Monday, November 5, 2018

Handling Disappointment

This past summer the boys and I went to the Hockey Hall of Fame because I wanted to expose them to a little hockey greatness only to discover that there was a little too much Montreal Canadiens memorabilia for my particular liking, but it was a good day nevertheless. We've also been to St. Mary's to the Baseball Hall of Fame and I'm telling you it is so worth the drive there to check out the baseball history. There are other great halls of fame that you may have been to: there's the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the Canadian Walk of Fame in Kingston and there's a few Walk of Fame’s that you probably haven't heard about or you might not have visited such as the POCA Hall of Fame in Euclid Ohio - never heard of it, never been there but you can make that a stop on your next family road trip and I'm sure your teenagers will thank you for it. There's the circus Hall of Fame in Peru Indiana and my favorite one, is the hard-core Hall of Fame in South Philly that pays tribute to the most influential pro wrestlers to ever come out of the city of Philadelphia. Their inductees include “Rocco Rock”, “the Sandman”, the tag team duo “The Pit Bulls”, and “Greg the Excellent”. He's not just good, he is Excellent. So, when you go, pay attention to that. It goes to show you that we love to honor those who achieve greatness or perhaps in some great way, or in any capacity, the Halls of Fame really celebrate people who have achieved something great or who have overcome adversity, or disappointment and have gone beyond that which is simply average. And when you go to a hall of fame you're really being introduced to stories of greatness, stories that you want to emulate and stories that inspire.

In terms of overcoming adversity and disappointment, the story to emulate and apply in your life, that will distinguish you from everyone else, is one of character, faith and obedience. Take care of your affairs, be clean and full of integrity so that slowly one person and then another will take notice that you act and operate differently, despite even the hardest circumstances. There will be a time when nothing appears to be changing. Time will march on and each and every day it will become harder and harder to emulate this story and display your difference. Others will sabotage you, try and take you down, and many people will disappoint you along the way and force you to face into many trials and tribulations. You will face many disappointments in your life – the question is, How will you respond?

We all face many disappointments and times in our lives where nothing appears to be changing. Typically, in those valleys, is the place in which you will further forge your character and where who you are is being continually crafted. Today’s blog is about what to do when life disappoints and how to respond in a manner which will build your character and integrity and not destroy it. It’s about how you take that next step forward instead of getting stuck at a stop or moving backwards. How do you handle disappointments when they come into your life? One thing for sure is that there will be a lot of them.

How we respond to trials and disappointments is one of the greatest tests of your life and in the midst of those hurts and frustrations there is a real opportunity for you to forge and shape real character. Character that others will take notice of. All people that are greatly used, first need to be greatly prepared. If you are willing to endure the greatness of preparation then the greatness you can achieve in your life and the lives of others is unstoppable.

So here you are reading along: no hope, no future to look forward to, nothing on the horizon. Maybe you’ve lost your family, maybe your freedom and yet despite these trials you find yourself at a crossroads. Decisions and choices that will impact your character and the world of those around you are in-front of you. Boy how you’d like to let-off some steam and let the world around you have it! They deserve it in fact. You’ve been unfairly treated, made to look silly and you just want to scream!
It’s in these circumstance, you need to master your mind, your tongue, your emotion and react. Here’s a hint how:
  1. Focus on others more than on yourself - man is this ever a hard. You may know that you are on your way, walking towards your own death. You are going to be beaten up, abandoned by those closest to you, and falsely accused. You need to know and understand that in these moments this is all a part of the process that is going to forge who you are and what you are in your life. These are pivotal points in your life and you need to recognize them. In these times of your life, there are always other people involved, who will be waiting and watching for your response. Whether you speak a word to them or not – you will open up your life for a moment and make a connection with them. What kind of connection will it be?
I don't know what exactly is going on in your life today and what's preoccupying your mind even now. Maybe it's good news and new opportunities, maybe it's real challenges and some deep disappointments. I don't know if it's financial, relational, family, housework, health concerns or maybe you're just really busy and a little overwhelmed but I do know that how you connect with the world around you will make the biggest impact on whether you take that next step forward.
In the midst of all that's going on in the world be focused on others and what's going on in their life, in their circumstance and come to others with the compassion, love and an invitation to trust. You also need to understand that there are others around you who are also suffering. Who are struggling. Who need your empathy, who need you to focus on them. There are other people around you right now who are struggling and dealing with big things. Are you willing to take notice of them?
Let me be clear – the response I’m talking about isn't just the oh I'll pray for you kind of response, this is a roll up your sleeves and get involved, tell me about your life and let's tackle it together response. Which leads me to hint #2…
  1. When you're dealing with life's disappointments strive not to honor yourself - This is a big one. So often when life knocks us down or we get embarrassed or we fail, we so much just want to pick ourselves back up, grab whatever dignity we have left and “move on” is the expression guys typically use.
A number of years ago there was a commercial where it showed guys in a whole bunch of different scenes getting whacked with golf clubs and banged and knocked down and they just keep popping back up from whatever just hit them, saying “I'm good”, “I'm all good”, “yeah no problem here” and then someone else gets whacked, “I'm good”. Inherently, we don't want to to confess the fact that we struggle and that we suffer when life knocks us down. We naturally just want to pop up and kind of take care of ourselves and say, “I’m good”.

