Are you facing disappointment and trials in life? Imagine being born deaf, dumb and blind! The remarkable thing is not that Helen Keller was given an extremely difficult hand of cards to play in life. Many people are. It’s more so how she chose to play them.
Are there secrets to dealing effectively and productively with the daily disappointments of life? Consider the following seven possibilities:
1) ASK WHY. One evening several college students spread Limburger cheese on the upper lip of a sleeping fraternity brother. Upon awakening, the young man sniffed, looked around, and said, “This room stinks!” He then walked into the hall and said, “This hall stinks!” Leaving the dormitory he exclaimed, “The whole world stinks!” The moral of the story? Some need only to wash their own face for the world to smell dramatically better. Helen Keller once stated: “As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.” Carefully consider the disappointments in your own life. Are you a significant part of the problem? An honest, introspective look in the mirror may be the beginning of a happier, more productive outlook on life.
2) LISTEN. Are you a charter member of an exclusive club of the abused? Some feel that way. Helen Keller once quipped: “Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.” In short, everyone suffers. Imagine 50 random people forming a circle in the middle of a football field. Say each person was able to unleash their gravest burden; placing it in the middle of the circle. Each shedding a burden, however, was required to select someone else’s from the pile. Conventional wisdom says to keep your own, because most around us are dealing with something as bad or worse than we. There is something strangely therapeutic about realizing everyone struggles. Disappointment is simply part and parcel to living life in a fallen, broken world.
3) TALK TO OTHERS. Many feel trapped, seeing no outlet for their pain. It’s bad enough to feel like a boulder has fallen on one’s head. It’s worse yet to feel it, subsequently, strapped to your back. The secret? Let others in. Be friendly. Join a church, club or social organization for the specific purpose of connecting. Let others help carry your load. Helen Keller suggested: “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” We simply were not created to do life alone — especially in the dark.
4) READ AND TRAVEL AS ABLE: There are few ‘American’ problems and hardships that a trip to Haiti won’t fix. Many years ago, returning from an extended mission’s trip to Pakistan, I was overwhelmed with the unspeakable privilege afforded those born in the western world! For example, $50 a day sounds like the height of poverty until one realizes a sizeable segment of the world’s population lives on $50 a month — or less. Again, Helen Keller adds: “Many people know so little about what is beyond their short range of experience. They look within themselves — and find nothing! Therefore, they conclude that there is nothing outside themselves either.” A careful look beyond our short range of experience will quickly reveal a life blessed beyond imagination. In short, many of life’s greatest disappointments are deeply soothed by a heavy dose of renewed perspective.
5) ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Wise people avoid the Lotto mentality — that they are one trip to the casino away from happiness in life. Do you know the mathematical odds of ‘winning the big one?’ (ODDS) The ‘Lotto’ mentality does nothing but add to the crushing disappointment wherein one struggles. Helen Keller insightfully recognized the following: “What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.” Try this. Be wise with what you do have, determining to find contentment within your present means. If peace continues to evade, do something about it. Identify your dream, sacrifice to achieve it, and then adjust your expectations as you go. In short, don’t strive to live… desire to live… expect to live at a level of wealth and respect in life that you haven’t prepared for. This is a sure prescription for chronic disappointment.
6) SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE. I enjoy an occasional garage sale. There is something inexplicably exciting about looking for treasure amidst someone else’s discarded junk. That said, how much more stuff do most really need? Could it be that many attempt to fill the holes of life with the wrong things? Helen Keller spoke to this issue as well: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” Stuff will never satisfy. Watch the commercials. Last year’s wonder phone is now terribly inadequate. Really? Those convinced that ‘more’ is the answer to finding peace in life will always be searching. Instead, try simplifying your life. Give some stuff away! Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to get.” Maybe He was onto something. Finally,
7) ALLOW CIRCUMSTANCES TO MAKE YOU BETTER — NOT BITTER. It was affirmed earlier that struggle and disappointment are part of the human condition. If true, the question ceases to be ‘if,’ but ‘when’ disappointments come. So, if struggles in life are a given, the most important question is “how will I respond?” Happy, productive living depends on how we respond to disappointment and pain. Many, when handed lemons, will become increasingly sour. Others, handed an equally challenging lot, will choose to make lemonade. Helen Keller curbed the market on ‘lemonade production.’ Consider a final thought from this remarkable lady: “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” Sure, life will always offer substantial, even crippling disappointments. But if a deaf, dumb and blind gal can be an ‘overcomer,’ you can too! Go get ‘em, tiger!
About the author
Jim Harper is the pastor of Mountain Bible Church, 302 E. Rancho Road, Payson. Services are at 8:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Sunday.
To learn more about the church and its programs, call (928) 472-7800.