Last week I wrote about things you should do after you get engaged, if 2017 went out and 2018 started with a bang and a cloud of love and happiness. That’s not everybody’s story though. There’s this great song by The Weepies called “Not Your Year.” Not going to lie, it’s been my theme song on occasion in years past. Sometimes, you just have a bad year (or two)
You thought you were going to get engaged, but you broke up instead. You got passed over for your dream job. The doctor gave you a not so great diagnosis. A relationship fell apart when you were trying to save it. Another year has gone by and X (whatever X is) still hasn’t happened. All of the above happened and more. There are about a million ways that life can disappoint us and we all face disappointment, hurt, and rejection at times.
What do we do if life didn’t go how we planned or wished? How do we deal with disappointment? What do we do if it’s just not our year?
Here’s another list of my top suggestions. This one is not nearly as happy, but probably more useful. You only get engaged once (hopefully). You’re going to face disappointment over and over and over again. I’m not claiming that these will solve your disappointment and hurt. Actually, I can guarantee you that they won’t. What I can tell you is that I’ve found them to be helpful for me in dealing with my hurts and disappointments and rejections and years that weren’t my year. I hope you will find them helpful too.
1. Be Sad
It’s okay to be sad when something disappointing happens. If you just got broken up with or you just got passed over for your dream job, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to mourn over a dead dream. This doesn’t always mean some terrible thing happened in your life.
Dreams sometimes die in undramatic ways too. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t mourn over them. If you always wanted to get married really young and now you’re over 30, it’s okay to mourn over that. If you thought you would be established in your career by now and you’re still trying to get your foot in the door, you can cry about that too.
Things didn’t turn out as you planned and hoped. It’s perfectly legitimate to be upset about a dream that didn’t come true, especially if it was one you really treasured. Even if you realize that good things came out of that dream not coming true, you can still be sad about it.
2. But Don’t Turn Your Life into a Pity Party
There’s a line between grieving well and falling into a pit of self-focused despair. I think I’ve often been guilty of falling into that pit. When we’re hurt, it’s so easy to just focus on the pain. There are times where we just need to sit and cry and present our hurts to God and maybe a close friend or two.
The trick is, we can’t focus on our own hurts for too long. If we do, we inadvertently start to become self-absorbed. That’s not good for anybody. Make sure you draw yourself out instead of only looking in.
Spend time with a good friend. Go out to dinner with a group. Join a Bible study or small group. Serve somewhere. Any and all of these things can help remind you that there is life beyond the pain you’re currently experiencing.
Is it going to be easy to do this? No. I went on a road trip to visit my best friend right after getting broken up with. Was a road trip the first thing on my list of things I wanted to do? No. First on that list was probably cry, then scream, then cry some more.
Instead, I allowed my friend to draw me out, to talk about what had happened and to think about what might be in the future. This kept me from just having a giant pity party for myself for those few days. It didn’t fix the hurt for good, but it did keep me from thinking all my life consisted of was pain.
3. Be Mad at God if You Want
I think we sometimes get this idea as Christians that we’re just supposed to be at peace and happy with whatever happens in our life. While we are called to trust God with whatever happens, I don’t think He expects us to just sit there silently and accept everything without question. That not even a biblical thought.
Job got mad at God and accused him of being unfair. David was often angry with God (have your read the Psalms?). Even Jesus begged God not to do something He knew was coming. It’s okay for us to cry and shout and curse at God. Sometimes we just need to vent. I think God knows that. I think He’s okay with that. He hasn’t struck me down dead yet after some of the things I’ve said to Him and accused Him of when I was upset, disappointed, and hurt.
God is big enough to handle our anger and our doubts and our messiness. That doesn’t always mean it will be pretty or that we will understand 100% why a particular thing happened after we cream at God for an hour or two. I don’t think we get that until we get to heaven. It does mean that we can come to God with our doubts and hurts and He won’t be offended. He won’t cast us off or write us off. He’ll listen to us rant and rave and He will still love us just the same at the end. It’s a comforting thought really.
4. Pray for Hope
Sometimes in the midst of our pain, we can’t see how things could possibly ever be better. While mentally we might know that unless we die today things are bound to get better at some point, for our hearts, it’s hard to hold on to hope when we feel overwhelmed by grief.
Pray that God would give you hope. You might not even know what that looks like, but you can pray for it none the less. God may surprise you. It might be little things like a good meal with a friend, a joke that makes you laugh, or a smile from a stranger. It might be bigger things, like an opportunity you couldn’t have imagined.
These things, these glimpses of hope, remind us that what has happened is not the end of our story. We can still smile. We can still laugh. Life will get better. Things will change. While the sorrow may last for the night (or many nights), joy will come in the morning (or several mornings from now). Pray that God would continue to give you reminders of this.
5. Continue to Ask What He’s Trying to Teach You
After my first break up, I was a wreck. I had a “work mom” at my job who was a great Christian lady and was always checking in with me. I had a cry fest with her one day at work. As I’m blubbering on, she gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
She told me, “Just keep praying over and over again that God would show you what He wants you to learn from this. He always has something to teach us, even in the worst circumstances.” So I did.
Did I get any great revelations or visions? No, not really. There was never a big “Aha!” moment where I figured out why all this had happened. Instead, I gradually started to understand that, among other things, God was trying to see if I would still trust Him if He took away something I knew was a gift. I didn’t want to trust Him necessarily, but I knew I needed to. Over the weeks and months I learned to trust, even when everything was wrong.
I don’t know if that will be your lesson, but whether you need to learn unconditional trust or something else, God will use every situation to teach you something about yourself for something about Himself. You just have to ask and seek for it.
So whether 2017 or 2018 are your years or not, take heart my friend. We are in God’s hands and He knows what He’s doing, whether it feels that way or not.