Turning Your Worst Nemesis into Your Greatest Ally
Turning Your Worst Nemesis into Your Greatest Ally
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch the familiar sight of his worn-out blue tennis-shoes. He kicks dirt my way and my stomach knots.
“Not again,” I whimper silently. “Can’t I get through a single recess without this mean kid ruining my day?”
“What’s the matter? Ya scared?” he bellows.
Gripped with fear, I don’t dare turn around. “Just act like you don’t hear him and maybe he’ll go away,” I try to convince myself. Just then, the end-of-recess school bell screeches over the loudspeaker, and I exhale at the welcome sound. Startled and emboldened, I turn on my heels to stare him straight in the face.
“You’re just a big ol’ bully, Timmy Marshall.”
And – at least for today – I make it through recess, unscathed.
Some seasons in life feel like one long recess, ruined by the school-yard bully of emotions: disappointment. One simple sentence can knock the wind right out of us – taking with it our hope.
“You didn’t get the job.”
“There’s nothing more we can do.”
“You can’t have children.”
“We just don’t have the money to make it to the end of the month.”
Disappointment is deflated hope. Behind every disappointment is an unmet expectation. The school-yard bully of emotions preys on our hope, paralyzing us with fear and intimidation. After a few tough rounds with disappointment last year, I realized I was facing each new day “guard up, hopes down.” I found myself rehearsing “what-ifs” and wondering where I’d gone wrong. And some days, wondering what was wrong with me. When people let us down or loss kicks dirt our way, we can give up and give into lies of the enemy.
Perhaps you can relate. Something doesn’t turn out at all like we had hoped, and we feel the sting of rejection and discouragement. Staring at an empty calendar or an uncertain future can cause us to question ourselves, others, and – gulp – even God. We know God has a plan for our lives; we just didn’t think it would look like this.
But what if? What if we stopped looking at disappointment as a bully and started seeing him as a trusted friend?
What if my worst nemesis became my greatest ally?
I began to reframe disappointment after some serious soul-searching and honest prayer. I also reached out to some friends who shared their insights. One response challenged the way I viewed the bully I had come to loathe.
“How you face your disappointments will shape your character for life. Accept that disappointments are a challenge and a fact of life. Use them to your advantage. Make them work for you.”
We can make disappointment work for us when we see that God is at work for us through every situation.
God’s Word gives us countless examples of people who wrestled with deflated hope and overcame by seeing disappointment as a trusted friend.
Disappointment becomes a trusted friend when we see it as a sign of God’s Instruction:
Disappointment “points” us to places we have misplaced expectations. God wants us to place our hope fully in Him. In Exodus 5, Moses expresses his frustration that despite his obedience, God’s people remained in slavery. Rather than looking at Pharaoh for deliverance, God wanted Moses to trust in Him. In the following chapters, God gives Moses clear instructions that change the course of Israel’s destiny. God listened to Moses, and He listens to us. Loss is real – and it hurts. In the safety of God’s presence, mourn your loss, release your expectations, and listen for His instruction.
Disappointment becomes a trusted friend when we see it as a sign of God’s Protection:
Disappointment “points” us to places God protected us from things that weren’t His will. We can unwittingly hope for something that God never intended for us. The slammed door that smacks of disappointment may be God’s providential protection. Throughout Paul’s missionary journeys, God closed doors not as a sign of rejection, but as a sign of protection. Begin to thank God for ways He protected you from things that could have hurt you far worse than the sting of disappointment.
Disappointment becomes a trusted friend when we see it as a sign of God’s Redirection:
Disappointment “points” us to places God wants us to move a different direction. When Ruth lost her husband, and moved to a foreign country with her bitter mother-in-law, she could never have imagined the blessing on the other side of brokenness. Rather than become stuck in the bitterness of disappointment, let’s choose to embrace redirection as a sign of God’s favor. Blessing lies on the other side of brokenness when we choose to trust God.
Disappointment is one of those “forever learning” topics because life will continue to throw its share of punches. But we don’t have to lose the battle with the school-yard bully of emotions. We can live “guard down, hopes up” when we see God at work in our lives through every situation. With God’s help, our worst nemesis can become our greatest ally.
If you want to “Make Your Life Matter No Matter What,” ask God to help you reframe disappointment and inflate your hope. Take your first step by asking Him these 3 questions:
Where have I placed my hope?
What are you trying to protect me from?
In what way do I need to trust you more to redirect my life?
“Ya scared?” Disappoinment bellows.
“Nah,” we answer with a grin. “God’s got me, and God’s got this.”
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What
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