Some years ago when I was an editor at a newspaper, I was working on an article on a National Football League team that was headed for the Super Bowl. Their manager had asked me to wait to finish up the work until after they had played the big game. That seemed fair, but to my surprise, they lost.
They must have been surprised, too, because when I called their corporate offices a couple of days after the game, the attitude of the woman who answered implied, "Why are you bothering us? Can't you see that we are in deep mourning here?" Startled, I wanted her to feel better, but I wasn't sure how to do it. Then the conversation took an unexpected shift that enabled me to say things that really did cheer her up.
This experience has made me much more aware of the Super Bowl and also of how disappointment, for any reason, can be hard to overcome. I've had to deal more than once with the "If only ..." syndrome - the post-event analysis that suggests victory would have come if only something else had been done.
Unfortunately, the "if only" process really doesn't eliminate disappointment, no matter where it comes from. It just keeps us going over and over the same old ground. But there is an antidote that will work. Mary Baker Eddy describes it in this statement from her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love" (pg. 322).
In "the arms of divine Love," we can gain the comfort and encouragement we need at those times when life seems unfair. And occasionally we may also get a little push that says, "Time to learn what you can from the experience, and then let it go and move on." While that's not always easy to do, it really is essential to regain happiness.
One of the many bad things about disappointment is that it can keep us from seeing any evidence of good in our lives. We can get so fixated on the bad thing that's happened that we don't even see the blessings that are waiting for us. This is one reason why it's important to stop focusing on the sad time and to open our eyes to the good that is going on right in our midst.
Another reason is that, in reality, each of us is loved and cherished by God. And God has a specific plan for your happiness and mine. What this means is that God's plan for you is unique, just as His plan for me is unique. I can't take anything from you, nor can you take from me. So then, if we're feeling disappointed about something, it's primarily because we are focusing on what we think God has not given us, instead of focusing on the good He is giving.
The answer is to focus on what is good in our lives. This may take many different forms - a smile from a friend, a slurp from a puppy, the satisfaction of doing something well, the warmth that comes from being with family. In its ultimate sense, this good is a reflection of the love God is giving to each of us in abundance - every second of every day of every year. If we're able to discipline our thoughts so they are directed toward this more spiritual view of life, we will be less likely to be stopped cold in the face of disappointment. But even if we do get stuck, we can immediately affirm whatever we can perceive of the good God is giving us. This goodness will offset evil. It immediately provides comfort in times of need and ultimately leads us to where happiness awaits us.
In the arms of divine Love, it is possible to overcome disappointments and get new insights into life. In divine Love's eyes, each of us is worthy of God's gifts poured out in abundance. And we can pray to God and ask Him to open our eyes so we can see these gifts in a tangible way. Love doesn't tease us; through its tender and accurate guidance, we will see Love's care for us in tangible, not abstract, ways.
And this perception of Love's presence will give us peace and the inspiration to go beyond our disappointment to the genuine blessing that is already present and waiting for us.