Tag Archives: loss

Unmet Expectations: How Should You Respond?

Christmas is over. Was it all you hoped it would be? I’m not just talking about the presents, but the relationships. Did it all work out? How you respond to unmet expectations is really the daily battle of life and it determines your success in life as well.

Hundreds of Expectations

Whether you realize it or not, you face unmet expectations every day, not just the day after Christmas. You have hundreds of expectations for how the day should go, from your alarm clock going off on time, to the weather, to how your boss should treat you, to how your favorite Netflix show should end. It’s endless.

The Emotions of Unmet Expectations

When you meet those expectations, you experience a degree of satisfaction and contentment, even elation. But when they aren’t met you experience these primary emotions:

  1. Anger. You are mad that your expectations weren’t met and start looking to blame someone for it: others, yourself, and sometimes God.
  2. Sadness. You grieve the loss of what didn’t happen.
  3. Fear. You are afraid that your expectation will continue to go unmet.

For the small expectations, these emotions are barely detectable. But they still exist to some degree. The bigger the difference between what you expected and what you got, the greater the emotion.

Responding to Unmet Expectations

Now, there is nothing wrong with these emotions. They are God-given and natural. The problem is what happens after you experience these emotions. How will you respond? Choices must be made and this is where we often go wrong. We let our emotions influence our choices.

Put simply, our choices go in two directions: constructive and destructive. We default to destructive because that’s what feels good in the moment and that’s what people modeled for us most often growing up. We follow one of two paths:

  • Silence. We shut down and isolate from others.
  • Violence. We strike out with our words, actions, or even our fists.

Unfortunately both responses only cause more loss and begin a downward spiral that leads to more emotion and more bad choices.

A better choice is to be constructive. Again there are two paths to go here:

  • Resolution: You seek to meet the unmet expectation either by raising the performance or lowering the expectation.
  • Acceptance: You choose to accept that you can’t meet  your expectations and that life can still go on.

Like I said before, this process is ongoing every day, whether you realize it or not. Your brain is processing losses non-stop, choosing these two pathways and incurring the benefit or curse of your choices. Choose well and you release the weight of your loss. Choose poorly and you add another brick to your backpack.

Inviting God into Your Unmet Expectations

You can’t do much about your emotional response to unmet expectations, but you can do a lot about how you respond to them. This is where God can help. Turn to God with your anger, sadness, or fear and say:

Father, I’m so disappointed in what didn’t happen. But I don’t want my emotions to influence me to do the wrong thing. Help me to think clearly and respond in a constructive way. Give me the wisdom and ability to resolve what went wrong or the grace to accept it and move on.

This is a very practical way to incorporate God into your daily life. Unmet expectations happen all the time, so invite God into those moments. If you do, you’ll find yourself living with a greater sense of peace than you ever have before. You’ll also find that God has become very real in your life as you turn to him on a regular basis.

Here’s to a better 2017. To learn more about overcoming losses you might want to read my books, STUCK, or Return from Exile.

Facebooktwitterrss

Overcoming Loss: a free book offer for reviewers

Have you suffered a devastating loss and haven’t known how to get your life Overcoming lossback? Whether it’s a divorce, a death, a health issue, a job loss…well, you name it. These can all leave you feeling like you’ve landed in “exile.” My new book was designed to help people in overcoming loss, failure, and personal setbacks.

What is exile? Exile is when life throws you a curveball and you end up in a place you never thought you would be. You feel stuck, like a beached whale, with no way back. Exile convinces you that life will never be good again.

It’s lonely. It’s confusing. And it’s painful.

But exile can also be a time of transition that opens a door from one season of life to the next. In “Return from Exile” you will learn that, whatever pain and loss you have experienced, it is not the end of your story. You are not finished. You are not a washout. Exile is merely a rite of passage: an intensive character-building workshop preparing you for a richer, fuller life…if you let it.

Read a Preview of “Return From Exile.”

I’ve created a short preview of the book that takes you through the introduction and the first five devotions of a forty-day journey. You’ll hear a bit of my personal story and get a feel for where the book is headed.

Click here to download the preview.  Answer the questions to rate the preview and request a free copy of the book in exchange for reviewing the full version on Amazon.com. I don’t know about you, but I rarely buy a book without combing through at least a few reviews. I’d appreciate your posting a review when you finish the full book. My book page should be “live” on Amazon.com by the time you finish the book.

I hope you’ll share this post with your friends, especially those who might be hurting right now.

I appreciate your willingness to be a part of the publishing process!

Facebooktwitterrss

Seven Steps To Help The Hurting

hurting peopleI’ve been sharing the highlights from a recent series  on RelationSLIPS. In my last message I talked about how we often slip up with people who are hurting. Rather than offering words of healing, we often put our foot in mouths. So, I’d like to give you a brief recap of the advice I gave in this message.

When Bad News Happens

Imagine that a friend drops some big news on you. Bad news. They are getting divorced. They’ve got cancer. Their mother just died. Their teenager was just arrested for drugs. They lost their job.

