Hey Everybody, if you haven’t read last week’s blog post I’d like you to read it before you read this post. You can find it here . It’s a 6 minute read.
One Saturday night when I was about seventeen years old, I came home late after a night of partying. We lived four miles from town and I often had to hitch-hike home or if I was lucky one of my friends would drop me off at our driveway on the dirt road a quarter mile from the house.
I lived apart from my folks’ house in a little travel trailer under the locust trees across the yard from the house. I could usually come in without their knowledge, but for some reason this night my dad was watching and came out to talk to me.
I remember my dad sitting on a stack of lumber in the moonlight in the driveway area between the main house and my little trailer. I know it was moonlit, because I remember the dappled shadows of the locust leaves on the ground around us. He was sitting, kind of slump-shouldered and sad or angry looking. I was standing in front of him, kind of like the defendant standing before the judge.
My dad said, “Your mother and I are very disappointed in you!”
That’s it! That’s all! That’s what I remembered fifty years later!
That happened when I was about seventeen years old. I didn’t remember it until I was in my mid-sixties and was living my way through the process of learning that God was my loving father and he was not disappointed in me. When I learned my True Personal Identity (See last week’s post) it gradually opened up my mind and my memories to something that had happened fifty years earlier, something that had clearly impacted me deeply, but something I had never remembered until after I discovered that “I’m God’s beloved child, and he’s not disappointed in me!”
I don’t want to get bogged down in the idea of repressed (suppressed?) memories or try to be an armchair psychologist, but it’s interesting that I had lived my life most always feeling that God was disappointed in me, that no matter how hard I tried, the fact remained that I “should have done better”. Not always, but most always. I didn’t feel a sense of God’s disappointment always, but often. I didn’t think that God was always disappointed in me, but that he often was disappointed in me.
Suppressed memories? I don’t know. But I do know that when I had become secure enough in God’s love for me to know that he isn’t disappointed in me, that memory came to me so clearly that I can actually relive it in my mind! And that has been a healthy and healing thing for me.
Does that story, that incident that happened over sixty years ago, that I remembered only a little over ten years ago, mean my Dad didn’t love me? Absolutely not! It means that I had frustrated him (and my Mom) to the point that they didn’t know what to do with or about me! It means that my attitude and behavior, my selfish attitude and my “childish” behavior that flew in the face of everything my Dad and Mom stood for and hoped for in their son, had deeply disappointed them. I had not fulfilled their expectations and that was a disappointment to them.
My Dad actually misspoke. In his frustration with me he said “Your mother and I are very disappointed in you!” What he meant was “Your mother and I are very disappointed in your rotten attitude and stinking behavior!” But I heard “disappointed in you” and somehow that stuck in my soul long after the frustration and emotion my Dad and Mom were experiencing faded away.
This really makes me think about the power and lasting impact of words spoken by one in authority or in any of a range of other significant relationships. Parents, bosses, partners, siblings, teachers, think deeply and seriously about the power of your words!
My parents were born in 1917 (my Mom) and 1919 (my Dad). They were raised in poor families and were in their teens when the Great Depression hit. Their lives were simple and hard. The way they grew up shaped them and shaped how they raised my brothers and me. We’d ask, “Dad, can we get a TV?” Dad would say, “We’ll see.” (That meant no, it would cost too much)
We learned not to anticipate or look forward to things. We learned to lower our expectations. I remember my Mom saying, “Don’t get your hopes up then you won’t be disappointed!”
I know now that my parents lived with a lot of disappointment in their lifetime. For any number of reasons, things didn’t work out the way they had expected, the way they had hoped. They made a good life, but when I look back on what I know of their growing up, their youthful enthusiasm and zeal, then the hard knocks that came along through the years, it looks like as their expectations remained unfulfilled, their disappointment level rose.
I’m sorry that for a season, I contributed to raising their disappointment level. But that wasn’t a lasting thing. And even though we didn’t see each other much in the final years of their lives, because Jean and I lived outside the US for almost the last two decades of their lives, they were proud of the person I had become.
Did my Dad and I finish our relationship that way – me rebellious and him disappointed? Not at all. Our relationship matured through the years, mostly as I matured through the years. Thirty years after that night, when I was around five years older than my Dad was on that night, our relationship was a relationship of mutual love and respect. He was pleased (Not Disappointed) in me! I knew he loved and respected me and I loved and respected him.
There’s some really important lessons to be learned from the whole “disappointment” thing, you know? And one of the important lessons to be learned is not to learn too much from our lessons! Are you wondering what I mean by that? Mark Twain said, “A cat that sits on a hot stove lid will never sit on a hot stove lid again. But neither will it sit on a cold stove lid!”
Next week we’re going to dig into the “Not Disappointed” thing a little deeper. We’re going to look at the reason God is Not Disappointed in you and me. Don’t miss “Not Disappointed Part 3” in next week’s blog.
As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.