Discerning the Door in Disappointment: What to do when your Life doesn’t Look Like what you Expected + Free Worksheet

What do you do when it’s a New Year and you’re still stuck in a place you simply don’t want to be in? Or when the life you envisioned for yourself ends up looking nothing like what you expected?

What do you do when your picture perfect plans blow up in your face and there’s no plan B or C to lean into?

Experiencing Disappointment

For the past six months I’ve pondered these questions as I transitioned from graduate school into the “real world.” I initially thought the transition process would be smooth, beautiful, and picturesque. I would move back to my hometown, find the perfect job, cultivate a chill, young-adult community, make an impact, and live happily ever after.

No more school, no more papers, no more worries. Just a smooth road to my perfect destination.

Except, I was WRONG.

What I didn’t fully comprehend was the fact that I was exchanging school, with more challenging work, all-nighters, with a strict 8:30-5pm schedule, and perpetual coffee shop runs alongside of friends for evening at home writing bills and paying off student loans.

Life outside of the university life just wasn’t cutting it for me. Especially when I had plans of working in an innovative environment, with the option of sitting in ascetically pleasing coffee-shops any day, all day, whenever, wherever—as I pleased (they tell you to dream big don’t they).

Disappointment set in fast. And with disappointment came confusion. And with confusion came moments of flat out hopelessness.

Lord, is this all that there is? Is this what my life will consist of?

Sleep, work, and paying off debt???

In my eyes, I had accomplished “A” and “B” and it was supposed to equal “C,” but instead it resembled some distorted letter that wasn’t even a part of the alphabet.

My mind was constantly roaming—overthinking, grumbling, sulking. A continuous nasty cycle that got me nowhere fast. And at the end of the day, after I had expelled all my energy questioning and complaining, my life still looked the same. I knew that I couldn’t continue allowing my emotions to run wild (Philippians 2:14-16). I had to renew my mind DAILY in order to discern God’s will this season (Romans 12:2)…I just didn’t know what that looked like or how.

Related: How to Handle Hard Seasons

Discerning the Door in Disappointment

One morning on my way to work I decided to listen to a sermon that messed me allll the way up (in a good way).

The pastor spoke about seeing the disappointments/difficulties in life as doorways to self- development. What may seem like pure catastrophe or a shattering of dreams could be the very thing that builds your faith, strengthens your relationship with Jesus, and launches you forward into a space that you will thrive in. So instead of moping around and “counting it all as loss,” you have to “DISCERN the DOOR in the DISAPPOINTMENT.”

How is this circumstance stretching you? Changing you? Inspiring you? BETTERING YOU?

Think about it.

The job you dread going to every morning is teaching you discipline.

That co-worker that gets under your skin is presenting you with an opportunity to practice love.

Those (never-ending) bills are inspiring you to advance in your career.

This season of chaos is giving you the vision to dream again and to dream bigger.

You are learning.

You are developing.

You are changing.

And good gracious, YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT.

This season may be bleak, ugly, annoying, and unlike anything you expected it be…but what you don’t realize is that “this” … whatever “this” may be…is an unexpected blessing in your journey of personal and spiritual development. Believe me. It is not without purpose.

If you are going through it, you may as well grow through it (Come. On. Now).

[bctt tweet=”If you are going through it, you may as well grow through it.” username=”heyhanha”]

Related: How to be Glad when Your Plans Don’t Work

The First Step to Overcoming Disappointment

So what’s the first step? Ask God to show you the opportunity in this season of life.

He will help you to see the new perspectives you’re gaining, the perseverance you’re building, and the beautiful grace He’s surrounding you in.

So when you walk into your tiny office space, picture it as a doorway.

When you speak to that difficult family member, picture them as a doorway.

When you stroke that check for that fat student loan, picture it as a doorway.

The doorway to maturity.

The doorway to advancement.

The doorway to understanding.

The doorway to faith.

The doorway to character-building.

The doorway to that dream job.

The doorway to _______.

As the song 8:28 on Lecrae’s latest album proclaims, “It’s gon’ all work out sooner than later. You don’t have to worry about tomorrow, it’s going to work out in your favor. So keep your head to the sky, keep your eyes on the prize…”

And if I may add, get to steppppinnnnn’ 🙂

[bctt tweet=”He will help you to see the new perspectives you’re gaining, the perseverance you’re building, and the beautiful grace He’s surrounding you in.” username=”heyhanha”]

The doorway to development is wide open for you to stride on through.

Paul said it best:

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

-Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)

Grace and peace loves,

Danielle Marie

Meet Hanha!

Hanha Parham is a Christian author and speaker. Her personal mission is to help woman overcome fear and self-doubt so that they can confidently believe who God has called them to be. She holds a Masters in Divinity with a concentration in pastoral counseling and is currently pursuing her PhD in Christian leadership. Hanha has published two books, Jesus is Bae and The Confessions Project and she is passionate about teaching, equipping, and discipling the body of Christ. When she is not encouraging others or writing her heart out, she loves spending time with loved ones or exploring new coffee shops. 

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