Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When People Disappoint

He didn't show up.  She wasn't there when you needed her.  People not pulling their weight.  Watching someone make foolish decisions when they should know better.  When it all just isn't what it should be or what you expected.

People disappoint us all. the. time.  Some days it's easy to slough it off, because "Honestly, what did I expect from them?"  But then it comes from those that really matter, those that know how important today is or how much you needed them and it hurts sooo much.  And what do you do then?  Well, I usually cry or get mad.  Or both.  In my anger, guilt trips well up within me, begging to be spewed onto someone deserving so that they will feel bad about what they've done.  They shouldn't be treating me (or the issue, situation, etc.) like this, after all!

Yes, extreme disappointment seems to be hereditary! :)
A lot of times I'm right.  They shouldn't have behaved this way and maybe it is all their fault, with no where else to lay the blame.  But the hard question that I usually ask too late is, will my shaming them or guilting them for what happened change their behavior, strengthen the relationship and quicken the process of growth?  Or am I giving them something else to resist or fight with that will ultimately delay a genuine change of heart or authentic concern for the person/issue? Usually, it's the latter.

There is a place and a need for expressing disappointment, concern, what I think is the right thing to do in this situation.  Boundaries need to be set with the people in your life.  Especially in raising children or in dealing with someone much less experienced than you.  But it's easy to forget that even those have limits.  We all are individuals with free will - our choices are just that - ours.  And loads of guilt piled up everywhere doesn't bring about a healthy loving person.  It brings about fear, obligation and ultimately resentment.

When someone hurts me, I want their love of me (and/or God) to bring about a change when they realize I've been hurt.  I don't want them to start walking on egg shells, trying to please me out of obligation and then resenting the place I hold in their life.  So, instead of a big guilt trip every time people disappoint, what can we do?  Here are a few suggestions that might help.  If you have some thoughts, please share them. This is a bad habit that just won't quit sometimes and I need all the help I can get.

-Pray for them.  They might not be your enemy, but praying for them can bring about patience and understanding on your part.

-Throw energy into not disappointing others.  Make wise decisions, carry your load - live the way you wish they would.  Sometimes an example holds much more power if words are left unsaid.

-Let them go.  They are not you.  It's hard to not get our own pride and self-worth tangled into wanting what's 'best' for others.  Love them, but understand you can't control them and it's not your fault if they don't go the way you would.

-Keep the relationship healthy.  Some severe situations this may not apply, but for most things watch your mouth.  Today may not be the day where they will make wise choices, but don't you want to be able to help when that day comes?  Bad mouthing and writing someone off only hurts.

-Consider that you might be wrong.  Maybe this will turn out to be for the best.  Maybe they were making a wise choice, you just didn't have all the information.  The Lord can make beautiful things out of horrible messes.  Pause and remember that maybe that's what's happening here.
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