Something important that I don’t see dealt with enough in recovery groups is the issue of disappointment. It often leads people into addictive lifestyles and running from reality. Whether it is disappointment in ourselves, others or circumstances; how we deal with that disappointment is key. This is a trap I fell into several years ago that led to the destruction of my family as I knew it.
In the mid 90’s my husband, Bill, had an opportunity to partner with a start up company. It just so happened all the business partners were, like us at the time, professing Christians. We felt safe; believed they were men of integrity and could be trusted. Several months past, Bill had put in endless hours of work and invested thousands of dollars towards the new business goal. When out of the blue, the other partners gave Bill the boot for no reason at all, other than pure greed. This was devastating to our family. We thought these people were our friends. It sent my faith whirling… ‘How could God allow something like this to happen to us?’ I dwelt on the offense so much, that it got deep into my spirit and totally destroyed my faith in Christian people, the church and ultimately God.
This heart breaking disappointment along with other family life issues — my father’s death, a major move to a new city, life with three teenagers, demanding jobs– were all stresses that kept us walking further and further away from God. Until one day He was no where to be seen in our home. While trying to find desperately needed time together for dates; Bill and I got caught up in the Swinging Lifestyle. We began living for the weekends; for whatever party we would attend or give. Not only alcohol and cigarettes but drugs crept in, then the infidelity began. Over a period of seven years our kids witnessed their parents marriage self destruct before their very eyes. I became a full blown narcissist…living my life only for me and my addictions. I didn’t care anymore who it hurt or what I had to do to numb the unending pain in my heart. Then I found myself in jail for domestic assault of a family member (my husband).
Ultimately, we are all searching, deeply thirsting for one thing…a relationship with God. When we allow ourselves to put anything, even anyone in that place and expect them to fulfill that need, we are going to experience disappointment. The higher the expectation the deeper the disappointment. When was the last time you were deeply disappointed in someone? In yourself? In the outcome of a particular situation? In God? How did you react? How can keep ourselves from that downward spiral that leads only to destruction?
Larry Crabb’s book Inside Out speaks specifically to this. “When we learn to accept people who disappoint us by no longer requiring them to satisfy us, then we’re free to love them, to reach toward them for their sake without having to protect ourselves from feeling disappointed by their response to us.” This is what Christ taught about constantly. What’s seen all throughout the New Testament in the Apostle Paul’s writings. The love of Christ is to be shed abroad in our hearts.
Four years have past since that Summer in jail. God has graciously restored my marriage and our individual relationships with Him. It was hope that allowed my husband to believe that our marriage could be healed. It was hope I had that I could be free of the bondage of sexual addiction. It is still hope that gives us faith to believe our entire family will again be restored in Christ.
We need to acknowledge our disappointments, not run from them into denial. We can’t hide from them with forced love or cheap forgiveness; numbing the pain with drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, porn, etc… We should instead use these disappointments as a time of growth. We must reflect on our relationships and how others have let us down and allow this to drive us to hope. This is critical. For me that’s exactly how my downward spiral began, I lost all hope, in people then finally in God. We can’t allow ourselves to ever lose hope. For it is from the foundation of hope that true Faith is born.
There are three things that will endure–faith, hope, and love– and the greatest of these is love.— 1 Corinthians 13:13