Scripture reflection: Philippians 4:8
If you’ve ever tried to get pregnant, odds are you’ve experienced disappointment at least once. Your body feels different one month and you’re thinking, this could be it, only to be disappointed a day or two later. Actually, if you’ve ever wanted anything in your life, odds are you’ve experienced disappointment one way or another, at least once. Sometimes twice. And then there are those of us, the lucky ones, who experience it more times than we care to remember.
I had an experience like this not too long ago. After being disappointed so many times, you get a little glum. Last week, I wrote about what the word hope has meant to me through this journey, but even with that kind of mentality one can’t help but feel sad every now and then. One can’t help but be human. Faith and hope makes one resilient against sadness; it doesn’t make one immune.
That evening, I was not immune. My husband sat watching TV in the living room, waiting for me to get started with a movie. I decided that I would spare him the bad news, or at least delay it. I thought we might have been pregnant, but we’re not. Not this month. Again. I dragged my feet upstairs, bottling up my emotions tight inside my fists until I was able to escape into our bedroom to cry. I stood in front of the mirror and told myself, Okay, you can admit it. This sucks. This blows. There’s no way around it. Just say it out loud and let yourself be upset. Get it out of your system and get back to your life.
After a few moments, I trudged back downstairs. My husband was still sitting on the couch, completely oblivious to my little meltdown. I grabbed a bag of popcorn and dejectedly stuffed my face while I sat next to him, my head on his shoulders. Then suddenly, he started laughing.
“What are you looking at?” I asked. He was flipping through old photos from our past vacations and family trips. Pictures from Disneyland with our nephews from two years ago, when they were still chubby-cheeked and cuddly. Pictures from Seaside where we spent our 4th wedding anniversary, standing in shearling boots on the beach, looking windblown and cold. Pictures from Maui where we took a long-awaited vacation with our nieces and my brother-in-law, all of us sunburnt and gorging on shaved ice cones that were the size of our heads. And then there were the pictures from our wonderful little life; the day we moved into our first home together; the spontaneous hikes up Mt. Rainier; the failed attempts at puppy dog ownership; even the random and rare selfie taken in the car on some nondescript trip to the mall.
And then he said, “We have fun, lovey. We have a beautiful life.”
It’s amazing how quickly I forget the beauty of life when dealing with disappointment. My mind has a tendency to run on a single track, speeding towards the next station, gunning for the latest wish or desire. And when that desire is unmet, how rapidly and violently that train gets derailed, tumbling out of control. The longer that desire remains unmet, the more it starts to consume me. All I see is the thing that I don’t have. Everything else is ignored, forgotten, or left behind, like the unappreciated scenery whizzing past a speeding train.
That evening, my husband reminded me in his simple, unassuming way that our disappointments do not and should not overpower all the blessings that surround us in life. God is constantly blessing us, making our lives beautiful in ways we can’t even perceive or comprehend. The only thing we need to do to avail ourselves of this never-ending supply of beauty is to show up; eyes wide, hearts open, expectant and in search of God’s blessings in our past, present, and future.
Now the next time I get disappointed, which I’m sure will come whether it’s this or something else, I’ll probably do the same thing I did that night. I’ll probably stand in front of the mirror and cry, and because I am human, I’ll probably have the same conversation with myself.
Okay, you can admit it. This sucks. This blows. There’s no way around it. Just say it out loud and let yourself be upset. Get it out of your system and get back to your life.
Wait. Except that last part. Because I don’t think the sadness is something I can just get out my system; I think it’s a part of the system. It’s a part of life, this beautiful life. All the joy, the sadness, the past, present, and future, everything adds up to this masterpiece of an existence. And the best part is that tomorrow, my life will be even more resplendent than it was yesterday. It will be more profound than it is today. I may feel low in this moment, but my life’s story is a masterpiece in the making. If it is to become this masterpiece, I can not allow myself to forget the beauty that God is creating in me, through me, and all around me.
So I’ll let myself feel upset, but only for a moment. Then I’ll say to the young woman in the mirror, Go ahead. Get back to your beautiful life. You only get one. Don’t miss it.