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What to do When People Disappoint

When people disappoint us, we can be so surprised. We stand there with our pretty picture shattered and say now what? What do we do when people disappoint?

When people disappoint, it’s shocking. We know in our heads that people will disappoint us, but we can be so surprised when we are standing in that place because our hearts didn’t really believe it.

Sometimes, like over the past few weeks, some of the people who have disappointed us weren’t even in our lives except through our television or politics, but when someone we respected or even idolized turns out to be merely human, we feel deeply disappointed.

But when it’s personal, oh, that moment is so crushing-staring in the face of incontrovertible evidence that someone you love fell short today. We feel betrayed.

Our picture of that person is cracked or shattered in one fell swoop. Maybe the picture of your relationship cracked too, or your perception of yourself through their eyes changed.

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Maybe you sensed it was coming, but often, one final straw finally drifts into place on the proverbial camel’s back and our relationship is on the chopping block.

I’m right there with you. Earlier last year, I wrote about how weary I am, and part of my weary is dealing with some difficult relationships. Long distances, text messages, awful choices, and busy schedules all contribute to how we disappoint each other, and I’m struggling with tough places in a few different relationships.

Here is where I’m resting today.

People always disappoint.

Because we’re flawed and human, All. Of. Us. We are going to disappoint each other, in little ways and big ones, at some point.

I had to stop being surprised when people are human.



Stop being surprised people are human. Restore them in gentleness when people disappoint. Click To Tweet

We set ourselves up with unfair expectations. We expect sinners to never fall into temptations when we fall ourselves, daily.

In that moment, when the disappointment is raw, put yourself in their shoes. Giving them all the benefit of the doubt, what do you think they were thinking? Have you ever slid down a slippery slope one tip-toe step at a time until you were headlong into the mud?

I know I have!

What do you think they are feeling now facing your disappointment? How can we meet them in Christ where they are?

How we handle the moment of disappointment may speak louder than anything else we do.

Galatians 6:1 ESV  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

What does it look like to restore someone in gentleness and avoid the temptation to sin ourselves?

First, I remember my own failures and God’s grace for me when I don’t deserve it.

I have yet to survive one day without failure. Offer grace first when people disappoint. Click To Tweet



I’ve been reading 1 & 2 Samuel recently. I’m blown away by how these familiar stories speak new wisdom to me today. The stories of Saul and David say so much about how to act when people disappoint us.

Saul was God’s anointed king for Israel, but (1 Samuel 18) in his sin, he fell from God’s grace, becoming paranoid and selfish, plotting to kill David.

David is disappointed, heartbroken, his king that God anointed, wants him dead for no failure of his own. If anyone had a right to feel disappointment, it was David.

David had loved Saul like a father. Saul’s son Jonathan was David’s best friend, closer than a brother. Yet, David had to run for his life.

David’s life on the run was miserable. He and his men were cold, hungry, uncomfortable. Again, if anyone had a right to be angry and bitter, David did. But that isn’t how David behaved.

Could you have supernatural grace for someone trying to kill you?

David twice finds Saul served to him by God’s hand, in the cave (1 Samuel 24/26 ) and in his camp asleep, but instead of letting his hurt and anger rule him, David chooses to show Saul he could have killed him, but did not.

David takes steps to protect himself, but sees Saul is really sinning against God, not himself. Despite sadness and dismay, he does not seek to return hurt for hurt.

TWICE, David spares a man who is murderously plotting against him without cause, leaving Saul’s fate in God’s hands.

Twice? why?

David’s righteousness made Saul’s sins more glaring. In light of the opportunities to kill Saul that David didn’t take, Saul should have seen David’s loyalty. However, his own sin completely blinded him.

Also, David’s responses serve as examples for us of how to continue in righteousness, even when offense piles upon offense.

So, I’m still disappointed. I have hurt feelings, I’ve lost trust in some people, and some of my relationships may not be restored right now.

But my focus has to be on God who never disappoints and staying righteous in His eyes.

I have to remember my emotions are nothing compared to God’s ability to rebuke or restore, forgive and sanctify. I can wait on Him.

Protecting myself is okay, but I should avoid returning sin for sin.

Letting God rule my heart even in the midst of big disappointments isn’t always easy. I get angry; I hurt. Indignant doesn’t look good on me, but in my own sin, I disappoint people all the time. I’m not usually trying to fail when I do.

Even in my biggest failures, one small decision led to another that led to disaster. I never set out to sin, but temptation erodes slyly.

1 Peter 5:8 ESV /Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

If I hope for grace, I have to offer it too. Recognizing that my worth and value in God’s eyes is immutable gives me pause to connect their failures with human nature, and offer a chance to explain, to understand, to apologize.

In the end, when people disappoint, I guard my own walk with Christ and forgive them, and wait for God to direct the situation. His guidance is always right on time.