To My Friends Who Have Been Disappointed



I know we can all feel it sometimes.

That big, missing, piece.

The job we have been waiting for but still haven’t gotten. The education we wanted, but never had the money to do. The relationship we dreamed of, but just doesn’t seem to come along. The way we hoped our family would look, but it doesn’t.

This missing something is for each of us, and for some it feels like a little bit of all of it.

A friend recently described it as the fear that she has “missed the boat.” She felt like everyone else knew when to get on, but she didn’t. That somehow her decisions, her choice to pursue one aspect of her life, prevented her from pursuing something else.

And that something else is now what she feels she is missing out on.

Present any one of our major life accomplishments and right next to it we see the missing piece, the part that we didn’t get, the dream that has not yet come to fruition.

I am uncomfortable with the unresolved. I don’t enjoy the waiting. I much prefer action. If I could, I would fling the friends I love forward from the waiting-phase to the happily-ever-after, answered prayer, glory-hallelujah-jubilee part of the story. You know, the good part. Where you aren’t stuck. Where you got a job after a year-and-a-half of unemployment, where you got pregnant after two years of trying, where you met the one after 35 years of waiting.

Proverbs say, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” The waiting and longing can literally make us heartsick. It’s hard not to think that God promised something special to us and that God has let us down when it hasn’t arrived. We carefully deconstruct our lives, measuring accomplishments and successes by our failures, and somehow it is easier to find ourselves weighed and wanting, rather than content.

“What would you say to a friend in your situation,” a therapist asked my friend, the one who fears that she missed the boat. “You wouldn’t tell her that she is un-dateable, that she is unemployable, that she will never find an apartment of her own. Maybe you need to see in yourself what you see in your friends.”

I can tell you what I see in my friends.

I see women of strength. I see the ones who’ve kept going in the face of incredible loss. I see ones who have succeeded in fields where women have had little chance for success. I see houses turned into homes. I see skills honed and developed. I see sacrifices and long hours, many little steps and big leaps of faith. I see resilience and grace and beauty.

Although I may know and grieve their losses, I don’t define my friends by what is lacking, I celebrate them for what they do have.

We need each other to move forward.

This is where we can be ministers to longing hearts. We may spend time measuring ourselves by what we are missing, but when we look to our sisters, we can offer words that call out hope for the dry places, we can acknowledge the move of God in unusual seasons, and see the progress that has been made.

And then maybe, just maybe, we can turn those words of life back around on ourselves, reminding us of the things we need to hear, the things we would tell our friends.

“You are strong. You are brave. You are loved.

It may not always feel like it, but you are moving forward.”