What to Do When People Absolutely Disappoint You

It’s time to graduate from our expectations to Reality 101

After a lifetime of people disappointing us, it’s tough not to develop a thick membrane of cynicism around our hearts. I’m convinced, however, we simply need stiff jolt of reality.

What to Do When People Absolutely Disappoint You

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We need to come to the place where we realize everybody in our lives will fail us to some degree. Everybody.

  • Our parents will fail us.
  • Our children will fail us.
  • Our spouse, our boss, our friends, and even our pastor—all will fail us.
  • And let me quickly add, we will also fail them.

But you know the most humbling reality? It isn’t easy to write.

A Humbling Reality When People Disappoint You

We fail ourselves. After all, we’re people too.

I know, I know, that sounds like Ebenezer Scrooge reciting the book of Ecclesiastes. But it’s true.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote of the barrenness we experience in life when we look to people for strength and security instead of to God:

Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. (Jeremiah 17:5)

When we look to people as our foundation, our attitude becomes: “Who will make me feel good today?” Oh, we never say that, but we seek it. Our life’s quest can quickly become trying to find a person or situation—or anything—that will either make us feel good or make us feel nothing.

What We Expect

Whether it’s family or friends, those closest to us often fail our expectations the most, because we have the most expectations of them. That kind of unhealthy dependence makes us slaves of our circumstances—a sure recipe for disaster.

Disappointment with people can make us cynical. But it can also have the opposite effect. It can sober us up to the reality that God never designed people as our goal. We must shed any idolatrous dependence on people and push back against our inclinations to put them in God’s place. As Jeremiah goes on to write:

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

Reality 101: Satisfaction Only Comes from One Place

We live as fallen individuals in an imperfect world, and no person or circumstance can possibly produce the exact ingredients for our stability, joy, and purpose.

If we look to people to give us the joy only God can give, we will see ourselves as victims. Getting satisfaction from people can never be our focus by way of need—or they will fail us.

It must come from elsewhere.

Satisfaction Only Comes from One Place

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

If we realize, however, that normal life includes experiences of hurt, rejection, and loss—just as the Son of God faced—we’ll quit expecting the perfection now that only heaven will bring.

Instead, we’ll love people more and demand of them less. Disappointment with people should draw us close to the One who will never, ultimately, disappoint.

Being close to God then frees us up to love people rather than need them.

Tell me what you think: Do you find yourself needing people more than loving them? To leave a comment, just click here.

Waiting on GodLike This Post? Get the Whole Book!

This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing.

• What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life he has given you?

If you find yourself waiting on God—or if you don’t know what God wants you to do next—this book offers a wise and practical guide to finding hope and peace in life’s difficult pauses.

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