Monday, August 31, 2015

Notes From My Daughter - The Surprise of Disappointment

My Daughter

Occasional notes from my 21 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise. Read on!

The first time I recall challenging God I was about 6 years old. I remember learning in Sunday School that if you ask God for anything, He will answer - John 14:14 - "You may ask for anything in my name and I will do it." It sounded a bit too good to be true but I decided to give God a chance anyway; I was going to ask for something big so I knew that only God could answer and was really all He claimed to be. So I considered my 6 year old desires and offered a slightly selfish, yet really faithful prayer that went something like this:
"Dear God, I heard that you answer prayers if we truly believe. I am tired of being the baby in the family and I believe you can hear my prayers so God if you are willing please give me a younger sibling, and if you are really willing please let the sibling be a girl. This way I will always know that you are God and you answer prayers."
I didn't tell anyone about my prayer nor did I stop praying this prayer for a few months. I believed God could really do this and so I was persistent. I didn't nag my mom to see if she was pregnant either, I somehow believed that if it was to happen I wouldn't have to do much on my end besides believe. I guess this is why God admires childlike faith.

A few years later while Mummy was in New York and the rest of the family was in Jamaica my Dad came into the room after being on the phone with Mummy and said "Something has happened with Mummy, guess what?" and I immediately yelled, "SHE'S PREGNANT!!!!" To which my Dad silenced my joy with a very quick "No, guess again." More no's came with every new guess until finally my dad gave in and said, "Yes, Mummy is pregnant."

We were all jumping on the bed celebrating when I briefly stopped for a moment and said, "Thank you God for answering my prayer."

Fast forward to today and I have a brilliant, argumentative, loving 12 year old sister who really has completed the spectrum of personalities in our vibrant family. She likes to use this story of me praying for her as a reminder for me to be kind to her. She has a point. While she is a walking reminder of many things including that God answers prayers, she is simultaneously a living conviction that I always need to pray.

When she was first born I was elated, and I still am; it's great being an older sister. But as she started to grow I wondered why I am not naturally awesome at being a big sister. My childlike faith was not easily transitioning into loving faithfully, especially when she started to talk, have emotions of her own, or get upset with me for things I didn't think were a big deal. When I had trouble teaching her how to read, my patience was tried.  Or when I had to explain to her over and over again that because there is 10 year difference between us we wont be able to do everything together, it didn't always go over so well. When I couldn't relate to her in different ways I was surprised. I did not expect this disappointment, I did not expect to "fail" her in these ways. I did not expect to not know how to love someone I always wanted in my life.

Quite frankly expected disappointment is just self-pity and a defense mechanism. We classify it as "low self-esteem." You know the person who wakes up in the morning and is overwhelmed with the thought of another day because they have no idea what their supposed to do with it. Yea that's not what I'm talking about here (though I could in another post because I've dealt with that too).

What I'm talking about is wanting to be good at something, trying, and still not having the expected results. Or not continuously having those results, when good seems to be by chance and bad seems to be an inevitable constant road block. You're not mad at the thing/person you want, but you are confused with your own actions. Your success seems chaotic, and it's exhausting to think "Why do I suck?!" because you have no real understanding of why things aren't falling into place. That's how I felt at one point with the role of being an older sister. It's not a role I can quit, but at one point it was a role I stopped being as intentional about because  other things that COULD bring me peace of mind had more priority.

I write all of this to say, sometimes the falls take us by surprise but that doesn't mean we'll be spiraling down forever. Sometimes we need more maturity to really be able to accept the positions we want in life, a maturity we're not looking for, a maturity we do not expect to come in the form of unwanted mistakes. Even experts make rookie mistakes, they just learn to be be aware and move on. They know there's a resolution. Disappointments may surprise you, especially if you are disappointed with yourself, but there are 2 ways you should not react:
  1. Trying to rush through the recovery- you will get hurt again, or hurt someone else in the process.
  2. Avoiding the pain of the fall- awareness is key to finding out what you're made of.

You have to recognize that you are not the problem. A more recent prayer went something like this:
"Dear God, Am I ill-equipped to live my own life? In this continual quest to "get my life together," I keep on messing up in minor and major ways. Is there some intrinsic self-defeat characteristic in me that I just don't know about? What's going on? I'm so tired to people temporarily expecting so much from me only for me to perpetually let them down."
The day I said this prayer I looked at my sister and I'm reminded God hears us, even if we feel alone in our own mistakes. Just as I've learned to love my sister through the ups and downs of our relationship, we all need to learn to love ourselves through the surprises of our own disappointments.

We are not our own enemy and we don't have to be. Pray and know that you are heard and watch God comfort you as you believe Him to do all that He said He would do, and be all that He has promised to be. It is not just about the childlike faith that God hears you, but also your belief in Him, the process of life which make you question, "Why does God believe in me?" God has faith in you, even when you're disappointed with yourself. Those moments of questioning are part of the journey that strengthen your relationship with God. Your life won't always meet your expectations, but God will always go beyond them.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."Ephesians 3:20 [NLT]

Trust Him, give him a chance, let him surprise you in a way I promise will not be disappointing at all.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Gabrielle for your honesty (as always). I am bowled over by the measure of God's love - He who chose us when we were yet dead in our sins. He chose us fully knowing everything about us - how we would fail - and he is unflappable, unfazed by our failures. And He prepared good works in advance for us to do. We'll get there as we keep our eyes on Him and trust Him to transform us daily...


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