I don’t remember the first person I disappointed. Most likely it was my parents or a teacher. I don’t recall a distinct memory.
What I do recall is many other memories later in my life – agonizing over a decision for days, even months, because I couldn’t simply weigh the pros and cons and be done with it. I was also weighing who might be disappointed and how I might fix it. I recall crying on bathroom floors because someone unleashed their feelings of disappointment or because someone never said a word but I saw the shadow come into their eyes. I remember trying so hard to convince someone I had made the right decision, but still walking away with the sting of their disapproval.
However it happened, whenever it happened, a message entered my heart at a young age: do not disappoint anyone who matters to you.
This is intense pressure to live with.
Ironically I have sat with students and friends who sought my counsel, listened as they shared their list of people they feared would be disappointed. I have looked into their eyes and said, “You have to know what God is saying to you and what your heart is saying to you, and be content with that. You can’t please everyone all of the time.” I knew it. I wholeheartedly believe it. I just struggle to actually do it.
My husband and I recently had to make a decision in the best interest of our family, and it was a hard one, made harder by the people it would inevitably disappoint. Their disappointment was not pretty. But finally I am learning.
I give myself permission to disappoint.
When people care deeply about us, they will often have strong opinions about what’s best for us. Sometimes, even if they don’t care all that deeply, they will still have strong opinions about what’s best for us. The significance of the place they have in our lives can add even more to the strength of these opinions. And while I believe there is wisdom in seeking out counsel and advice, in the end, decisions are made between us and God. This has to be enough.
And interestingly, even when He has brought correction or discipline to my heart, the words “I am disappointed with you” have not once been whispered from His Spirit to mine.
People will not understand every step of our journey. It is simply not their place to understand it all or give approval to it all. And this is ok.
I take a deep breath and surrender this fear, give myself permission to move forward without the weight of the world’s disappointments.
(Today I am linking up with Marvia at The Human Impulse for Real Talk Tuesday. The theme is “I Give Myself Permission.”)