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Trust and Disappointment pt. 2

January 13, 2019

If you’re an Eagle’s fan, you’ve probably still got a smile on your face.  A one-point win is still a win.  And a big win in the playoffs.  When lots of sports writers and broadcasters and prognosticators were convinced you didn’t have a chance.

Lots of Chicago Bears were disappointed when a field goal that could have won the game double-doinked and they were eliminated.  Depending on how one feels about football in general, and the Chicago Bears in particular, this double-doink loss was either just a sporting disappointment or a HUGE, life-altering disappointment.  Again!  Bring back the Ditka days!

How you feel about the outcome of that particular game notwithstanding, everybody who reads these words (all 12 of you… I’m gratified that you do.  Really.  So THANK YOU!) knows what it feels like to have to do something about it.  There is no inoculation against disappointment.  It will find everybody.

Some people say the best way to deal with it is to keep from being disappointed, and the best way to do that is to lower your expectations.  Realistically, the only way this works is if you eliminate expectations.  Simply lowered expectations can still be disappointed.  I’ve never been able to pull off the zero-expectations thing, though.  Especially not for things that actually matter.  My personal experience and my observation of other people’s lives leads me to conclude that it’s really not possible to eliminate expectations.  Mr. Spock is a mythical character from a 1970s SciFi series.  You’re not him.  He may have had no emotions, but you do.  And that makes you (and me) vulnerable to disappointment.

The most important thing is to figure out what to do when they get disappointed, instead of somehow limiting or eliminating our expectations.  That old saying is true, “Life is 20% about what happens to you and 80% about what you do about what happens to you.”  So let’s think about what you can do about what happens to you.

Formulas and templates can be useful, but no formula or template will ever cover every situation or event.  This particular template is good, but not perfect.  See what it might do to help you.

First thing: acknowledge the disappointment.  Pretending it doesn’t matter doesn’t work.  Obsessing about it doesn’t, either.  Don’t dwell and obsess over the disappointment.  Identify and acknowledge it.  I do this in my journal, mostly.  On occasion I’ve needed to identify it and talk to someone else about it.  This is tricky, though.  Acknowledging a disappointment to another person can quickly become complaining and gossiping.  The person other than myself that I most likely need to acknowledge it to is the person who disappointed me.  That can be (usually is) a delicate thing that requires maturity and a settled mind and spirit to pull off.  Maybe I’ll come back to this in more detail later, but there’s not room for it here.

Second thing: forgive the offender.  Now we’re in the deep end of the pool.  You don’t just snap your finger and forgive.  Forgiving is a process, not an event.  You enter and re-enter a process of forgiving the offender every time the offense comes to mind.  Easy for me to type, really hard to do in real life.  Especially if the offender is a chronic offender.  It would be a lot easier if it was a one-off thing.  It often isn’t, though.  Don’t go into this without educating yourself to believe and behave as if forgiving is a process that may take a long time to move through.  As with the acknowledgement thing, there’s a ton more that I can say about this, but there’s not space for it here.  Maybe (probably) I’ll come back to it.

Something that can be very useful in the process of forgiving is that at the bottom line, forgiving an offender is not so much for the offender as it is for you.  Who goes free when you forgive an offender?  YOU DO!  Many of us burn off too much of our lives attached to the painful experiences we’ve had because we nurse our hurts without releasing them in the forgiveness process.  It’s not instant and it’s often not easy, but there’s so much more freedom in forgiving than in holding on to your hurts, even if they’re deep hurts.  Staying in the process is the key.

Third thing: Permit the offender to rebuild trust.  Notice what I didn’t say.  I didn’t say “trust the offender.”  Forgiving an offender doesn’t require trusting them.  Forgiveness is free, but trust is always earned.  So don’t think that because you’re in the process of forgiving an offender you’re compelled to trust them.   You’re not.

On the other side of that coin is the fact that for your trust to be earned back, the offender has be permitted to do things that tell you they’re trustworthy.  This starts with knowing what will tell you they’re demonstrating reliability and trustworthiness.  Husbands (males, in general) are notorious for not being able to figure out what it will take to win their wives’ trust back.  After a few misses, they give up.  It’s not a gender issue, though.  Both men and women need to know what the targets are for earning trust back.

The question for the offended is, “What specific things am I looking for to know I can begin to trust them?”  This is often not easy to come up with.  You may need some outside help with this.  A mature, trusted Christian friend.  A good counselor.  This may be your best bud, but there’s a pretty strong possibility it won’t be.  Their spiritual and emotional maturity are the keys.

Another thing about this permitting trust thing is that most offenders who are attempting to earn back trust need to hear their efforts acknowledged.  You don’t have to print up a certificate or give out a medal for it.  Just acknowledge it.  A simple “thank you” works.

Fourth thing: Go slow.  Trust grows over time.  Give yourself time.  You don’t have to throw the trust door wide-open all at once.  It’s wise to release trust over time.  This makes sense, since it grows over time.  But if you’ve done the third thing, you’ll see (or not see) what you need to be able to safely release trust to the offender as they demonstrate that they can be trusted.

One more thing: Don’t forget, you’re not in this alone.  The Great Forgiver, God, wants to give you everything you need to rebound and recover from disappointment.  So ask Him for His help.  In fact, I should have put this up before the first thing.

I told you a few paragraphs ago that there are no perfect templates, no perfect formulas.  That includes this one.  But maybe it can help you move in the direction of recovery.



From → Marriage

  1. Dureen permalink

    Your formulas are full of insight, wisdom, maturity and truth. Thanks!

  2. Dureen permalink

    Great advice!

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