Cancel that Appointment with Disappointment
By Ed Delph
September 18, 2023
Here is a story that someone sent to me this week in my email. I think there is some real wisdom in it for us.
A professor at 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 where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they 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 on the last side. The pigs, now 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 lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence but then realize 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 unsure if that is a true story, but it makes sense to me. And one thing is sure: it is easier not to get into a trap than to get out of it once you are in it.
I want to address the trap of disappointment in this article. We have all been disappointed from time to time. Jesus said that this would happen. In Matthew 11 and 18, he said that stumbling blocks will inevitably come in this life. It is not a matter of if but when people, leaders, products, institutions, and many other things will disappoint us.
Pastor Alan Pateman notes that 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 unforgiveness to set in, which only taints our inner focus (spiritual sight), rendering us unavailable to be used by God any longer." That is a good thought.
Like those wild pigs in the story above, the longer one stays in a trap of disappointment, the more they become permanently entangled in disappointment. Over a period of time, mentally grasping the vampire of disappointment can turn into dissatisfaction, displeasure, distress, discontent, disenchantment, disillusionment, frustration, or regret. Get the message?
Another interesting fact about disappointment is that disappointment is free. You don't need to pay anything to get it, but it can cost you everything afterward. And, beware, if not checked, disappointment picks up momentum as it goes along. Disappointment creates more disappointment.
Here's a great perspective from Jim Clear about what and how to think after disappointment happens. Remember, it's not what you think you are. It's what you think, you are.
“When you believe, 'Even if I stay single, I'll still have a great life,' you are in a much better position to enter a relationship. When you believe, "Even if I don't get into this school, I'll still have a great life," you are in a much better position to apply yourself. When you believe, "Even if I don't succeed with this business, I'll still have a great life," you are in a much better position to try again.
"Sure, you may want the relationship to work or the business to succeed - and you should give it your best effort - but also realize that if it doesn't work out, you'll be fine. There are many ways to live a great life."
My advice is to stop eating the corn of disappointment while you slowly lose your emotional freedom to fallen emotions. Cancel that appointment with disappointment. Get on with life and be that overcomer we discussed last week in my article. In other words, when disappointment comes, could you not go with it?
Your decision to get free from disappointment and God’s power to renew your mind to do that are more than enough to overcome even deep-seated disappointment.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com