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[caption id="attachment_172234" align="aligncenter" width="1180"]"3 ways to deal with disappointment" by Maria V. Gallagher (CatholicMom.com) Image by Francesco Ungaro (2017), Pexels.com<//a>, CC0/PD[/caption]

As the first wave of the coronavirus hit my Commonwealth, it seemed like a tsunami of disappointments followed. The bishop in my diocese cancelled public Masses. Confessions — even the innovative drive-thru kind — fell by the wayside. I looked on helplessly as friends had to grieve deceased loved ones without the community there to console them.

And then there were the less somber, but still painful disappointments. Each trip to the supermarket seemed a voyage of unmet expectations — bare shelves, long-time staples missing, signs everywhere limiting quantities. Favorite recreational activities had to be abandoned, by order of our state officials. The comfort of my old weekend routine was now just a memory.

What can one do in the face of so many disappointments? Is there a way to move past the hurt and anger and, dare I say it, experience actual joy?

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I found that there is a rainbow hiding along the horizon of dashed dreams. But sometimes I have to adjust my vision in order to find it. Here are three ways that I have discovered to lessen the blow of canceled parties, postponed gatherings, and all manner of other disappointments that have come my way in recent months:

  • I take my disappointment directly to God. The more time I waste fretting and fuming, the less time I have to enjoy life as it is. By talking over my disappointments with my heavenly Father, I find comfort where I might otherwise languish in despair. Just the act of turning to God can be the breakthrough I need on a drizzly day of disappointment.
  • I count my blessings. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I have a mountain of blessings to cherish. From family to friends to good books to comforting phone conversations, I possess an embarrassment of riches.
  • I attempt to reach out and touch someone else’s life. Granted, this can be a bit tricky in the era of social distancing, but it is still doable. Perhaps it involves sending an uplifting text to a friend facing tough times. Or maybe it involves making a donation to a local food bank. Whatever the act of charity, I find my spirit soars when I lend a helping hand to others.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux has been quoted as saying that everything is grace — and, in fact, it is. Each event that comes into our lives is a gift from God. Sometimes, the gift appears in strange wrapping — but it is a present from the Almighty, nonetheless. When I stop to realize that, I find that disappointment gives way to resignation, then acceptance, and, ultimately, joy.

Knowing that God is ultimately in control is a tremendous comfort. I have no need to be ashamed of failures, for my Father can produce from them the sweetest fruit. Everything in my life does not depend on me — I depend on God, who is my Everything.

And it is entirely possible that today’s disappointment saves me from a bigger disappointment farther down the road. I wish it had not taken a pandemic for me to realize the true riches in my life, but the Lord does work in mysterious ways. Each cross, rather than being a stumbling block, can be a stepping stone to something greater.

I can see now that the crosses in my rear-view mirror have prepared me for a more intimate, loving relationship with God. And that is worth far more to me than a well-stocked grocery store or an afternoon of fine dining at my favorite restaurant. In the end, that bond with God is far more satisfying.

Copyright 2020 Maria V. Gallagher