Dreadfully Disappointed

My post the other day generated more than a few comments from people who know me personally.  Worry.  Potential offense.  I’m reminded that it’s impossible to control how someone else hears what you say, a lesson learned in homiletics and years in front of classrooms and now years in the pulpit.  Sometimes it works in your favor and sometimes it doesn’t.  Words are tricky things, as are ears and hearts.  I’m grateful for the concerned feedback, a reminder that as often as it feels as though I’m shouting into a void, these words are being heard in different places and different ears, some of them close at hand.

Dreadfully disappointed is a powerful phrase.  In a culture that demands a facile self-confidence, to express disappointment in oneself is less and less commonplace.  In our drive to replace genuine hope with vague, unmerited self-congratulatory honors, where everyone wins a prize even though every player knows darn well who actually won, our psychological radars go off when someone says something negative about themselves.

So while I have clarified my original post somewhat, the statement remains.  There are moments – not a continuity of existence but certainly moments – when I am dreadfully disappointed.  Dreadfully aware of how much more I could and should be.  Better son, better husband, better father, better pastor, better neighbor.  When I’m aware that such sentiments are probably what Martin Luther struggled with in some sense but I know I’m not a good enough linguist or theologian to employ the German word he used to describe it.

More shortcomings.

If only I had studied Latin.  And German.  And more Greek and Hebrew.  If only I read more non-stop, except for those non-stop moments of fulfilling all my other vocational hats.  To  be smarter, more eloquent, a better example…there are moments when the weight of those cumulative shortcomings hangs heavy and then passes.  I see that heaviness in others sometimes.  Something dull behind the eyes and in the tone of voice.  Sometimes we just need to acknowledge where we are and who we are.   Not necessarily so that others can talk us out of it, but so that others can stand with us.

There are moments when everything is just right – including myself.  When there is harmony and unity and things are easy.  There are moments of confidence.  But there are also moments of dreadful disappointment.  Of a desire to be more, and a wondering when such longings and disappointments will pass.

I know when they will.  A day of trumpets and clouds, a day of shouts and songs and cries.  A day when body and soul are reunited and when they are finally whole and one and perfect.  A day of deliverance, the final judgment and the final verdict before an eternity – finally – of peace I can’t even know how to desire properly now.  That’s what the Body of Christ encourages one another towards and with.  More than just slapping a smiley face sticker on someone, but simply acknowledging that this too shall one day pass.  By the grace of God and the Word that became flesh to understand my dreadful disappointment and bury it forever.

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