The Art of Disappointment

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” ~ Isaiah 43:18-19

Just this week we received a letter from the seminary’s internship placement director, Dr. N. Dr. N is in charge of placing all second-year students in a church to serve for their third year of seminary. Last November, we had requested permission to defer our internship year to the fourth year instead of the third year. This letter officially announced that Toby had been awarded the deferment.

Thanks to God’s graciousness and according to Dr. N – my husband’s years of experience in ministry, the number of our children who attend school, and the fact that my husband has not “ticked off any professors” – we have the great fortune of staying here another year. I am so relieved to receive this news. And not just because I don’t feel like packing.

Before our interview last November, I had calculated how many schools Josiah would attend (if we followed the seminary’s traditional program). The answer is five. Five schools in six years. Maybe that’s no biggie for you. Maybe that’s your educational story, but I prayed it would not be his. And thank God, it’s not going to be.

crossroadsHowever, regardless of postponing our internship, change is still on the horizon. It won’t be a physical transition for us (yet), but everyone around us (besides a select few) will be leaving for their internships and we likely won’t see them again. New people will come. A few familiar fourth year families will return. But we are definitely at a crossroad.

Entire apartment buildings will empty this summer. For Toby, he will lose classmates, study partners, soccer buddies, friends, and accountability partners. Many of the little friends that my children play with will move away. Almost all of my preschoolers will be moving on. The neighborhood ladies I watch movies with, share yard space with, cry and laugh with, push kids in swings with, discuss Downton Abbey with, go shopping with, workout with– are leaving.

We stay. The others go. And before they even come back, we will be gone. And then begins a whole new adventure. It’s dizzying. It’s hard. But it’s the decision we made.

Last week, our pastor explained that for every choice we make, there is a consequence. For every decision we rule in the favor of one side, we disappoint on the other. And we need to learn the art of disappointment. Sound depressing? Not really. Healthy is more like it.

Take for instance this chapter of life Toby and I “chose.” Two years ago, we chose seminary over international campus ministry and a happy life in another place. We prayed about it, we turned it over and over in our heads. And we chose seminary. There wasn’t a right or wrong decision per se, but consequently, we had to greatly disappoint one side in favor of another.

what ifMy grandfather once said – Make your choice and move forward in it. Don’t second-guess yourself and don’t look back. Learning the art of disappointment means not dwelling on the consequences of a choice made in faith, not regretting, not asking the what-ifs. It means moving forward in your decision with faith, remembering that God is with you.

That doesn’t mean you won’t occasionally make a bad choice. It doesn’t mean your choices won’t sometimes bring you full-circle. It just means that with every choice, there will be some disappointment. But if you know that – if you are prepared for it – then you won’t be surprised it, and it won’t hold you back from the direction God is leading.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” ~ Romans 8:5-6


Filed under Homelife, Spiritual thoughts

6 responses to “The Art of Disappointment

  1. Darci

    We will be praying for your family! You speak such truth. Every seminary summer hurts. It’s so hard to watch dear friends leave. But thankfully fall brings in a whole new batch of wonderful families! And next summer you will find that leaving is strangely easier than being left behind. God is good.

  2. Alice Stroshine

    Thank you, Rachel, for another timely, thoughtful, well balanced, well articulated blog. Once again, I really feel like this will be especially meaningful for Jon. He just accepted his first US job in Youngstown, OH, (at a TV station), but he still has had to make a lot of decisions–where to live, who to room with, etc. (Trickier these days because of morality issues.) He’s a great one to second guess himself, (would he take after his mother?), but I’m sure your blog will be a blessing to him. It was to me–as always! Love and prayers, Alice

  3. Karina

    Hi Rachel,
    Thank you for this blog!!! I was part of your international playgroup in West Lafayette. We have moved several times because of my husband career; now we are trying to take a hard decision that implies moving again. Your words are so meaningful for us right now.

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