It’s easy to allow discouragement to morph into disillusionment and for disillusionment to taint our heart, distancing us from God and blinding us to His hand. But, as my guest today shares, if we’re alert and prayerful, if we’re diligent to hold tight to truth and Christ, disillusionment can also lead to incredible growth and can provide a glorious redirection.
I Didn’t Think it Would be Like This.
By Donna Jones
We never saw it coming. I expected this kind of behavior from a non-believer, but from a Christian?
The gap between my expectations and my reality left my tender soul shredded into tiny little pieces, like the bits of paper you throw as confetti. Except this was no celebration. I wondered how a heart ripped to shreds could ever be whole again.
Enter disillusionment; the place where expectations and reality collide.
I remember thinking, How did this happen? Why did this happen?
I’ve heard the same sentiment echoed a thousand times by women in different circumstances: The wife whose husband walked out the door; the couple that followed God’s leading, only to be hurt by those they tried to help; the gal who battled health and financial crisis; the woman who stepped out in faith, and failed. And then there’s the mom of the toddler, the mom of the teenager, the mom of the prodigal, and the sweet gal who just wants to be a mom.
They all wrestle with the thought: I didn’t think it would be like this.
But it is.
So, what now?
Generally, disillusionment doesn’t happen overnight (although it can). Typically, disillusionment starts as disappointment, which leads to discouragement, which morphs into discontentment, which lands as disillusionment. Think of it like this:
Disappointment + Time = Discouragement
Discouragement + Time = Discontentment
Discontentment + Time = Disillusionment
How do you know if you’ve moved from disappointment to disillusionment?
You’ve lost hope.
You’ve checked out.
You’re desperate to control.
You’re mad at God.
You’re suspicious of others.
You’ve given up on your faith, yourself, or God.
May I whisper just a few words of hope to you? You. Are. Not. The. First.
In the Bible, the prophet Elijah dealt with disillusionment. So did Sarah, the matriarch to the Jewish nation revealed in Genesis, and Job, the ancient man whose intense suffering is revealed in the Bible book bearing His name. At some point, most of us travel through the dark tunnel of disillusionment.
So how can we handle disappointment so it doesn’t morph into disillusionment, and derail us?
- Acknowledge Loss
It’s OK to feel sad when things don’t turn out like we hoped. Part of navigating disappointment before it becomes disillusionment is to acknowledge our loss.
During difficult seasons David, ancient Israel’s second king, poured out his heart to God. “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8 NIV).
1 Peter 5:7 tell us to “cast all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.”
When we pour out our problems to God, God pours in His perspective to us.
- Examine Expectations
Disillusionment occurs when we feel something is not as good as we believed it to be. These beliefs are based on expectations.
Unexamined expectations are likely to be unrealistic expectations, and unrealistic expectations are likely to become unrealized expectations.
Unrealized expectations leave us disappointed, discouraged, discontent, and disillusioned.
When an expectation isn’t realistic, it’s easy to become disillusioned, so we must ask, “Is my expectation realistic?”
- Cling to Christ
When disappointment leaves us reeling, we have two choices: Run to God, or run from God. One choice brings closeness and comfort; the other choice brings distance and disillusionment.
Is it always easy to rely on God while enduring difficulty? No, it isn’t.
Joseph, the ancient Hebrew turned Egyptian slave, experienced this first hand, after his brothers’ betrayed him. Because Joseph clung to God through the heartache and hurt, he could look his brothers square in the eye and declare, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20 NIV)
How do you handle disappointment from unmet expectations? What lessons have you learned by choosing to rely on God, even when it’s hard?
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)
Get to know Donna!
A pastor’s wife and national speaker, Donna Jones is a Bible teacher/explainer, who’s spoken in twenty-five states and on four continents, keynoting events of more than 1000. Donna is the author Seek: A Woman’s Guide to Meeting God, Raising Kids with Good Manners, and Taming Your Family Zoo, and is a contributing author to the 365-day devotional, A Moment to Breathe. She has been on numerous radio and television shows, including Focus on the Family and Good Day Dallas, and writes regularly for Crosswalk.com.
Donna loves sipping a really good cup of coffee, and hanging with her pastor/hubby or one of their three young adult kids, who frequently sit on her kitchen counter just to chat. Donna would love to connect with you at www.donnajones.org or on Instagram at donnaajones.
Disillusionment hurts and can derail us or push us to draw us closer to Jesus. For those of you who’ve been doing our Becoming His Princess study, you’ll see, for Sarah, unmet longing appeared to follow the negative progression Donna warns us of in her post. As Donna shared, we all face this risk. When disillusionment hits, it can drive us closer to Jesus or distance us from Him. You can hear my thoughts on this, and how we can actively guard our hearts against this, in Becoming His Princess’s opening session, week three. Listen HERE.
If you’re just starting the study, you can watch week one’s opening session HERE and week two’s opening session HERE. (Video sessions will be uploaded as they’re completed.)
You can listen to session two HERE.
And you can pick up your own copy, free, HERE.
If you live local, you can still join us for live teaching each Tuesday night at Wildewood Christian, located in Papillion. You can also join us, starting in March, for live teaching on Tuesday mornings or evenings (two options) at Christ Community Church in Omaha. (Registration links will open soon.)
Want us to come to your church? Contact us HERE.