Here is a story that someone sent to me this week in my email. I think there is real wisdom in it for us.
A professor in a large university and an exchange student had an interesting discussion one day. The student asked a strange question to the professor. "Do you know how to catch wild pigs?" The professor thought it was a joke. "You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence.”
The exchange student went on. "They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again. You then slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity."
I’m not sure if that is a true story but it makes sense to me. One thing is for certain, it’s easier not to get into a trap than to get out of a trap. This article is for both groups of us.
Let’s address the subject of disappointment using the story above to illustrate what can happen to us when disappointed. We have all been disappointed from time to time. It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’ people, leaders, products, institutions, and the like will disappoint us. The gap between what we expected to happen and what really happened and the aftermath has been the ruin of many a poor man and woman.
If this is you, perhaps this article can jump start you in getting out of that trap. You’re not a pig. You are a person made in the image of God. What you’re upset about is not who you are.
Let me paraphrase what Jesus said about events and situations that create disappointment in our lives in Matthew 11 and 18. This is a life-changer. “It’s inevitable stumbling blocks will come in this life but blessed are they who are not overcome by what I am doing in their life in the midst of navigating the rough emotional seas of the stumbling blocks.” In other words, in this life, poop happens. God wants these stumbling blocks to make us, not break us, sending us into the endless abyss of victimization.
Pastor Alan Pateman says, “It is all too easy to give into the ‘feelings’ of disappointment, mainly where other people or people in leadership are involved. I have learned to get over disappointment as quickly as possible; the alternative is for un-forgiveness to set in which only taints our inner focus, rendering us unavailable to be used by God any longer.” I would add disappointment can impair our ability to normally function mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in all areas of life. The longer we carry the weight of disappointment, the heavier it becomes, and the more we become trapped like those wild pigs.
Disappointment, embraced over time, can turn into dissatisfaction, displeasure, distress, discontentment, disenchantment, disillusionment, disenfranchisement or frustration and then, eventual regret. The fruit of disappointment is free, but it costs us everything. The only person that gets hurt is us. Get the message?
Here’s some wisdom. Get a true and spiritually accurate picture of disappointment. Disappointment happens. Not everything is perfect. It’s not the disappointment that hurts us, it’s our reaction of the disappointment. An offense is an event, being offended is a choice. When we are offended, we handcuff ourselves to the offender and take them wherever we go.
The beauty of the gospel is that it takes everything that is wrong with us, everything wrong we have done and that has been done to us and turns it around by grace of God. In other words, forgive the party who offended you, causing you pain. Conversely, forgive yourself for allowing yourself to react to this offense in a way that captured you. Let the grace of God apply to them and you bring a reset to your life. There’s no future when living in the past.
Exercising our God-given right to forgive is a wise choice. When you make the choice forgive, God gives you the power and ability to get past the offender and your own issues too. When you get better, it gets better, because God’s way is better. It’s much better outside of the pig pen.
Ed Delph July 22, 2019 CCC