Why Growing Spiritually Can Mean Disappointing People

Why do we struggle with disappointing people? 

A necessary part of spiritual growth is knowing you will disappoint people. Which means you will fail their expectations. 

The Church taught me that I should never cause people to stumble. It’s okay to disappoint the world. Just don’t disappoint the Church and those in authority. But that thought invaded every part of my life.

I never really disappointed my parents.
I never really disappointed the Church.
I never disappointed anybody

I couldn’t disappoint them.

I struggled with the idea of failing anyone, in any small way, even at the cost of myself. I placed everyone first and placed myself last, thinking it was a spiritually sound way of operating.

i'm really disappointed in you cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Why is disappointing people important for spiritual growth?

I started disappointing others when I was 27. A spiritual crisis changed me. I knew I was going to disappoint their hopes for me. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to take care of myself first. 

Allowing disappointment in my life also opened the door for me to grow outside of their expectations for me. I committed myself to personal transformation. I stopped disappointing myself rather than others. When you decide to be true to yourself, you’re going to disappoint people, especially the ones who care about you.

You must commit to authenticity and the change this requires. Then you must accept that this will disappoint others. Your commitment to yourself may threaten relationships you care about because you’ve let go of the people-pleasing, peace-making side of you. 

When someone says, “I’m disappointed in you!”, just know it is their problem and they’re trying to make it yours by asking you to fall back in line.  

They’d rather you do the work to change back than them do the work to change forward. 

Why can spiritual growth lead to disappointing people? 

Spiritual growth can mean you grow outside of the boxes people put you in.  You change from who they thought you were, or wanted you to be. Their disappointment is based on an illusion anyway. 

It was not the real you. Their expectations are their hopes and fantasies for you, that they projected. These really have nothing to do with you, but with them. 

Maybe this will help some of you: in the gospel narratives we see that Jesus made a career of disappointing people. Not because he wanted to but because he had a higher calling than theirs to fulfill for himself.

Commit to change.
You will disappoint others.
But you won’t disappoint yourself.

And that's what ultimately matters!


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