I Didn’t See This One Coming

How do you know if a little part of you has become disillusioned? Could you tell if your husband is dealing with disillusionment? How about one of your kids?

This week I shared a blog post over at Wholly Loved about how disillusionment affects every one of us. And here’s a jaw-dropping reality: more of us deal with disillusionment than ever before, and we’re dealing with it at increasingly younger ages.

What if you, or someone you love, is dealing with disillusionment? How can you help?

If you’ve found your way here from Wholly Loved – welcome!–I’m sharing a few more insights on how to handle disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment here today.

A few weeks ago JP and I strolled the cliffs above the Pacific in Maui (gotta love those mileage rewards!) It was peaceful, calm, and serene–until a blaring alarm abruptly pierced the air, sending everyone on the walking trail into total confusion.

Why the siren? Was there an actual emergency? And if so, what where we supposed to do about it?

No one knew.

As it turns out, the blaring sound was a tsunami test alarm, which goes off on a regular schedule. JP and I breathed a sign of relief, allowed our pulse rate to slow, then looked at each other with wide-eyed realization: We had no idea how to handle an unforeseen tsunami.

What a natural tsunami is to the coast line, an emotional tsunami is to the soul.

Like the unanticipated siren, disappointment and discouragement take us by surprise–and they always disrupt our calm. If we don’t know what to do when they hit, we’ll end up devastated, depressed, despairing or defeated. Wouldn’t you think most of us would be prepared, and equipped, to handle our own–and our loved ones–emotional tsunamis? After all, disappointment and discouragement are part of life.

But an increasing number of us aren’t prepared, or equipped. At least not in a way that moves us from the spiritual danger zone to the spiritual safety zone.

So what exactly can we do to ensure disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment don’t devastate us?

The simple answer can be summed up in eight words:

I pour out and let God pour in.

Here’s what I mean:

I Pour Out

Most people–including Christians–keep difficult emotions bottled up. The Bible poetically describes human beings as jars of clay, or earthen vessels. But if our souls are like earthen vessels, picture what happens if we stuff hurt upon hurt, disappointment upon disappointment, and discouragement upon discouragement.

Eventually, we break.

I don’t have to convince you this is happening to too many of us, our kids, and our friends. You’re already aware.

How to Pour Out

1.  Talk Openly to Someone Who Cares

Let me whisper some truth and comfort into your sweet ear: It’s really ok to feel disappointed when things don’t turn out as planned.

The Bible even says so; “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12)

But it also tells us that difficulties like disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment are best processed with a person who will simply allow us to acknowledge our loss. (Romans 12:15) Find someone whose first response is not to fix your feelings, but love you in the midst of them. You may have to help the process by starting a conversation with something like, “Right now I want to tell you what happened, and how I feel about it. I don’t want you to fix me, I just want you to listen to me.”

But what if you aren’t the one who’s disappointed, discouraged or disillusioned–but your loved one, is?

The best way to help another deal with disappointment and discouragment, is to simply listen. Most of us could use a little improvement in this area. We’d much rather offer advice than offer a listening ear.

If you have any doubt about the necessity of listening, consider what the writer of the Proverbs wrote:

“To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.

The human spirit can endure in sickness,
    but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:13-14)

Listening helps lighten your loved ones load. It’s that simple.

Resist the temptation to jump too soon to fix the source of your loved one’s disappointment or discouragement (unless you’re the source!). Resist the temptation to fix your loved one.

God commands us to love one another. Love is spelled L. I. S. T. E. N.

2.  Talk Honestly to God

Most of us can grasp the first step: talking to others. But it’s this step–talking honestly to God–that truly transforms us. King David, who was called “a man after God’s own heart” wrote, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge”. (Psalm 62:8 NIV)

David knew a secret everyone should know: When an emotional tsunami comes crashing in, God is your refuge.

Even if you don’t have a safe person, God is your safe place.

David experienced this first hand. In a moment of humble authenticity here’s what he wrote:

“I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.” (Psalm 142:1-3)

So let me ask you a question (and be honest): When your spirit grows faint (like when you face disappointment, discouragement, or disillusionment) do you pour out your heart to God?

Do you know that you can?

I realize the idea of  pouring out your heart to God might be a new concept for some of you. It may even seem scary, or weird.  But please don’t miss this:

Much of the reason we don't feel close to God is that we keep God out of what is closest to us. Click To Tweet

Let God Pour In

Pouring out our burdens is only the first step in moving from the spiritual and emotional danger zone to the safety zone. We must also allow God to pour in.

We pour out our problems to God, so God can pour in His perspective to us.

But how?

Listen to God in the same way you want Him to listen to you.

Just as we long to be heard, God does, too. In fact, as healing as it is for us to talk to God, it’s ten times (100 times? 1000 times?) more healing to listen to God.

Why? Because our perspective can’t always be trusted, but God’s perspective always can. God’s perspective is truth. Truth sets us free.

Of course, this begs the question, “How do I listen to God?

1.  It’s really not rocket science; God speaks through the Bible

Have you ever wondered why the Bible is sometimes referred to as “God’s Word”? It’s because it is!

God’s words provide accurate direction and actual protection. And may I be frank? When we come face to face with a tsunami of negative emotions, we need direction and we need protection.

So, when your peaceful calm is abruptly disrupted by your own, or a loved one’s, disappointment, discouragement or disillusionment, turn to Psalm 142 to find hope and help. Then read Psalm 143, then 144, and 145.

Allow God to pour in the perspective you need.

2.  God Speaks Through His People

God always speaks through His Word. God often speaks through His people.

Knowing this, let down your defenses. Listen to godly wisdom. Seek the perspective of people who’ve traveled your path and come through victorious. Allow God’s people to pour into your life and watch the difference godly wisdom makes!

How you deal with disappointment determines how you come out on the other side. Click To Tweet

We don’t have to let disillusionment get the best of us. If you want more insight on the topic, hop on over to Whollyloved.com (click here for the link) and find out how normal folks find themselves knee-deep in disillusionment, and more info on what to do about it.

You are loved!



  1. Lisa Harper

    Such a timely message, and one that certainly hits home. Please pray for my sister, as she struggles daily with so much baggage, family issues, all while holding down a part time job and raising grandchildren. Throw in two adult family members living in the household who vehemently bring total chaos in her home. It’s deep, but God knows. Thank you for your ministry, Prayers, and Love to all. (Rhonda) is my sister and is 62. She takes care of everyone except herself. I pray she gets to rest one day.

    1. donnajones

      I paused and prayed for your sister as I read your comment. Thanks for reaching out with your comment. May God bless your whole family.

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