Dealing with Disappointment

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This week, Freddie Freeman hit his first homerun as a Los Angeles Dodger in his first at bat against his former teammates. What a storyline!

Right after the World Series, Atlanta Braves fans anxiously awaited the Braves and first baseman Freeman’s agreement on a new contract allowing him to finish his career as a Brave. It didn’t happen.

As the situation dragged out, I prepared myself for the probability the two sides would part ways. Eventually, they did, in dramatic fashion.

In mid-March, the Braves traded for Matt Olsen to play first base and subsequently Freeman, a free agent, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Atlanta native Olsen returns to the city to play for his hometown team, while Freeman returns to his native southern California to play in front of his friends and family.

Sounds like a win-win for both men and both franchises, but many Braves fans felt disappointment. There was that initial letdown when the news reported we secured a new first baseman, making it obvious Freddie was not returning. We fans reminded ourselves, though we get emotionally attached to our favorites, baseball is ultimately a business, and business is business.

Former Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti, speaking of the emotion of the game, wrote, “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.”

Not only do our teams let us down and our hearts break, but life doesn’t work out the way we envision sometimes. We briefly thought we’d get to keep an out-of-state grandson for a few days this summer while his parents travel. We worked out our schedules and started making plans, then logistics changed on the other end. What appeared to be developing isn’t going to happen.

Disappointment is part of living life in a world that’s not always fair. How do you define disappointment? Disappointment is the feeling we experience when our hopes are not fulfilled, or our expectations are not met. Sometimes unrealistic expectations do not match actual circumstances. Thus, we sense a moment of sadness.

How do we deal with disappointment?

First, own it. It’s okay to say, “I’m really disappointed.” Recognize the sadness and take a moment to grieve.

Second, name it. Part of owning it is recognizing exactly why you’re disappointed. Identify the gap between expectation and reality and express, “I am disappointed because __________.”

Third, share it with a trusted listener. Get it off your chest and talk it out.

Fourth, refuse to dwell on it. Life moves on and so must we. It’s unhealthy to dwell in the “valley of unmet expectations.”

Fifth, embrace the let-down as an opportunity to grow. I was a late bloomer on the bicycle front. Just as many teens delay getting their drivers’ licenses these days, I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was in fourth grade. I don’t remember why I took so long, maybe because I didn’t like falling on asphalt and getting scraped up.

Early one Saturday morning, I raised the garage door, mounted my bike and rode down the driveway. No helmet, no help, just me, my bike and possibly disaster ahead. I kept my balance … for a few minutes.

Yet, this particular morning, when I fell, I hopped back on my bike and rode again until my confidence grew. Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Disappointment can teach resilience.

Sixth, replace disappointment with deeper trust. Isaiah 26:4 presents a powerful reminder to those dealing with disappointment: “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock” (ESV). When life is uncertain, God is always certain. He is our rock. Trust God.

Seventh, focus on the Peace-giver, not the peace-disruptors. Isaiah 26:3 reads, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” We too readily focus on the circumstances robbing our peace rather than the Person who brings peace and comfort.

Eighth, thank God anyway. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Thank God that He is in control and works all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

God may have something far better for us than what didn’t work out.

[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, 352 McDonough Road, Fayetteville, Georgia. Join them this Sunday for worship at 10 a.m. and Bible study at 11:10 a.m. View online options at www.mcdonoughroad.org. Visit www.davidchancey.com to see more of Chancey’s writings.]