Tag Archives: disappointment

Permission to Disappoint

Winding Lane by Jennifer Upton

Winding Lane by Jennifer Upton

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.”)



Filed under Healing, Perfectionism

Strengthen What Remains

Image Source: Jennifer Upton

Image Source: Jennifer Upton

For the last week, I have found myself glancing at the calendar impatiently, as if somehow I can coax the last few days of this month to move a little faster.  February has not been kind to me.  I am ready to shout some version of “Good riddance!” and “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

It’s frustrating.  I had a lot of hopes for this month, plans, intentions.  But it seems like all my hopes were met with disappointment or hurt or failure or a dismal combination of all of the above.  Throw in a very unexpected, expensive vehicle repair and a very sick child, and I’m telling you, this is not the recipe for a good time.  So here I am – glaring at the remaining days and trying to stay low key, avoid anymore upsets.

Until it dawned on me.  This is not how God works.  Not one bit.  He never stares us down and sighs with exasperation, “Well, you screwed that up, so let’s just bide your time and get past this.”  He never looks at a person or circumstance only to toss them into the “lost cause” pile.  His mercies are new every morning.  No – wait.  Don’t glaze over that as a cliche or overused Bible verse.  Drink it in – Mercy. Fresh. Today. Now.

God never stops believing in redemption.  It is the story He has been writing since the beginning of time, and He will not stop until all things are reconciled to Him.  And all He is asking is for us to believe in this too: nothing is beyond the reach of His redemption. Nothing.


Because everything else fades away – things spoken to us and over us, things we think we know, seasons we are in, the limited picture we can see now.  It will all cease and be stilled and pass away.  And then these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these?


Which brings me full circle to my hopes for February.  I wanted to spend the month pondering and probing the depths of this love – His love and the glimpses of love He offers us through others on this earth.  So maybe it hasn’t gone according to plan, but there are three more days in this month, today included.  And today is as good as any to stare full on into the wonders of His love.

In all my interactions with people, most especially with my children, I find myself considering more and more – what is the most important truth I can leave on this heart today?

And it is this – His love does not fail.  It is relentless.  It is powerful enough to redeem anything and everything.  Where we feel there is nothing left – no hope, no goodness – His love is the breath that strengthens what remains and infuses us with new life.

You do not have to give up today.  His love most certainly will not let you go.

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Hope, Love, Presence

Shadows & Light: 2013


Image by Jennifer Upton

This has been a year of contradictions, a tug of war for what will be cast on my heart – shadows or light.  I met 2013 with hope, lots and lots of hope.  Processes of change had been set in motion, and it was good.  The shift seemed a long time in coming, but still, at least we were on a steady trajectory for it to come.

July found me tired, but continuing to swell with hope.  And the words began to come from others – promise, hope, leadership, dreams fulfilled, moves that would unlock destiny, more and more promises.  I embraced it all.  It has been a long, dreadful desert season, valley, period of drought – choose your spiritual metaphor.  I will admit my hope has wavered, but it has never been lost.

Until the pieces began to crumble fast and furious.  Forgive me if this is too raw, but there is no other way to say it – most of my hopes for this year have been met with bitter disappointment.  And when I was asked to reflect on this year and look for the breath of redemption on the hard places, I put off the task as long as possible.  It is difficult for me to confess so many of the hard places seem to have no hope of redemption right now, that they seem to actually have become more hopeless than they already were.

Many of the hard places, but not all.

In the midst of the multitude of shadows on the landscape of 2013, there are two beacons of light.

The first is my marriage.  My husband and I celebrated six years of covenant love (to borrow a phrase from a friend), and it is nothing short of miraculous.  In an effort to protect each other from the ache of our individual emotions as we faced one loss and disappointment after another, we unwittingly built a wall between our hearts.  And suddenly one day, we realized it was there, and we did not know how to scale it.  It could have undone us.  As a matter of fact, I have no doubt that was exactly what the enemy intended, but fortunately the whispers of the Holy Spirit were stronger than the web designed to capture us.  What has resulted is a stronger, more unmovable love than we could have imagined and the healthiest communication we’ve ever had.  The wall has been demolished, we are wiser than we were and in spite of the continual frustrations life throws at us, we are enjoying a renewed passion and vibrancy in our marriage.  Redemption breathes.

The second is my writing.  When all the disappointments had become too much and I had to unlock the tension before it devoured me, I returned to the written word, something I had laid down several years back.  I set up this blog, I was gifted with the opportunity to become part of Story Sessions (something that has changed my life and rescued my sanity) and I began working on the book that has been floating around my head.  It was hard at first – the discipline, the re-acquainting with my words and re-discovering my voice.  But it is coming, more and more with each day and releasing many other creative places I thought were lost.  And if the writing wasn’t enough, I became part of the most incredible, life-giving community I have ever known.  And again, redemption breathes.

Truthfully, I do not know what to expect from 2014, and I am quivering with the fear of hope – she was not kind to me this past year.  But I will start at the points of light I was given, and take careful steps from there.  And perhaps, redemption will breathe again, and light will send the shadows scattering.


Filed under Hope, Marriage, Uncategorized, Writing

Dear December

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear December:

You and I need to have a talk, here on the eve before you consume the world.  Pull up a chair.  I’ll pour us each a glass of wine, and we can sit by the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree, melancholy Wintersong in the background.

I have been thinking long and hard on what I’d like to say to you, yet I find myself still mostly at a loss.

What can I say?  I have always embraced you, arms and heart wide open, ready to push aside the dreariness and drink in your sparkle.  No matter how weary my heart may be, you come near, and I begin to find renewed faith in miracles.  Hope raises her head once more, in spite of anything else trying to smother her fire.

But for quite some time now, I cannot say you have returned the favor.  You smile, but it never reaches your eyes.  You reach out your hand, but you never pull me near.  I begin to suspect, if it were wholly up to you, you just might consider leaving me alone in the cold, but somehow my stubborn determination to cling to childlike wonder still wears you down.

It is tempting to give up the attempt to wrap you in a lingering embrace.  The fight in me is waning after years of one intense battle after another.  Hopes for miracles have been dashed again and again, and I have cried enough tears to float a small boat.  I am tired of hope and faith and clinging to promises that have yet to come true.

Still, do you see these blossoms peering beneath the snow?  It will take more than a blanket of your ice to smother the beauty my heart believes in.  You cannot snuff out life with your chilling whispers and piercing winds.   No, December, you underestimate the resilience of a fire rekindled in the midst of broken hearts and shattered dreams.  If sparks can blaze to life even while tears fall, your blizzards are outmatched already.

So dump your ice and sleet on us.  Blow those winds that bite our bones.  I will keep my course, one foot planted in front of the other, one more step and one more day.  Perhaps your frozen heart will thaw a little, and you will choose to be more kind.  We will be here, our candles lit to welcome your warmer side.

I do not know what to expect from you this year.  {this scares me slightly. A lot.}  But go on and come; maybe one starry, frosted night at a time, you and I can sit alone and resolve our differences.  Maybe you can learn to love me again.

*This post was inspired by a prompt from Story Sessions.



Filed under Faith, Hope, Miracles, Waiting