I love getting comments on my posts from those who happen across my blog. Just recently a reader left a comment in response to an earlier post about how he does blame God for his singleness. Seeing as there may well be a lot of you out there who may overtly or covertly feel the same way, I thought that it might be a useful thing to talk about again.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. Psalm 31:9 (ESV)
All of us at one time or another throughout our lives have been horribly disappointed or monumentally let down. This does seem to be the nature of humanity: to at some time in our lives passionately hope for something only to be eventually disappointed. Perhaps it’s because of what we hope for, or how we express our hopes, or how persistently we cling to them against all odds that makes the disappoint in the end so intense. I am confident that we all have, or will, have this happen to us at some point in our lives.
Now, there are 2 basic responses to disappointment: 1). camping out at that point of disappointment and making the rest of your life about that issue, or 2). mourning the loss of that particular hope and then moving on.
Sometimes the intesity of the hope lost precludes ones ability to move on. You feel compelled to stay in that place of disappointment, circling it, staring at it, grieving it, wishing that it had worked out differently, creating worlds in your mind where it did work out differently. Mourning the loss of a hope or expectation is natural and, should I even say, healthy. I think a problem arises, though, when we refuse to let it go. When after a while the grieving becomes a habit that we are unwilling to give up, when we literally get STUCK in this place of disappointment and sacrifice our future to mourning this lost hope.
At that point it almost seems like we WANT to be stuck in our sorrow. That we want to warn all that pass of the vanity and futility of hope. Is this a ‘dog in a manger type response’ (eg. if I can’t have happiness neither can you) or do we really think that hope is dangerous and best avoided?
C.S. Lewis published a little book called A Grief Observed. In it are journal entries from the early days after he lost his wife to cancer. Now, as I understand it, Lewis never really wanted to get married but fell into it to help a young lady and her children. He fell in love with her though and was heart broken when she died. Imagine his grief–he was a happy confirmed bachelor who was ‘dragged’ into marriage, discovered an unexpected joy in it, then loses it again.
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I do not know. I sit firmly in the camp of those who have ‘never loved at all’ so I will have to let you read Lewis’ book, consider your own experience and come up with your own opinion on the matter.
I think that the important point to make here is that if you have been seriously disappointed in your life, being single when you dream of marriage, being alone when you dream of togetherness, being solo when all you want is a duo, remember this: if you stay stuck in the mire of your dead hopes things will never change. If you insist on camping out at that spot of disappointment, whatever you think of God, you will always be there, surrounded by your broken dreams and sorrows, and you will never fulfill any of your other potential. Unless you take courage and walk out the front door you will always be looking at the same four walls.
It does take courage to walk out that door, to move on. Especially if you’ve been stuck for some years. To move on means that you might be disappointed again, your hopes might be shattered again. But, then again you might find a promise fulfilled or joy in a different place than you expected. When you move on, instead of your lost hope being a weight around your neck, it can become an extra bit of character that gives you strength and courage and that will help you to stand strong–‘I went through pain and suffering but I made it through,’ or ‘it didn’t come to STAY, it came to PASS.’
We do not need to be stuck in our sorrow. We can choose to move on. And we will see things that we never expected and may even find joy in that which brought us the most sorrow.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.