Tag Archives: disappointment

The Problem With Happiness

It’s a funny thing about amusement parks. They should be just about the happiest places on earth.


But, as anyone who’s ever gone to Disneyland or Disney World, or Great Adventure, or LegoLand, or any other amusement park, there are gallons of tears shed by little tykes at these places.


I think it has to do with expectations.

Never mind that just being able to get through the entrance gates is a gift: a huge sacrifice for most middle-income parents or grandparents or from whomever is paying the entrance fee. (We shelled out 500 dollars the other day for Bruce and I, our daughter, and our two granddaughters. Not including parking fees and food and souvenirs.)

But kids don’t consider that kind of thing. They’re looking forward to rides and rides and rides, and snacks, and prizes and souvenirs and toys, and on and on.

So  the child enters through those noisy, crowded gates, heart aflutter, stomach buzzing, feet twitching to get to the first ride, any ride, jes-gimme-a-ride ride.


The line is long for that first ride. It’s not the best ride, but at least it’s the nearest one to the entrance gate. All the other parents are thinking the same thing. So we inch along, slower than the proverbial snail.

At last the moment comes. We crawl into the kid-sized seats and pull the lap bar down firm against our middle-aged paunches.

The ride lasts about ten seconds. I see the look of surprised disappointment on my granddaughter’s face. That’s it? That’s what we waited half an hour for. One loop around, one scream, one dip, and we’re done?

Next, we head for the merry-go-round. That line is pretty long, too. I don’t go on this ride because I want to grab a few photos of the kids as they round the bend. The photos don’t come out too well, but at least the kids enjoyed the three go arounds.

Now they’re asking for a snack, so we head on over to the Asian food. We pay way too much, and the kids hardly touch their food. This is where I hear a kid whining about not being able to ride the roller coaster. A younger child is wailing because he didn’t get whatever. I didn’t want to eavesdrop.

We wait in the long line—there’s always a line— at the rest room. As we exit, I hear two other young kids crying.

My granddaughter is nervous about our next ride. It looks scary. I tell her “no worries ’cause we’re all strapped in and it doesn’t even go that high.”

The line for that ride wasn’t too awfully long maybe because one had to be at least three feet tall to ride. And we didn’t even have to go all the way to the top if we didn’t want to because we are the ones controlling the rope attached to the gears. Why didn’t we go higher up? my granddaughter asks afterward. Because you kept telling me to stop pulling us higher. You don’t like heights. But, after not getting killed on this particular ride, she’s a bit disappointed we didn’t risk going all the way to the top.


I saw one dad try to get into a particular ride with a way-too-small child. After waiting for half an hour, he got turned away. But I didn’t feel too sorry for him. There was this bar at the entrance that said your child had to be at least this tall, but he must have thought the rule didn’t apply for him and for his child.

The weather is warm and this seems to make kids tired and cranky.

The smaller kids who still need to be wheeled around in strollers are complaining about being strapped into a hot seat. About ninety percent of them—the ones who aren’t asleep—are screaming for freedom.

The mothers have that harassed look you see when they’re about ten seconds away from going postal. They’re annoyed with the dads who aren’t helping with the screamer, even though the dads are carrying the camera, the diaper bag, with one kid on their shoulders and one in tow. (Is everybody happy?)


The ride workers have their instruction voices down cold. They’ve said their lines at least 16 billion times this season. They have smile lines etched into their faces like marionettes. I find myself simultaneously laughing and smarting at the thought of their daily grind. They remind me of the elves in Santa’s line in the movies, The Christmas Story.

What a happy place!

Mostly, Bruce and I enjoyed our seven hours of wait-lines and short rides and hot sun and cranky kids. Actually, our grandkids did amazingly well, considering the crowds and lines and exorbitant prices in the stores. I didn’t hear complaints. And I’m pleased with them. I hope they mature to the point that they don’t take the gift of attending an expensive amusement park for granted. I hope they got home and remembered to thank Mom and Dad for giving them such a great vacation instead of simply assuming it’s their due.

I thought a lot about this during those seven hours. How visiting an amusement park illustrates our human condition. We want to be happy, and happy all the time. We have expectations of pleasing ourselves 100 percent of the time. We forget about all the good things we’re getting or have gotten because of that one thing we didn’t get.

Why do we do that? I do that, and I hate than about myself. Each day I need to remind myself that life is not an amusement park. It may have amusement park moments, but these moments are only a part of our individual time-lines.


I think the happy experience of the amusement park is happiest for those whose daily lives teach them that the expectation of constant happiness is simply not realistic, or even healthy. That this particular happy moment is a gift from God, a joyful handing over to His child a slice in time as a delectable and rare treat to be savored. And then, pleasing God by turning around and saying, “Wow, thanks, Lord. That was fun.”




Hunting For Bunnies

A beautiful cat lives somewhere around here. She frequently visits our backyard. With stripes and spots and stealthy movements, she behaves just like a leopard or tiger in the jungle, and I call her “Beautiful.”

Beautiful always comes from the south side of our wooded yard. Crosses through the steep middle section, behind the rhododendron, under  the bows of the cedars, languidly trailing her long tail under the hanging blackberry vines as if enjoying the scratch of the thorns.

