One of the most difficult things I have discovered in my 26 years is how to learn from disappointments that occur in my life. A few years ago a good friend told me, “Meagan, I know this hurt you, but tell me what you learned from it. Make a list and share it with me.” This particular instance was pretty painful, so my initial reaction was not to think about what the experience taught me. Instead, I just felt profound sadness that the situation had not ended up the way I thought it would. I didn’t want to think about the good that might come from it.
As I become older, I have started to learn that within disappointment there are lessons to be learned. Believe me, this isn’t a conclusion I came up with overnight. It has taken me awhile to realize this, and many times I forget to look for the good and go straight to how awful the disappointment made me feel. I am trying, though, to consider when something doesn’t turn out as I wished it would, what did I learn about myself from this? Did I react in a way I shouldn’t have? Is this something I can work on?
I also think about what God is teaching me through various occurrences in my life. This point goes back to an earlier post where I mentioned my tendency to focus on one situation at a time, but God always sees the big picture. So, while something might be disappointing to me now, later on down the road, I might understand why it didn’t work out. I can see that God was always working in my life, even if the outcome of a situation was different than I hoped. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my all-time favorite Bible verses. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Through my disappointments, I must remember that God does have a plan, and He loves me. I must always trust Him, especially when I don’t understand the plan. He has my best interests at heart and wants me to “prosper,” as the verse says.
When reflecting on past disappointment, I see one of the ways that God has helped me through these tough times is to bring wonderful people into my life. I can think of countless times in undergrad, grad school, moving to a new place where I didn’t know anyone, etc., when I felt lonely and friendless. EVERY SINGLE TIME, God brought a friend into my life to help me through it. Every time. I am also blessed to have an amazing and supportive family that has always been there for me. Through these difficult seasons, God has given me the gift of awesome people who have had and continue to have lasting impacts on my life.
One way I have been able to see disappointment in a new light is to change my perspective. Considering situations from different angles may bring up other issues I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. Talking to my family and friends about situations I am going through helps me gain these new perspectives. While listening to other individuals’ thoughts on a subject, I am able to consider certain aspects of a situation I may have overlooked.
The next time disappointment gets you down, take a minute to think about what you learned from the situation. Reflect on how the experience can help you move forward and become the person God created you to be.