Today was supposed to be the day when we brought our Davy girl home.
It was supposed to be a day permeated with joy, relief and “new parent” nervous excitement. You know, the emotions that come from asking the questions: What did we get ourselves into? How come Davy doesn’t come with a handbook? And, they actually let us take her home…what were they thinking?!?
However, today didn’t turn out that way and we were left reeling in disappointment.
Davy girl has been struggling the last few days. Ever since we roomed in, she hasn’t been herself. She stopped sleeping well, started becoming more irritable and has had vomiting spells that wear her little body out. At this point, we’re not 100% sure where the root of the issue is coming from and our medical team is keeping eyes on her to see if they can figure something out.
Dealing with Disappointment
Our emotions faltered today as we dishearteningly made the decision with the medical team this afternoon to keep Davy in the NICU. Flooded with frustration and sadness we were left with the question:
How do you deal with disappointment?
This isn’t a question only families in the NICU deal with, it’s a question that all of humanity – everyone wrapped in flesh with a pulse and soul – have to encounter throughout their temporal time on earth.
Your family, friend or spouse don’t come through for you as you expected. The dream job never materializes. A prayer goes unanswered. The list of disappointments continues endlessly.
As I processed the situation, it hit me that there are many ways to deal with disappointment and many of them are unhealthy. We can let the disappointment spiral into bitterness or anger. We can try to escape disappointment through any vice we choose. Yet, the issue with those options are that they don’t actually help us, they end up hurting us. Proverbs reminds us that bitterness rots the bones (Prov. 14:30) and any vice is a broken cistern that doesn’t provide us the joy that it falsely advertises it will bring (Jer. 2:13). These things might provide a temporary fix, but they are not a healthy long term solution.
This is the case because the only remedy for disappointment is to find solace in our Heavenly Father, not in our fickle emotions or faulty messiahs.
Dealing with Disappointment Biblically
As I scoured the Scriptures for encouragement I stumbled across the words of the man after God’s own heart – King David, the fallible warrior poet. David, was not a man who lacked emotion or fear of bringing them before his God. Penned in his emotively charged words are a blueprint for God’s people on how to deal with disappointment biblically.
1. Express Your Honest Emotions to God
David was no stranger to sharing his honest emotions. In Psalm 22 he questions God. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Ps. 22:1). In Psalm 31 he expounds upon his dire circumstances, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. (Ps. 31:9-10).
God, is a Heavenly Father who wants his kids to express their emotions to him. He desires to meet us in our real emotions, not our fabricated ones. By bringing our honest emotions to God we cultivate an environment where God can heal.
2. Remind Yourself of God’s Character
Repetitively in his poems and songs, David reminds his soul that his emotions are not immutable, but God’s character is. Throughout Psalm 31, even in the midst of anguish, he preaches to himself. He speaks of God being a refuge and strong fortress (v. 2), that He is a faithful God (v. 5), that time is in His hands (v.15), that He is abundant in goodness (v. 19) and steadfast in love (v.21).
We must consistently be tethering our wayward hearts to the truth of the Scriptures. We must remind ourselves that God is merciful, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Ex. 34:6). It’s in these truths where we will recenter our hearts affections on the One whose timing and purpose are different than ours, but are always perfect.
3. Worship God
Lastly, even though the last thing I WANT to do is worship God when my heart is weary, it is the very thing I OUGHT to do. The Davidic remnant left for God’s people are words of worship embodied in emotion, not devoid of them.
In worship we are able to bring our raw and unpolished selves before God, turn our eyes heavenward, cultivate a heart of thankfulness and gain eternal perspective.
Yes, we’re extremely disappointed and disheartened about not being able to take Davy girl home today. Today, I shed tears, said a few choice words under my breath, and momentarily allowed emotion to cloud my joyful countenance.
Although, once the aforementioned truth was reflected upon , I was reminded there is greater joy and purpose for our family by staying in the NICU. There are more days for Davy to get healthier and stronger. There are more moments to be light in a dark place. There are more relationships to be built and more people who haven’t heard the good news that I know.
The good news that our Savior, Jesus, tasted disappointment and was made like us in every way, so that he could create a path back to right relationship with God where our disappointments could be healed and given eternal purpose.
We’ll know more in coming days of our little girls health, but until then we will continue to worship the God who has tasted disappointment, conquered it and gives ours purpose.