She’s looking for bunnies.

Bunnies do occasionally browse in and around our shrubs. I’ve seen them.

But not always.

But Beautiful comes in nearly every day with the full expectation of catching one.

I remarked to myself the other day that Beautiful is a reminder of the importance of persistence and of checking back already-searched areas.

Yesterday I received a sweetly-phrased rejection from an editor to one of my literary submissions.

Of course my first reaction was disappointment, followed by the usual, “I can’t believe they didn’t want this project; it’s so good.”

Then I felt the inevitable, “Maybe I should give up writing.”

After I calmed down, I remembered Beautiful.


How she keeps coming back, again and again.

Because today might be the day that she actually catches her bunny.

So I decide to keep trying, and I thank God for reminding me that survivors—like Beautiful—only survive because they don’t give up.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll catch my bunny in the bushes.

“Patience and tenacity of purpose are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.” (T.H. Huxley)

Seven Benefits of Disappointment

I entered a writing contest a couple of months ago.

The results came in the other day and I was disappointed.

My scores were a 95 (out of 100), 98, and……..a 52.

The high-scoring judges recommended that I send off my manuscript without delay to publishers. The low-scoring judge’s critique advised me to change my novel’s concept.


How can there be such a huge discrepancy in judges’ viewpoints? More important, what can I learn from this experience?

After a cooling off period—every writer needs a few days to get over harsh critiques—and some prayer, self-examination, and further examination of my contest submission, I gained some insights:

1. God is not surprised at the outcome of this contest. He’s not taken by surprise by anything that occurs in my life. He knew about my score long before the judges even saw my submission. He knew that I would have two enthusiastic judges, and one who simply didn’t like my submission.

2. God is not disappointed with me. I am His child. He knows my heart and that I want very much to please Him. He knows my current state of maturity, knows my current stresses, my deepest desires, my most fervent prayers, my most acute wounds. He views me as I was, as I am, and as I will be. And the days of my life are not measured by my timeline of achievements, but in terms of my relationship with God, built on ever increasing faith.

3. God is in charge. Though I rail at Him sometimes at the the slowness in coming of all things I pray for, I know that He is a wise Father. He is not so much interested in satisfying my temporal appetites as He is in bringing me into alignment with His perfect will.

4. Immunization. A contest, followed by a critique is kind of like going to the doctor to get a shot. You know it’s going to hurt, but the shot will prevent something worse father on down the line. Over time, and after several rounds of shots, You get pretty blasé about the experience.

5. Education. Each critique gives me bits of information to help me improve my craft. I paid money to receive critiques, so I should get my money’s worth by heeding the critiquers’ advice.

6. Perspective. There will always be readers who won’t like my story or my writing. I need to get over it. I cannot be all things to all readers.

7. Focus. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the criticism, but I need to force my mind to focus on the positive comments so that I don’t become discouraged.

You may not be a writer, but I’m sure you have experienced disappointment. I hope that my “seven benefits” are an encouragement to you today. Keep on keeping’ on!

“A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.” (Proverbs 15: 5 NIV Bible)

Bucking Broncos Busted

Well, I for one thought it was a shoe-in.

Of course, the Denver Broncos would win. They’re a fantastic team. They have Peyton Manning. They beat the New England Patriots.

At church, the morning of the big game, many people were sporting orange and blue in support of their beloved Broncos.

I’m not usually a big football person, although I do enjoy an occasional game. My husband is slowly educating me about the rules of the game. And I find myself beginning to recognize types of plays and even get upset when I see my players missing an obvious pass.

The game was simply stunning as it captured one mistake, one inept move after another by the Broncos. If I hadn’t seen them handily beat the New England Patriots just a couple of weeks earlier, I’d have claimed that the Broncos were simply outclassed at every point. The conspiracy-theorist part of me mumbled that the game had been fixed. No team could make such blunders and have such bad luck.

It was interesting to see many of the Bronco fans on camera after the game. Such dejection. You’d have thought a catastrophe had just taken place. I guess for the team, the outcome was catastrophic.

This is why I don’t watch too much football. I can become so tied in emotionally with the team that I get way too upset when they lose.

It’s way too easy to let football—or other activities—become so important that they supplant what is truly important.

Like our relationship with the Lord, our families, our communities.

Football can become an idol. There’s even a Christian song that says there’s a big football field in heaven where we can all play.

Not to denigrate football…but I think we might have more important things to do in heaven than play football. (I could be wrong.)

I think football, like medicine, is for this side of heaven.

Keep your perspective, Christian Broncos fans. I know it’s disappointing, but life has not stopped.

All living things on earth will disappoint eventually you if you put your trust in them. But the Lord will never let you down. When you worship Him, and Him alone, you will not have to fear catastrophe.

Remember to give yourself this test when faced with a grave disappointment:

Will this disappointment matter in say ten thousand or fifty thousand years when you’re still in the infancy of your eternity in heaven?

If not, then push on.

“The Lord’s pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” (Psalm 147: 10, 11 NIV Bible)