When Things Don’t Go as Planned

BY LESLIE SPEAS

How did you imagine your life? Has it turned out differently than you expected? I feel sure that, for pretty much all of us, life hasn’t been exactly as we planned it. Mine certainly hasn’t been. But I know that it’s not my plan that prevails; it’s God’s plan. And our plans often do not align. I know His plan is better, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.

Here were a few of my plans:

  • To be rich and famous—kind of kidding here (I never thought I’d be rich and famous, but maybe richER)
  • To be home-free with parenting when the kids went off to college
  • To retire by the time I’m 60—probably not happening
  • To be well-traveled

Here are some of the things that I DID NOT plan for:

  • Life being so hard
  • Life going by so fast
  • A failed marriage
  • A blended family with four kids—never imagined having more than two
  • A child who struggled through college with physical and mental challenges
  • My stepdaughter getting married to someone she knew for three months and not telling us until afterwards
  • Our kids getting five cats, five dogs, a bearded dragon, and a snake(Oh, and almost forgot a hedgehog)
  • Rainbow hair, piercings (lots of them), and tattoos
  • Having the “itises” in my back—arthritis and bursitis

The list goes on, but I’ll stop there.

When things don’t go as we had planned or expected, we often experience disappointment. Disappointment is defined as the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the defeat of one’s hopes or expectations. Whether we like it or not, life should be less about what we desire and more about what God desires for us. Jesus prayed and asked God to spare Him from suffering on the cross, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus wanted his father to take away his suffering but recognized that God’s will is what is most important. We should realize that God is working out a plan that is bigger than us and that will be better for us in the end.

These Scriptures tell us a little more about His plans for us:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” – Jeremiah 29:11

When we experience disappointment, we may sometimes want to blame God. But God didn’t disappoint us; life’s circumstances and other people did. When something disappointing happens in our lives, it’s not a time to blame God; it’s a time to run to Him!

Here are five positive ways that you can deal with disappointment:

  1. Grieve and then release your disappointment to God

You have experienced a loss, so you will likely need a period where you grieve the situation. Cry, exercise, read, take a trip, or whatever will make you feel better. Face your disappointment and then release it to God.

  1. Pray

Spend some time talking with God. Tell him how you are feeling and ask him to help you accept your circumstances and move forward with your life.

  1. Assess and adjust your expectations

Assess your situation and then try to readjust your expectations regarding the things you want in life. Place your hope in God and ask Him to help you manage your expectations.

  1. Don’t wallow in your disappointment

Instead of wallowing in your disappointment, do something. Help others, take up a new hobby, volunteer. If one dream dies, pick another one and keep moving forward.

In her book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa TerKeurst says, “Sometimes to get your life back, you have to face the death of what you thought your life would look like.” Lysa explains in her book that the human heart was created in the context of perfection in the Garden of Eden. We certainly don’t live there now. We live in a broken world where we aren’t promised everything we want. God knows what is best for us, and He will deliver us.

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