We drove with anticipation to the restaurant. It’s St. Valentine’s Day and we have already called ahead to make reservations. They told us reservations would guarantee us a seat and all the special menu items. The special menu for Valentines was $50 per person. I know there are places where that’s not much money. But to us, $100 dinner is huge and we don’t indulge this way often. My wife and I glanced at each other and smiled as we walked in the door. Then we were seated, in the middle of a brightly lit room, at a tiny table, squeezed between the server station and another dining table, disappointment set in. I could literally hand the salt from the server station to the guests at the next table… without even standing up or stretching. I was so disappointed at the sad look on my wife’s face. This big splurge for something special and it feels like we are NOT sharing an intimate meal, instead we’ve crashed someone else’s date. I have eaten at Mc Donald’s restaurants have more elegant dining rooms.
There are many occasions in life when our expectations are not met. We have all experienced relationships where disappointment causes resentment. I am guessing you have received a gift at least once in your life that was somewhat of a disappointment, I know I have. I believe the greatest test of our character can be how we handle the moment when disappointment comes, because it will. Here are three ways handling disappointment reveals the real character of parents and teens.
- CHOICES – We have the right to set our own expectations.
- REACTIONS – We alone determine how we will respond to any situation.
- DECISION – We must decide to make the most of every moment.
At any given moment, we are exposed to new opportunities such as new potential friends, new classes, new jobs, new books to read, new movies to watch. We have to make wise choices in the very beginning. Chasing the wrong opportunity and expecting a great outcome is easy to see as foolish, usually in hindsight. We have all chosen a job, a movie, a friend and later regretted it. We must be diligent in our initial choices. You will never get back the time you invest in bad choices, so please make as few as you can.
Ask others about a book before you buy it. Read movie reviews online before you buy your tickets. Ask others about their experiences with a new potential friend. Ask yourself these tough questions: How does this new potential friend treat others or speak of others? How does this NPF treat or speak of their parents? What books do they read? What movies do they like to watch? Do the answers make you feel better about them or do you hurt for the way they have treated others. These answers should help you set expectations for how you will be treated by them, spoken of by them and what you will talk about together. The same questions can be applied to relationships at work, even the places you CHOOSE to apply for a job, the elective classes you CHOOSE to take. Proper expectations are driven by wise choices.
No matter how diligent we are in choosing the best friends, jobs, classes, movies, books, we can be fooled or misled. Some of the best advertising in the world is “negative press.” Some of the best movies I have ever seen, others had spoken of as boring. (I have strange tastes sometimes.) Some of the worst movies I have ever seen have been highly acclaimed award winners and blockbusters. We have all had a particular friendship that was all roses in the beginning and then something happened and it “went south”, turned sour, became painful. Perhaps it was a betrayal, perhaps it was distrust or a poor choice of words, but it was a mark of the end of something beautiful. Bitterness, hatred, trash talking, bad mouthing among friends or coworkers and especially on social media are the way many people would choose to react.
No one should be able to convince you to react in this way. Your heart and mind will be better guarded by responding with instant forgiveness, grace for the mistakes of others and trust that someone better will be coming into your life very soon. This is NOT the moment character is made, it is the moment character is revealed. React and respond with wisdom. If you are not ready to forgive, then commit yourself to remaining silent until your “kind words return.” If you do not have grace for the person who hurt you, ask yourself how many people you have hurt and treat this person the way you wish you had been treated after your mistake. Yes, these reactions even apply when the hurt was intentional. Reacting with grace is wise. One of my favorite quotes is from Nelson Mandela.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
My wife and I thought about walking out of this noisy, bright, unromantic dining room in search of “something better.” We discussed how disappointed we were for a few minutes. I even posted on Facebook how disappointed I was feeling. Then we laughed and DECIDED to make the most of the moment. I began cutting up with the server. I offered to take “sweetheart pics” for the couple at the table next to us… I didn’t event have to get up! We enjoyed our dinner. The food was pretty good I must say. We ordered dessert which was down right awesome. We had a good time, because we DECIDED we wanted to have a good time. We DECIDED to “hit the rest button” on our expectations. We got to know a few things about our server Courtney. She had the coolest broken beach glass earrings ever. Her boyfriend’s mother makes them. We invited her boyfriends mother’s to set up a table at THRIVE Women’s conference where Karin and I will be speaking in April. She gave us a card and said she believed his mother would love the opportunity.
Please make note. We did not have a happy ending because everything was exactly what we expected. We did not have a happy ending because all of our expectations were met after we threw a fit and demanded our way. We did not have a happy ending because of someone else. We had a happy ending because even though our choices and our expectations didn’t match we reacted with grace, and decided to reset our expectations.
Disappointment in life is coming your way if it has not already. Will you commit to CHOOSING wisely, REACTING with grace and DECIDING to reset expectations? IF you will do these things, no matter what life throws at you, you can make the most of any situation.