There are things in life we all have to deal with. Hurt, disappointment, betrayal, unfairness. Probably disappointment is the most difficult because usually there's no possible control over the factors that disappoint us. If we're hurt, we can hurt back or heal. If we're betrayed we can seek revenge or move on. If we're treated unfairly we can seek legal redress... or not.
But disappointment frequently rests on the actions of others or acts of God or events that are beyond our control. How we react to disappointment says a lot about us.
Last week, my grandchildren, a friend and I had a special "girls day out" planned. And then my friend woke up with a vicious stomach bug. As much as she wanted to go, it was clearly impossible. Well, what's so extraordinary about that, you say? I'll tell you: it was the very grown up way my granddaughters reacted to the postponement of their day out.
Both of them immediately talked to my friend on the phone, assuring her that her health was far more important than our proposed plans. And then they found something to keep themselves quietly occupied the rest of the afternoon. Not a word was said about the plans. I thought they demonstrated extraordinary grace for a five-year-old and an eleven-year-old. I was incredibly proud of them.
Too often I've watched adults have temper tantrums when disappointments come their way. No, I'm not talking about genuinely unfair or illegal treatment. I'm talking about things like someone showing up late for an event. Or having plans not quite work out. Or realizing that the store doesn't have the dress or coat in your size.
Disappointment is temporary. If we faced life's disappointments with grace and a willingness to seek an alternative, life would be much easier both for us and those around us. That doesn't mean we have to turn into a doormat. But it does mean we can act with dignity.
Sometimes, it isn't only adults who teach the lessons.