Braves’ letdown reminds us of life’s reality

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Growing up, my Mom used to tell us boys, “Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed.”

I guess we Braves fans expect too much. The successful run of the 1990s and early 2000s spoiled us, and now we feel the Braves let us down when they don’t make the playoffs.

This season’s September meltdown was downright disappointing, if not disastrous. Glancing at empty stands during television broadcasts in the final month, a lot of people obviously had the same feelings.

A playoff spot was still in reach until the team was eliminated from the wild card race on Sept. 21. This downfall was sad, but not quite as dramatic as the one we witnessed in 2011. In 2011, the Braves lost 18 of their final 26 games and blew an 8.5 game lead in the wild card standings in the final few weeks of the season. And then, to add to our misery, the Braves lost to the Phillies in the 13th inning of the season’s last game after leading in the ninth. That loss eliminated them from the playoffs.

The 2014 season started with great optimism. Despite spring training injuries to pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, the Braves moved fast and secured Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana, even going over budget to do so. These two performed admirably. Then Alex Wood stepped up to become one of the top young southpaws in the majors.

But the offense sputtered, especially in September. Actually, it all but disappeared. Too many strikeouts. Very few home runs. Can’t get runners on, and then when runners do get on base, they are left stranded inning after inning. Can’t fix their swings. Kept putting overpaid and under-producing players in the lineup. The players didn’t quit, officials claimed, but it looked like they were just going through the motions.

Mercifully, an 83-loss, under-.500 season is over.

Which brings us back to disappointment. I’m not a psychologist, nor have I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express recently, but I know what it’s like to experience that dramatic letdown that comes when expectations aren’t met.

Michael Ashworth wrote, “Disappointment results from thoughts and expectations being out of line with reality … Even if you think your expectations are appropriate and realistic, they may not be realistic at all.” (Ashworth, www.psychcentral.com, “Dealing with Disappointment”).

Dr. Mary Lamia says disappointment is connected to sadness and loss.

“Disappointment comes with finality, the recognition that you don’t have, didn’t get, or will never achieve whatever it is you wanted … when you consider what might have been, in contrast to what exists in the present, you may experience disappointment.” (Lamia, www.psychologytoday.com, “Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings,” November 19, 2011).

Some disappointments are preventable, while others are totally unavoidable. You can’t control the choices someone you love makes, yet their poor judgment or bad decisions impact your life. Sometimes trust is broken. Sometimes ball players strike out with bases loaded and the game on the line. Sometimes people fail you.

Disappointment comes from living in a fallen world in which people mess up, or crises happen, or things don’t go our way.

How do we deal with disappointment?

First, accept the fact that you can’t control every outcome. Things will not always go your way, so be flexible enough to adapt. Accept the reality that God is in control and can use any circumstance for our good and for His glory. One thing you can determine is how you respond to any potential disappointing circumstance.

Second, set realistic expectations. Realign your thinking. Your child is a child and not a professional. He’s growing and learning, and so are you.

Third, learn to be content where you are. Sometimes, dissatisfaction is rooted in discontent, and discontent normally comes because we’re not thankful for what we have and where we are.

Fourth, trust the Lord every step of every day. God is God and we’re not, so we need to place our trust in Him. That means we don’t sweat the small stuff, and we run from the sin of worry. We give Him our disappointments and keep moving forward.

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[Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org and “like” them on Facebook.]