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How to be Your Own Counselor When You're Disappointed

  • Carrie Dedrick
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  • 2017 May 18
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As I write this, I’m breathing hard, trying to keep my breakfast down. I’m battling what is commonly called morning sickness, though every-second-of-every-day sickness would be a more accurate term for what I’ve been experiencing. 

Pregnancy has not been what I expected at all. I thought I’d be glowing. I was sure that I would be gushing to others about how incredible it is to have a miracle growing inside me, and how I feel like I am fulfilling my purpose on this earth by bringing a new life into it. 

Instead, these last four months have been marked with unplanned doctor visits and days off work. I’ve cancelled plans with friends, and learned it is better not to make plans at all because I will feel too sick to enjoy anything we’d do anyway. 

I’ve caught myself complaining. A lot. This thing that I’ve always wanted hasn’t gone my way. I’m sick, sleep-deprived, and anxiously awaiting the day that this “joyous” time is over. 

Maybe you can relate. It might not be a difficult pregnancy. Maybe your once-perfect marriage has fallen apart at the seams. Or the job that you prayed for turn out to be a dead end. Or your children have walked out of your life. Or you can’t pay the bills this month. Or your battling addiction, or mental illness. The list is endless. 

Life is full of disappointments. 

But how do we handle it when things aren’t going like we hoped they would? In a guest post on Lysa TerKeurst’s blog, Jennifer Rothschild writes that we need to understand that how we talk to ourselves about our situations makes a difference. 

She says, “When things don’t work out like you hoped, and you just want somebody to hug you and reassure you that everything will be okay, it’s important to remember that sometimes that somebody has to be you. Sometimes we just need to be able to counsel ourselves. We need to become our own consolers… our own counselors!”

Rothschild suggests telling yourself the following things when nothing is going as planned: 

1. Tell yourself, “You won’t always feel this way.”

Nobody wants to wait to feel better. But it’s true that the pain of our circumstances will come to an end. There will come a day of healing, on this earth or in heaven

Rothschild writes, “Disappointment is a snapshot... It’s not the whole photo album of your life! Tomorrow is a new day; you will turn the page to new possibilities and new emotions.”

“Scripture assures us God makes all things beautiful in His time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He does… so hold on.”

2. Tell yourself, “It is what it is!”

We need to accept the lot that we have been given, so that we can move through it. Comparing our situation with another person’s life does us no favors. Instead, choose to find God in your situation. 

“Acceptance doesn’t mean you like or approve of the situation, it just means you are willing to live in the “what is” rather than pining away with the ‘what ifs,’” Rothschild says. 

“Scripture tells us that God is a present help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)... So, be present in the present, even if it is disappointing, because that is where God is – with you.”

3. Tell yourself, “Something new or better is around the corner.”

James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” 

From this Scripture, we take that our trials only make us stronger. One day, when this challenging period is behind us, we can look back and see the lessons we learned in our trials. Maybe God taught us to trust Him more deeply. Maybe we had experiences that we can share as our testimonies in later years. But ultimately, this time of heartache will work for our good (Romans 8:28).

Rothschild writes, “When we trust God, we don’t go backward. We only move forward with Him. So, what seems like a setback can really be the perfect position from which you can move forward in a new way.”

Friends, let’s learn together to speak truth to ourselves. And do not forget that no matter our situations, we have a Wonderful Counselor who would love to hear the cries of our hearts. Turn to Him when you feel let down by unmet expectations. 

If you need help getting started, I suggest saying this Prayer for a Disappointed Heart by Christina Fox. This prayer can be read in full at iBelieve.com.

Father in Heaven,

I come before you with a heart weighed down by disappointments. Life hasn’t turned out like I expected. I feel let down, like I’ve been failed in some way. I don't know what to do with these disappointments. Part of me wants to complain, part of me wants to give up in despair, and part of me wonders, Why do I even bother?...

Father, forgive me for complaining about my situation. Forgive me for wallowing in my self-pity. Forgive me for my discontentment. Yes, I know why life is disappointing and I should not be surprised. But what do I with those disappointments? How do I wake up every day knowing that life will not work the way it is supposed to and that a struggle or trial will appear at some time in my future?

Your Spirit prompts me… and I remember your Son. The Man of Sorrows. He knew the disappointments of this life. Your word says, "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3). He willingly entered this dark world, filled with brokenness, pain, sin, and sorrow. He took on the same weak flesh that I wear. He experienced everything I experience. Yet he did not sin. He did what I cannot do. He woke up every morning knowing that it was one day closer to the day he would give up his life for me and he willingly took those steps forward. For me. And then when the time had come, he took on all my sin at the cross, suffering the curse I deserved...

Help me Father to have an eternal perspective. Help me to see my disappointments in light of what Jesus purchased for me at the cross. Help me to seize those disappointments as opportunities to draw closer to you and not away from you. Help me to learn from them. Help them to shape me more and more into the image of your Son. Help me to see Jesus in them and to see his love and grace for me. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

 

Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap. Carrie and her husband Dustin are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first baby in October 2017.

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