Last night was like a flashback to days of old (before Recovery). I had some extremely unrealistic expectations. Tonight i was looking forward to a friend’s Birthday Celebration. What I wanted to happen and what i suspected might happen were in mortal combat. Reality bites. Like an allergic reaction, resentment began to swell, and the pain was intense. What began as an irritated thought, resulted in an attitude of entitlement. My tendency would be to fight for my rights, but I gave up. Giving up is not surrender. It is definitely not “letting go and let God”. It is more like scratching an itch until it bleeds. What’s left is a scar, a reminder, not of the healing, but of the choice not to utilize the balm of grace available to me at all times. The night ended “unresolved.” I hate that!
The timing of this incident comes as I am smack in the middle of Principle 6 in my Celebrate Recovery program – “Evaluate all my relationships, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, without expecting any reward.” There it is “expectation”. I’ve noticed how easy it is for me to genuinely forgive a debt when it is incurred by a new relationship. I easily make amends because I have not yet developed any expectations. The deeply troubling “histamine” of familiarity is quite another matter.
Carol Kent, in her excellent book Secret Longings of the Heart is quick to point out that our human expectations have their origin in being made in the image of God prior to the “fall” of mankind. So while I may still have the expectations for the righteous course of deeper relationships like community, marriage and family, in a fallen world, disappointment is eminent. Disappointed expectations sets up a longing for change. My Program tells me I have no power to change anyone but myself! Without my Higher Power (Jesus Christ) I am powerless to even do that!
God has given me free choice as to how I will respond to the disappointment. One choice is to default to my old ways, utilizing my carefully crafted character defects of excusing, justifying or blaming. Fortunately through recovery, I recognize this as “insanity”. If I do not run my disappointed expectation through the “grid” of God’s will, I will continue to allow the pain of the past to rule, allowing circumstances to determine my choices for today and thus, sabotage the hope of future serenity. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things (and people) I can not change, the courage to change the things I can (my attitude and actions) and the wisdom to know the difference…taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You in the next.” That is what I am choosing today.
How do you handle disappointment?