There’s not one of us that will be spared from ever facing disappointments at some time in our lives. Some people’s disappointments may seem inconsequential to us, but when we are faced with our own they seem monumental. And I’m not talking about the death of a loved one, the loss of one’s physical abilities, or something else that really is monumental. Those I would call tragedies, not disappointments.
No, I’m talking about the things that we’ve looked forward to not working out like we had anticipated. The times when we’re hoping for an outcome that just doesn’t happen. Those things that just leave you feeling blue.
These are the things that we all, without exception, are going to face at some time in our lives. Even my two year old has had disappointments – that cookie he wasn’t allowed to have, the nap he had to take, the time we had to leave Grammy’s before he was ready to go.
But how we deal with disappointments says a lot about our character. This was glaringly brought to my attention recently during a 4 day getaway with my husband. It was our long-awaited anniversary trip and was going to be heavenly. 4 whole days of one-on-one time with the love of my life. Uninterrupted nights of sleeping without our two toddlers in our bed. Planning and goal-setting for the year ahead. Dreaming up the adventures I’d go on with this wonderful man.
But instead, I got sick.
I don’t mean just a little sniffle – no, this was something much more. It started as a niggling in my throat as I walked through downtown Seward with my husband. Then it turned into something much more serious. Uncontrollable shivers brought on by a high fever, several boxes of tissues, and so much pressure in my head I was sure it would explode.
Needless to say I wasn’t that great of company for my husband. He held me tight during the night as I struggled to get warm, made me tea, helped me get comfortable, and assured me that there was no where else he’d rather be than right next to me.
As I melted into a sobbing mess on the couch thinking of how this whole trip was ruined, he rubbed my back and told me it was ok. When I repeatedly apologized for not feeling like going out and exploring, he whispered that I should just rest. When my appetite was gone and I didn’t think I could eat, he gently coaxed me to try a little something.
He was my hero.
Part way through the worst part of my sickness, I had a revelation. I wasn’t the only one who was faced with this disappointment. My husband had also looked forward with great anticipation to our time away together. This trip was not going the way he had hoped either. Instead of a great and fun time with his wifey, he instead became a servant. He laid down his own hopes and faced the disappointment with the greatness of a champion.
So I decided that instead of crying the days away, I’d at least try. Try to deal with this disappointment like an adult and look to my husband for a good example of what that looked like. He was still smiling, still finding things to laugh about, and still reminding me that I was the one he wanted to be with – sick or not.
So I got my achy self off the couch and played our favorite game with him.
In between blowing my nose and sipping my tea, I tried to smile at him and tease him and tell him he is funny and that I love him.
There may be no more worse and yet fitting time to be sick than on one’s anniversary. On our getaway, without saying the words, Christopher reiterated his vow to love me “in sickness and in health”. He showed me that he truly meant that thing he said 4 years ago – “for better or for worse”. And he taught me a valuable message about dealing with disappointments.
And it reminded me of something my dad said often – “you can’t control what people do, you can only control your response to it.” I suppose that could be changed to something like “you can’t change that there are disappointments in life, but you can control your response to them”. Because it’s true.
We can sit in a puddle of tears and bemoan that this difficulty is happening to us. We can wallow in a swamp of self-pity like I was on my anniversary trip or we can “make lemonade” when life hands us lemons.
The realness of life is that it won’t always go perfectly.
There will be bumps along the way. There will be disappointments that seem to suck the breath from our bodies. But if we choose to look on the bright side, the disappointment seems less and the sun seems to be shining a little brighter.
Perhaps my husband revealed the true secret of dealing with disappointments – becoming a servant to someone during a time of disappointment is a great way to “make lemonade”.