So often, to feel better we think, I just need to buy something, do something, go somewhere and I’ll feel better. Or, I need to take control of the situation and maybe I can force it through. But the focus is all on me and on my ability to take care of it. People always end up hating others that lord their own success, or their ability to take care of things and their accomplishments over them. Truly, when dealing with life’s disappointments you need to approach them from an incredible position of humility. What I’m trying to say here is that the purpose in doing all this, isn't that others will look at you and say wow you're a really good guy, you got things figured out, you handled that incredibly well. The purpose instead is that when they look at you, they see no pride and acknowledge your grace. It’s at this time when your own anxiety will disappear.

Get the focus off you and the fact that you can suck it up or figure it out or manage it and instead get yourself into a position of humility. I need someone to come through for me, so I'm going to give you mine and I'm not going worry if don't you give me yours. I'm going to trust that in due time I will be lifted up. Get rid of any and all pride.

Here's a real challenging question - is the goal of your life that things will work out for you by helping others. Or is the goal of your life that you would be able to help others around you? There is a major difference. I'll help you but you need to come through for me vs. I'll help you and I'll point the attention to you. The warning to you is this. Follow this path and you may land in a prison, your dreams may not come true, you may suffer and not know why. But here's the promise - you will be used for a purpose, prepared for greatness, and when all is said and done you will be lifted up once it becomes not about you. Set your eyes on the finish line, not on the barriers that happen between here and there.

To simplify these thoughts and make them as practical as possible – here are a few things that definitely need to be missing from the story you are about to create:
  1. Complaining
  2. Bitterness
  3. Whining
When you find yourself in that place where everything is an absolute mess and yet you decide to be content and serve in the midst of it all, completely committed to others, despite your circumstances – that’s the story you’re creating. But let’s be real for a moment. I’m sure most of these things that I’m talking about here strike you as all ‘well and good’, but realistically, super-hard to perform consistently. The practical lesson, however, doesn’t stop at simply being content with getting beaten up - But it’s to then, Do Something! This isn't about sitting back and saying it's all good, I hope it works out, life will take care of itself and not do anything at all - just kind of waiting for some miracle from the sky. You need to be active. You need to be preparing for what’s coming up down the line, planning how you will interact. Trying to push open doors that come your way so that you can get out of the position your in. In short, you need to be continually looking for opportunity, and working relationships but all while serving others. Yes, I may be in a pickle today, and yes I want out of it, and yes I’m going to serve others in the midst of it while I try and get out. This isn't passive, it’s active.  Don't wallow in your misery and tell everybody how hard it is. Don't declare to everyone “I've been done wrong” or “if I was in charge, I'll tell you how I’d run this place”. Instead, be a model of character and integrity; still serving while waiting for circumstances to improve. It is so much easier to steer a car that is moving than one that is parked. It's the action and the ‘do something’ that will get you through it faster. What are you doing while you're waiting to be lifted out of your struggle? Are you trusting that your brain will get you where you need to go or are you serving, learning and growing in addition to waiting? Is there something more that you can do as you wait?

Many of us live in emotional and spiritual prisons and despite our best efforts there are still roots of pain and unhealthy thoughts and destructive habits that remain. Think about it: do you find yourself regularly angry with others, critical of yourself, deflecting of praise, caught in habits that you wish weren't there, always needing to be in control or have the last word. Those emotions, those actions are really like shackles that hold you back and keep you from moving forward in your relationships and they are the very thing that you need to be set free from.

These shackles show up in all kinds of different ways. Maybe in your life it shows up with you arguing with your spouse in anger. Or maybe you're being tempted to over eat or over exercise or a dozen other little secret struggles but I'm telling you that beneath all of those symptoms you will find a wounded empty heart, filled with shame, looking for hope and freedom. As you serve others the unhealthy destructive ways will begin to lose their power and they will become less and less attractive. They will lose their hold on you, and so will shame. You're not meant to live in shame, you're meant to live in victory and shame will lose its grip and its control over you as the new truth of who you are becomes a reality.

In its simplest form, the freedom comes as you rewrite your story. We're all called to do something while we wait and maybe the thing you're to do in this season of your life - is to get things right on the inside and get free from some of the hurts and the habits that you have become sick of dealing with.

For some of us, creating these new habits takes a long time. But every journey starts with its first step and boy what an amazing ending once you realize how to accomplish this in your life and set yourself free. Free to demonstrate a full life to others, confident, principled and able to speak the truth even when it's hard. Even in the toughest times not to have to water it down or rationalize it away. To be able to speak it out even when it makes you unpopular, and even if its something this guy doesn't want to hear. In those moments you will either take another step forward or continue to be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind.  Love without truth is just sentiment. It's mush and it has no lasting value. But truth spoken with grace and lavished with love becomes a fact because it really reassures, secures, and leads us to victory over the lies – it helps us grow to become the men and the women with a story of character and integrity.

We can all be Hall of Fame'rs and we can achieve that by learning how to handle life’s disappointments. In the midst of disappointment focus on others more than yourself. In humility, strive to honor others and trust and wait in the midst of that, to do something and get involved to always speak the truth in love - even when it's hard. If you do these things then you will have a life story that is about character and perseverance and a story that's about adventure and adversity and a story that is grounded in hope despite all that you are facing.

At TeleCounsel Group our counselors are trained to assist you in this journey and in the midst of whatever trial you are facing and help you figure out that next step to take in service while you wait. Call us today at 1.855.257.9444 or visit us at telecounselgroup.com



References: Andrew Gordon (Speaker). (2017, September). Messages [Audio]. Retrieved from https://www.thisiscompass.com/

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