastures of contentment:

1. IT'S NOT ME
Now I know this may sound like a cop-out, but it very well may be the truth in my or your situation. And let's be honest, I'm my own worst critic by far. However, there may be extenuating circumstances unbeknownst to me as to why things didn't pan out the way I wanted. I may in fact be completely qualified, capable, have done and said everything right, gone through all the motions, and it just didn't work out for one reason or another. So I have to remember to tell myself: don't play the blame game - on myself or anyone else. Life is way too short to spend another day at war with myself, or worse - bitter towards someone else!

2. IT'S ME...
And my perspective. Sometimes I get disappointed only because I'm seeing the situation through the wrong lens. I love this quote:

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
-William A. Ward

I choose the part of the realist, here. Quit complaining. Quit expecting the situation to just change. Pull your big boy/girl pants up and choose to adapt. I know it's easier said than done, but perspective is everything. And it takes A LOT of courage to release the pain, guilt, shame & disappointment in order to see & embrace the new, and maybe unfamiliar, territory ahead.

3. IT'S NOT THE FIRST, NOR THE LAST
I have to be real with myself on this one - Is this the first time I've EVER had a good thing come my way? Is this the first time I've EVER been disappointed?  No and no - and I'm sure I'm not the only one here! The bad news, I'll probably have plenty more disappointments in my life somewhere down the road. The good news, there's going to be a million more GREAT and AMAZING things coming that are worth celebrating - things for me and you. We just have to trust.

"…He has heard my cries for help. The Eternal is the source of my strength and the shield that guards me. When I learn to rest and truly trust Him, He sends His help." 
- Psalm 28:6-7

4. IT'S MY FOCUS (or lack-therof)
If perspective is how you see or filter something, your focus is what your choosing to look at to begin with. If I'm ONLY looking at the fact that I didn't get what I expected or wanted, or things didn't happen the way I'd hoped, there's probably something I'm missing. Maybe I was meant to "miss out" or "lose", only to be positioned for the next great thing or season coming up! Or maybe I was meant to learn something through this circumstance. I have to remember to open my eyes - maybe there's something there I didn't see before.

"When you focus on problems, you'll have more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you'll have more opportunities." 
- Unknown

Maybe this loss is really an opportunity in disguise. I heard it said once, "Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat." So, if this is in fact an unfortunate event, then it may ALSO just be an opportunity in disguise. What can I learn from this experience? What am I supposed to see? How can I grow? Quit focusing on what I don't have and start focusing on what I do. There may be more there than I saw to begin with. I start with praying, "God, let me see with your eyes!"

5. IT'S GOING TO BE OK
Really. I'm not just saying that. It really really will be. It feels awful & terrible, AND disappointing right now. But I'm going to make the choice to not let the bad news consume me. I'm a strong, capable overcomer! I'm going to press in and press on, and most likely, I'm going to be the better and wiser for it. I'm bold and brave. One disappointment or failure doesn't change that. I'm STILL bold and brave. Fear, doubt & worry have NO place in my life. I CHOOSE JOY instead. It's not always easy to choose to be ok. In fact, sometimes I have the "I just wanna be mad, angry, sad, & upset for awhile" attitude. But as I said before, disappointment is inevitable - so I'm not going to let disappointment turn to discouragement. I was never meant to let myself go there.

I'll leave you with this friend: When it comes to disappointment, you're not alone. We all go through moments, circumstances, even seasons where things just don't seem to be working out. But this I know for certain: God is on our side. He is the source of our strength, an ever present help, who lifts us up when we're downcast.

"Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He's sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped."
- Charles Stanley

Be encouraged, friend. Contentment IS something you can have and choose in each moment. Never lose hope.

xoxo - Ali Rae Alltop

I would love to hear about how you conquer disappointment! Whether it's a certain verse or process, let's chat more in the comments below, or send me a personal email! I'd love to hear from you :)