By Joe Rector

The definition of disappointment is “sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.” Not a single one of us has escaped disappointment’s presence in this life. It comes with lessons that we can learn, although some of those lessons are less than worthwhile. Still, we live with our disappointments and hope the future might shine a bit brighter.

As children, we are “wired.” Our assertions that our lives will be over unless Santa Claus brings a toy or game or outfit or car are, of course, overstated. Disappointment hits when a replacement toy is unwrapped. That game that was so important sold out, and our entire bodies sag with the knowledge that we’ll have to endure the same old moves in the tired, old video games that we’ve played for the last year. A teen who peeks outside a window to discover no car is parked there can be so downtrodden that his Christmas becomes a day of misery and pouting. Of course, the worst disappointment is discovering that the jolly old man in the red suit isn’t a real person at all. The mystique that surrounds Christmas is gone forever.

At some point in life, we all experience disappointments in friends. Most of the time, those we considered our BFFs let secrets that we’ve told them slip. Sometimes, those friends enter the portal and become friends with our sworn enemies. The worst betrayal by a friend comes when he steals a girlfriend. Oh, how low and disappointing such an action is to us.

Teenaged girls cause the most devastating disappointments. Most male teens are, for the most part, goofy. They are just learning how to deal with the opposite sex, and in the process, these young males will have scads of hilarious missteps. However, in their defense, these boys are sincere in their feelings for the girls. Before long, these males will learn that expressing their feelings leads to disappointment. How many boys are unceremoniously dumped by girlfriends? When girls are finished toying with boyfriends, they decide that the boys should be “just friends,” two words designed to crush and disappoint boys.

Adults too often discover that the jobs they have are disappointing. My daughter was successful in college. She loved the challenges and did her best to come out on top of them. She graduated with awards and accolades. A company scooped her up quickly. Not long after beginning her chosen career, she called home one evening and began expressing her disappointment and disillusionment with the work world. She even asked her mother if that was all there was to come from her hard work to become one of the best in her field of study. Her mother had to remind my daughter that she’d just learned a valuable lesson: people work, and they are rewarded with a paycheck. Her disappointment was palpable.

I taught for 30 years and loved the job most every day. However, as years passed and different leaders took on positions, teaching became more difficult. The students rarely were the problems; parents, policies, and kingdom-building were. Little by little, educating students became more difficult as testing became the most important facet of teaching. I was disappointed that leaders took away the teacher’s ability to teach materials in a certain way. If that teacher didn’t follow a blueprint for “correct educational methods,” he received poor evaluation scores, even though students and parents alike praised the individual for making positive impacts on teens.

Sometimes, writing is disappointing. I am the harshest critic of my writing. I want it to be well-written and easily understood. Sometimes, my fingers keep adding words to a simple idea. I’ve tried to remember to recite, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16, Verse 3). When those pieces don’t in some way add to readers’ lives, I am disappointed. No writing is good when it is too wordy, contrived, or factually wrong. My goal is to avoid any of these things. I hope that I do so more often than not. If not, then I’m disappointed, and I apologize.