Scandalous News: You’re Allowed to Disappoint People

Love Well by Holley Gerth

I sit across from my counselor and share about the pressure I feel to meet expectations. She listens and then responds, “It sounds like you think it’s a sin to disappoint people….”

“Um, yeah” I reply, “Of course it is.”

She smiles and then says, “I think we need to talk about that.”

It turns out we’d just uncovered a HUGE lie in my life. One that contributed a lot to the anxiety I feel. Somewhere along the line I’d bought into the equation Loving people = Not disappointing them. 

But if that equation is true, then it would mean Jesus wasn’t loving. After all, he disappointed people tons. The disciples wanted him to be a political leader and instead he chose a different path. Folks followed him around and he often took off into the wilderness to pray instead of giving them what they wanted. His family pressured him to chill out and start acting more like a normal son and he said that people who did God’s will were his family and carried on.

If Jesus disappointed people and he is the most loving man who ever lived, we’re certainly going to disappoint people too. And what’s more, we should following his example by disappointing people for their greater good…and ours too. 

After I got home from my counseling appointment I pulled out one of my favorite books ever to reread a few passages. In Changes that Heal, Dr. Henry Cloud says…

If we feel responsible for other people’s feelings, we can no longer make decisions based on what is right; we will make decisions based on how others feel about our choices. Jesus said, ‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you’ (Luke 6:26). If we are always trying to keep everyone happy then we cannot make the choices required to live correctly and freely.

We can’t determine how successfully we are living the Christian life by who is unhappy with us. 

Woah. I first read the original version of this book almost twenty years ago and it still gets in my business {in the best possible way}.

Because of the way I’m physically wired, the calling I have and a variety of other factors in this season of my life I’m learning this: To love people well in the long-term I will sometimes have to disappoint them in the short-term. 

Changes that Heal explains that we are responsible to people but not for them. Yes, we are to be considerate and kind toward others but there will still be moments when we need to say “no” and set limits and they’ll be disappointed. And that’s okay. It’s the same thing God does with us. And looking back over your life, aren’t you so glad God didn’t give you everything you asked for?

Disappointing people is not fun. Especially for those of us with tender hearts. But it’s essential to living well, taking care of our relationships and fulfilling our purpose. And it’s not a sin. Instead it’s a loving, strategic choice we all must make at times.

Can we be brave and learn this together, friends? My heart is beating hard as I type these words but I’m willing to give it a try…

XOXO

Holley Gerth

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I’d love to connect with you on facebook, twitter, instagram & pinterest too.p.s. You know I love going to counseling–it’s like a spa day for your soul. {Counseling actually helped me process a lot of what I shared above.} My wise friend Roxanne Ross just got certified to do distance counseling, which means she can work with anyone, anywhere. I highly recommend Roxanne and you can connect with her at www.roxannerosscounseling.com.