If I had to guess how God uses disappointment to teach us, I would guess based on my experience as a parent. People always seem to say that it’s harder to watch their children suffer than to suffer themselves. I believe them. As a mom, I often wish I could take away the sting of disappointment that I see hurting my children, but I’ve learned also that disappointments can be blessings in disguise.
There were times when a goal seemed harder to accomplish than I thought it would be. The road was paved with frustration, testing my limited patience. When I eventually succeeded, I was better off for having had my desire and determination fired in the kiln. I appreciated what I got all the more, and I was less likely to take it for granted.
Other goals didn’t come my way ever, or haven’t yet. Different things came unexpectedly in their place. There were the unusual and eye-opening experiences that I wouldn’t have known had my path gone as I wanted. There were the quirky but wonderful people who taught me something valuable while I was stuck in some place or phase in my life. There have even been moments when I could actually see that I had grown as a person while I thought I was idling away, stagnating.
Was God stalling me to give me time to rethink what I wanted? Was He saving me from myself, as a parent often does for a child?
Was God gently presenting me with other goals and tasks that He wanted me to accomplish instead?
While I was busy working and praying for the things I wanted, was God busy giving me the things I needed first or needed more? And when God is done doing what He needs to do with me, if He gives me what I wanted at one distant point in my life, will I still want it or need it?
I think God wants me to set goals and to work hard. I think God wants me to pray. But I also think God wants me to trust Him to use disappointment as a tool to teach me. I’ve made enough mistakes to know that His plans work out far better than any of mine. I’ve witnessed God’s generosity enough to know that He always gives us more than we ask for.
So I’ll let the selecting be done in heaven. And I’ll pray for the grace to take life as it comes.
© Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2015. Photograph by Writing Wahine, 2015.