Thirty years of marriage have taught me many lessons, one being: Live expectantly in the moment and embrace the risk of disappointment.
Let me explain.
I can choose to live passively with the fear of potential disappointment or actively with the expectation of joy. If I choose the former, I begin to expect the worst, wait for the other shoe to drop, and walk around on eggshells fearing the moment that disappointment will rear its ugly head. If I choose the later, I live despite fear, expecting—by faith—that “joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5) however dark the night may have been.
Brené Brown writes that many people decide to live disappointed rather than risk feeling disappointment (Atlas or the Heart, 50). This leads to mental games of foreboding joy, being cynical or critical, or just never fully engaging. Why bother with potential joy when it will only get crushed by probable pain?
It only takes a few times of getting excited about eating ice cream but then being told “no” that we grow less excited so as to feel less disappointed. A man in his sixties once confided:
I used to think the best way to go through life was to expect the worst. That way, if it happened, you were prepared, and if it didn’t happen, you were pleasantly surprised. Then I was in a car accident and my wife was killed. Needless to say, expecting the worst didn’t prepare me at all. And worse, I still grieve for all of those wonderful moments we shared and that I didn’t fully enjoy. My commitment to her is to fully enjoy every moment now. I just wish she was here now that I know how to do that (idem.).
It's a travesty to go through life missing out on the joys of what is due to fear of what might be. Jesus calls us to a better way, a life lived to the full, not void of the possibility of disappointment, but one lived with expectant hope and joy despite disappointment.
Remember, the enemy is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).
The next time you shy away from potential joy due to possible disappointment, do a heart check and course change to live life to the full and not grieve missed opportunities on account of the fear of being disappointed.
“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12).