Last week Katie attended her first art/jewelry conference and I tagged along for moral support. Everything didn’t go as well as she hoped for. She learned a lot, but she also experienced major disappointments. At one point she questioned why she came. I ached for her and felt powerless to help her.
Many times I have experienced the same type of situation and emotions. I could write chapters about my “failures”—the experiences where I did everything to the best of my ability only to be majorly disappointed by others or the results. I have also helped my other daughters through similar hard times—when they didn’t get the part, make the team, or get asked to the dance.
The reality that is rarely shared in motivational messages is that disappointments are inevitable. Disappointments and successes are woven together to make the fabric of our life experience. They are inseparable and one without the other cannot make the beautiful fabric of our lives.
Dealing with disappointments in life is hard. If not addressed immediately, disappointments quickly morph into discouragement and discouragement is the enemy’s most powerful weapon against God’s children. Discouragement makes us believe the lies:
- We’re no good.
- We’ll never succeed.
- We’ll be embarrassed and others will laugh at us.
This is why it’s so crucial for parents to be ready with truth to encourage their kids when they pursue their dream/calling/vision. (And parents need these truths for themselves too.)
After a few tears, Katie and I talked over the situation and I helped her see the reality—it wasn’t a mistake to come and it wasn’t a totally bad experience. We discussed the following points:
* She made the best decision she could at the time. She made the decision to attend the conference to the best of her ability with the information she had and at the recommendation of two professors she respected.
* We isolated the negative part from the positives. We discussed the negatives. None of these could be foreseen nor did she cause any of them. They were more upsetting than anything and have no effect on her work or future. They’re to be learned from then packed up, put in the trash, and not mulled over any longer.
* We examined the positives. With the negatives out of our way, we could clearly evaluate the positive aspects of her conference experience—excellent feedback from the judge on her portfolio and lots of helpful information and advice about pursuing her masters’ and then her career.
* It is what it is. I love the way this little motto ties up everything. Life is made up of good and seemingly not-so-good experiences. God uses everything for our good nor does He withhold any good thing from us (Romans 8:28-39; Psalm 84:11). This experience is not the end of the world, but it was a great learning experience—if we’ll let it be.
Disappointments will come. Count on them. Plan for them. But don’t let them take you off the path God has put in your heart.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.