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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.

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Haircut Failure

Have you ever known you were making a mistake while you were doing it, and kept at it anyway? I think that pretty much sums up my daughter’s recent, unplanned haircut, for both of us. *SIGH*

Being a mother challenges the worrier in all of us. I’ve struggled with worry. I’m learning to take my worry to God and doing better at leaving it with Him. I hate the scary things in this world, but am learning to seek wisdom and understanding what things I can actually control, and to know when to pray and let it just be on my radar instead of blocking my entire path. And I think I can really see some growth in my heart.

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Hair barely long enough to barrette at 2

Which is why my failure to keep perspective this weekend really threw me for a loop. A vain and silly worry, for sure, but I’ve always been afraid my daughter would cut her own hair. (Let’s just say many women have childhood trauma relating to this issue.) It took 3 1/2 years for her to have enough hair to even get her first “trim”. She only plays with scissors in supervised situations for this very reason. She is my only little girl and selfishly, I wanted her to have pretty hair for me to style.

When she came home from the neighbor’s house on Sunday, something wasn’t quite right. Then, I saw it, several chunks of her hair were missing. The more I looked the more pieces became evident. Someone had made several snips on both sides of her face. My instant emotion was not pretty.

I even heard God whisper, “How you react is important” and I barely paused. My reaction could have been worse, but it certainly did not reflect the grace and love of God, at least not at first. I cried and got loud. I knew it was wrong.

She immediately claimed the neighbor did it. And she isn’t a good liar, but, man, she had commitment, took us 30 minutes to get her to admit she did it.

While she was in time out for lying to us, my husband convicted me of losing control. He was kind and gracious, and acknowledged that I handled it much better than he would have expected from a couple of years ago, but that I still needed to calm down before saying anything more to her. God whispered to me again, “How you react is important.”

I didn’t want him to be right, but he was. And I told him so. We talked and processed, then called the kiddo back into the room. We set punishments for 1) cutting anything other than craft paper, 2) breaking the rules at a friend’s house, 3) lying about what happened, 4) trying to get her friend in trouble. Then she apologized to me and her dad. I apologized for being too upset about her hair when it really isn’t important. Then we prayed. She apologized to God, and so did I. We talked nose-to-nose, our tears mingling as we prayed. Then I scooped her up and wrapped her in love and forgiveness.

But I stayed sad inside. Her hair! I can’t fix it. She cut it in such a way that I don’t think anything but time can mend. And then I felt like even more of a failure for letting vanity be more important than setting a Godly example.

Proverbs 31:30 ESV  “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

If teaching her to be Godly is the goal, then demonstrating true beauty and obedience to God needs to be my default reaction. How can I go into a tailspin over something that really doesn’t matter? Especially when I know His truth.

Matthew 6:25 ESV  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

I’ve been told my value is in my appearance by every magazine, movie, and billboard. And now that I’ve kind of gotten control over most of my self-esteem/vanity monster, I realize that maybe I’ve just put energy into making her cute and adorable instead of myself. Looks like some time for more growth. God says not to be anxious over any of it, that what we really need, He will provide.

So I’ve spent a few days asking for God to help me grow in this area.

Psalm 119:37 ESV “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”

And then I felt like a failure for not obeying God, for throwing away a chance to witness to my husband over a few (albeit importantly placed) locks of hair.

But then I was doing my Bible study, A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, this morning and came across this verse.

Revelation 12:10 ESV  “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

The accuser lies to us day and night, whispering to us things like, “You’re a failure.”

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Side braid to hide the four different lengths

Well, I failed, I sinned, but I accepted correction. I prayed in front of my family for forgiveness. I am doing my best to change my heart about this issue and learn some new funky hair styles to hide the mismatched strands.

What did Jesus say to the adulteress (caught in the act) that people wanted to stone?

(vs. 10) “Has no one condemned you?”     John 8:11 ESV  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

That is the truth. I have to trust that I’m forgiven because He says I am. I have to learn and do better. Her hair will grow back very, very slowly. And side braids are cute, right?