To some degree it’s the lot of man: As our mothers told us, we can’t expect things to go our way all the time. Small disappointments, as we learn after surviving a lot of them, make us stronger. The other kind, that damp, persistent fog, just make us cranky and querulous. How could life become such a slog? Whom can we blame for letting us down? Why so downcast, O my soul? (Psalm 42:5).
Some philosophers, like the Stoics, recognized this a long time ago: Life disappoints; therefore, don’t expect much. Certain passages in Ecclesiastes seem to echo that sentiment: What is ambition, but striving after wind?
But elsewhere in Scripture we catch another vision: of a sky full of angels praising God in the highest; of infinite glory wrapped in swaddling cloth; of a blazing, resurrected body striding out of a tomb. That story, and every story since, suggests to us that we are made for celebration, joy, and awe. The glitter and anticipation that attaches itself to Christmas hint that we’re not wrong to expect these things. But the letdown after Christmas is also a clue that we’re looking for them in the wrong place. Searching for fulfillment, satisfaction, or purpose anywhere but in God Himself is the definition of idolatry.
The first step in dealing with long-term disappointment is identifying your idols. Marie Claire is right about this: The idea that “motherhood should be your primary identity above all others” is false. Motherhood is many good things, but “primary identity” it is not, nor was ever meant to be. Such idols are everywhere, and the most excellent are also the most deceptive: sound health, happy marriage, fulfilling career, godly family life. If our failure to achieve them (or someone else’s failure to cooperate) results in settled disappointment, chances are we’ve allowed our worthy goals to steal our satisfaction in Christ alone.
That leads to step two: Behold your God! He shouldered a life of highs and lows, of heady triumphs and crushing betrayal, but never took His eyes off His Father. This was so you might never take your eyes off Him. He will surprise you, challenge you, test you, delight you—This is my life now! It is secured with Him, and it matters thrillingly; go with Him and you will not be disappointed.