How to Overcome Disappointment
Charles Naylor, 1920
You have been disappointed, haven't you? Of course you have, again and again. Does it hurt very much when things do not go as you have planned and hoped? Does it seem as if you "just can't stand it"?
Some people can bear disappointment — they seem to have learned the secret of taking off the keen edge so that it does not hurt so much. Have you learned that secret yet? I imagine that I hear someone say, "Oh! I wish I knew the secret!" There is more than one part to the secret. You may learn it if you will — you may get where you can bear disappointment and keep sweet all the time.
Many people are certain to be disappointed. They set their heart so fully upon the thing they wish to have or do, whatever it may be, that they make no provision whatever, except to carry out their plans exactly as they have devised them. They do not provide for any contingencies that may arise. Their plans fill their whole horizon. They can see nothing else — they can think of nothing else — they want it just their way, and no other way. Thus they are certain to suffer keen disappointment, should anything happen different from what they expect. This is what puts the sting in disappointment.
Always make provision in your plans for whatever may happen. Always make your promises to yourself with the proviso, "If nothing prevents." If you are going on a journey, say, "If it does not rain, or if I am well, or if this or that does not prevent." Keep the thought in your mind that something may prevent, and do not get it too much settled as a fact that you will do what you have planned. Take into consideration that you are a servant, not the master; do not forget to put in, "If the Lord wills."
If disappointment comes, it may be necessary for us to repress our feelings of dissatisfaction. If we begin pitying ourselves and saying, "Oh, it is too bad! It is just too bad!" we shall only feel the more keenly the hurt; and the more we cultivate the habit of self-pity — the more power it exercises over us. Some people have so yielded to the power of self-pity, that whole days are darkened by little trifling disappointments that they ought to throw off in a few minutes.
Nine tenths of the suffering that comes from disappointment, has its root in self-pity. You have better qualities in you — use them. When you are disappointed, take hold of yourself and say, "Here, you cannot afford to be miserable all day because of this." Repress those feelings of self-pity, lift up your head, get your eyes on something else — and begin making some new plans. Your old plans are like a broken dish, and you cannot use them any longer. All your fretting and brooding over them will not make them work out right. Take a new start, smile whether you feel like it or not. You have many other things to enjoy; do not let this one thing spoil them all. Refuse to think of your unpleasant feelings; resolutely shut the door against them. God will help you if you try.
Another thing to learn, is to submit the will and desires to God. When our plans fail — we must submit to our circumstances, whether we want to or not. If we rebel, that will not change the circumstances — but it will change our feelings. The more we rebel — the more we shall suffer. The way to get rid of the suffering, is to get rid of the rebellion. We must submit; therefore, why not do it gracefully? Many times we cannot change circumstances, no matter how much we dislike them. Resentment and rebellion will not hurt circumstances — but it will hurt us. We need to learn the lesson of submission without rebellion — submission to circumstances and to the God who ordains them.
The Lord is our Master. It is right for him to order our lives as he sees best. It is he who changes our plans for his own purpose; and when he does this, the outcome is always better than the thing of our own choosing. If we rebel, we are rebelling against God, and right there lies the danger. If we are so determined to have our own way that we do not willingly submit to God's way — then he may have to let us suffer. But when we submit and commit our ways to him — then we shall have the consolation and comfort of his Holy Spirit. If we will just learn to change a single letter in disappointment, and spell it with an "H" instead of a "d," it will help take the sting out. Try it once. This is what we have — His appointment. Now, does not that make it quite different?