Disappointment

(Thoughts from Friday, October 7, 2011.)

I'm not a very emotional person. If anything, sometimes I feel guilty because I don't have the same strong reaction to negative occurrences as many in the same (or similar) situations. While others can be devastated by an event, I can seem emotionally oblivious. This works out well in stressful work situations, but can appear odd in personal ones. It can look like I don't care (or at least care enough). Pragmatism doesn't communicate concern.

Now, that doesn't mean I never cry or that I am stoic, but as a whole things can be pretty bad and day-to-day I can "suck it up" (or at least keep my mind off it). There are a couple areas where I can't quite turn off my emotions…and one of them is disappointment. I suspect even there my reactions are muted compared to the average population, but when my expectations aren't met I can get disappointed…and that disappointment can lead to depression. Nothing terrible…but it can sap all ambition for a period of time.

How about you? Are you someone who has huge peaks and valleys in your emotions, cycling from feeling on top of the world to the deepest, darkest doldrums…or are you the epitome of level-headed? Do you get disappointed easily, or are you jaded enough by life's experiences that you really never expect anything to work out, so when it doesn't, you take it in stride?

Although I really don't expect anything great to work out (beyond Jesus' return), where disappointment can really lasso me is when I am anticipating something pretty positive and it unexpectedly disappears. If you buy a Powerball ticket you don't expect to actually cash-in big, but after someone tells you you have all the winning numbers it would be a bit harder to accept the losing outcome, wouldn't it?

That is where I am right now. (No, I wan't told I had the winning numbers for a lottery…that's just an analogy.) Suddenly last week, a company showed great interest in potentially hiring me, and was in a huge rush to fly me out to meet with everyone at the headquarters. So, instead of me heading home today (as planned) from some other travel, they immediately booked an itinerary that brought me to San Francisco instead.

I woke up this morning, and even though I was dog-tired (because I only got about five and a half hours sleep) I was looking forward to a day of chatting with various people (and the possibility that it will turn into a lucrative position). After a day of meetings I'd spend the rest of this weekend checking out the "City by the Bay," and then head home on Monday to report everything back to the family.

About 10AM I headed for the elevator, checking my e-mail as I walked. Their president sent me a note asking if he could meet me in the hotel's lobby before I went to their offices. That's was a bit odd, but it's not unprecedented that someone would want to lay groundwork before a day like this. I headed back to my room…waited a bit…and went down to the lobby.

I'm assuming at this point you see where this is going. 🙂

The president walked through the door, we shook hands, he sat down and said something to the effect it is weird situation…but last night they decided to offer someone else the position I was interviewing for.

Well, that was unexpected. Maybe not 100%, but what do you say when you've flown halfway across the country, lost a bunch of sleep, and planned on sacrificing a weekend with your family…and just before your whole reason for being there begins you get a Roseanne Roseannadanna, "Never mind"?

Well, as someone who understands business I told the guy it was no problem…since, in reality, it is "just business." Spending many years working for an enterprise where enough bad situations arose that I learned to keep a "game face" on meant that, at least sitting there in front of him, it was easy to say not to worry about it.

Not so easy, however, after heading back up to the hotel room. I tried to call my wife…voice mail. So, it was going to be just me and my thoughts. I was disappointed. I am disappointed. I was depressed. I am depressed. Not severely…but it definitely doesn't help that I didn't get enough shut-eye last night.

Right from the start, alone with my thoughts, this biblical passage came to mind:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).

Those words were written by someone who had far more reason than I to be disappointed or depressed. He was in jail and people were preaching "Christ from envy and rivalry…thinking to afflict [him] in [his] imprisonment (Philippians 1:15,17), yet Paul doesn't whine about it. He had a secret…one he was willing to share with us…which is that we can handle everything "through him who strengthens" us.

The corollary to that statement is that no matter how good or bad things in life are, we should be doing everything "through" Christ. Everything.

As for me, even knowing that I have to admit I'm still a bit disappointed and depressed. However, foreseeing the dispiriting news I was going to get this morning, God made sure earlier today I also got a text message saying that a good friend, who had every reason to believe he was going to get laid off yesterday, wasn't (and won't be). For me, this was just an opportunity that came and went like the wind. For him, it was the potential of being out of work for a long time, losing his house, and so on. I think in the big picture his good news outweighs my bad news many times over.

Maybe that's the secret Paul had that allowed him to be content. He knew that no matter how terrible life is here, there is always good news that outweighs it. Perhaps the greatest is that Jesus is coming back to wipe away all our tears.


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