Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Getting Used to Disappointment

Last week, I wrote about allowing my son to have adventures. The day that I posted, he was getting ready for a trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with the junior high group, which he is brand new to. He was so excited! As nervous as I was about the possibility of him getting lost, ending up on a much-scarier-than-expected ride, or not having a friend to hang out with, I was proud of him for wanting to go even though he didn't know anyone. He couldn't wait to ride his first big roller coaster and I couldn't wait to hear about how much fun he had. I had a feeling that this week's post would include a story about his day; I just didn't expect that story to be about learning to handle disappointment.

I should have known that something was wrong when we pulled into the parking lot and didn't see a group of kids and parents. We assumed they were in the room where junior high group meets, but when we walked in, we only found two girls waiting. Their mom walked in a few minutes after we did, looking confused.

"Where is everyone?" She pulled out her phone to call one of the other moms.

Ten minutes and three phone calls later, we found out that the trip had been canceled. Apparently it had been announced the night before at a meeting that Nate hadn't started attending yet and the other family missed, and on a parent e-mail that I had signed up for but never started receiving for some reason. We walked back to the car in shock.

I probably don't need to say that Nathan was deeply disappointed. He didn't burst into tears and have a fit over it, but the dejection was written all over his sweet face. He had been looking forward to the trip all week. I was devastated for him. But in all the sadness, I marveled over how maturely Nathan handled the let down. He moped around for a while, (Who wouldn't? My parents and wanted to mope, too.) told me repeatedly how sad he was, and declared Thursday a bad day, but he refused to get mad at those in charge, to the point of standing up for them when we expressed frustration. When his cousins came over to cheer him up, he had a good time with them.

Later in the day, a thought hit me, and I couldn't decide whether to feel good or sad about it: Nathan's reaction reminded me that he is a kid who has learned to handle disappointment because he has experienced a lot of it recently. Without spilling all the details, he has endured more loss, unwanted change, sadness, and disappointment than an 11-year-old should know about. He knows from experience that the most exciting plans can fall through at the last minute, that life doesn't always go our way, and that people let us down. As much as I wanted to weep over the knowledge that he learned so much of this by seeing it first-hand, it reminded me of the growth that comes from living through devastating days that we thought would end our world but didn't. At the same time, I prayed that he hadn't grown too used to disappointment, so much so that he would start to expect it.

I don't want him to think like I do sometimes, going around with a I'm really excited, so when is the whole thing going to fall apart? outlook on life.

Since his more-mature-than-some-adults response, I have been praying that God will reward it with a better-than-he-could-imagine surprise or experience--something to remind him that while life does include disappointments, it is also full of wonderful things.  

How well do you handle disappointment? How has experience shaped how you respond to it, or what you expect out of life?    

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Blogger Columba Lisa said...

Hello Jeanette! Thank you for your kind comment on Susanna's Apron. Yes, of course I remember our uplifting conversation at Mount Hermon. :)
I love this post, and can really relate. I dropped my second son off at camp recently, only to be called later that evening with the news that he couldn't stay due to type 1 diabetes being too great a risk. (There'd been a miscommunication.) This was the camp his brother has attended three times; he was so excited about it. Major disappointment.
However, I was able to drive him back and forth each day, and he loved his time there and learned many valuable lessons. So God worked it out.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Jeanette Hanscome said...

How sad for your son! I'm so glad he was still able to attend during the day and have fun. I think seeing our kids let down upsets us even more than it hurts them. But it is also encouraging to see them learn to deal with it.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

3:17 PM  

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