…let your friend know that you will stand with them through their pain.

It’s going to happen. Are you prepared? Do you know what to say?

Seven Steps to Help the Hurting

Here are seven ideas to help you know what to do and say (and not say):

  1. Listen without any distractions. Turn off the tv and your phone. Don’t let your kids interrupt. If you can’t avoid being interrupted, then tell your friend that you want to give them your full attention so you need to schedule a better time.
  2. Dial into their emotion. Bad news strikes at our fear of losing control. It might also undermine our sense of worth if the loss has to do with being rejected (divorce, fired from job, etc.). Dialing into those emotions will give you empathy for what your friend is experiencing. The pain isn’t just from the loss itself but from what the loss means for their future.
  3. Don’t share clichés, even if they are from the Bible. This is harder than it sounds. Profound truths will pop into your mind and so you might be tempted to think that God gave you wisdom for the moment! Probably not. Wisdom just listens. So don’t say any of the following: It’s all a part of God’s plan, God won’t give you any more than you can handle, There’s a reason for everything, You need to just let go and let God. When someone dies, don’t say; God takes the people he loves the most, or God needed another angel, or They are in a better place now.
  4. Don’t correct them, even if they need correcting. Sometimes your friends’ bad news is a direct result of their poor choices. Bite your tongue. That’s not the time to show cause and effect. It’s not a teachable moment, so don’t try. If you do, you might lose a friend. They will be waiting to see if you seize the moment to preach at them or love them. So love them. You might get a chance later to share your wisdom…if they ask for it.
  5. Ask people what kind of space they need to process their pain. Everyone’s different. What comforts one person, offends another. I’ve learned this as a pastor. It’s frustrating. I’ve found the best thing is to just ask people: How can I help you right now? Would you like to meet to talk or would you just like some space to process this on your own?
  6. Affirm your commitment to stand with them. One of the most powerful verses in the Bible is when God tells us that he will never leave us or forsake us. You see, one of our greatest fears is that we’ll be alone. Abandoned. Left to face the world by ourselves. So let your friend know that you will stand with them through their pain. It doesn’t mean you will agree with everything they do, but you will stand with them.
  7. Offer to help in a specific way. People often tell a hurting person; If you need anything, just call. Odds are, they won’t. They don’t know what they need. Having to think of something and then call you is just work. So identify a need and just do it, like, mow their lawn. If you know them well, offer to pick up their kids or shop for them. This will be a huge relief.

Hurting people are an opportunity for you to show God’s love in a powerful way. Don’t run from it. But don’t run to them unprepared either, causing a relationSLIP.

What are some other tips you might offer to help a hurting friend. Scroll to the bottom of this page to leave your comment.

Facebooktwitterrss

God Can Refill Your Losses

Everyone is hit with loss. How you view your losses determines if you get stuck in loss or bounce back.

I’ve talked in other posts about the difference between a scarcity vs. an abundance mindset. Let me contrast these two again with pie charts.losses

Each wedge in this chart represents a loss and the damage to your life:

  • A: Abuse
  • B: Rejection
  • C: Failure
  • D: Betrayal
  • E: Your ever shrinking sense of wholeness

If you view your losses through the grid of scarcity, you see your life getting smaller. You become increasingly hopeless as you feel losses chipping away at your life. You wonder if you can hang on any more because bad things keep happening. This view is often accompanied by anger and depression.losses

But if you look at loss through the grid of abundance, your life isn’t chipped away. The loss causes a temporary set back (the blue wedge) but as you invite God into your life, he helps you to grieve the loss, absorb it, and continue on with your life.

A scar remains, reminding you of the loss, but the wedge is gone. It shrinks back to nothing. So instead of loss chipping away at your life, with God’s influence, loss actually expands you as a person; it makes you deeper and able to be a resource to other hurting people.

I hope this helps you or the people you might work with.

Facebooktwitterrss

Pastor, Do You Know Your Losses?

I’ve been pleased at the reviews I’ve gotten already on Out of Exile. One person said:

God used Remy … I forgave my offenders, forgave myself, and recalibrated. I’m back in ministry, due in large part to the writings you’ll find in this book. Am I overstating? Not if you knew my story…I’m on the comeback trail. (read the full review here)

I think what strikes people in the book is when they realize the many losses that come with being a pastor. We are trained to absorb the hard things in ministry like notches on our belt or scars of service that each tell a story. We are encouraged to “suck it up” and move on, warriors for Jesus. 

We are trained to absorb the hard things in ministry like notches on our belt or scars of service that each tell a story. We are trained to “suck it up” and move on, warriors for Jesus.

There’s nothing wrong with a pastor incurring loss for Jesus. It comes with the territory. But what IS wrong is brushing our losses under the rug and ignoring them. I think readers of Out of Exile are finding healing because I give them permission to admit and own their losses. This needs to take place in order to adequately grieve your losses and move on.

But instead, we tend to stockpile hurts and offenses that lead us to grow cold and lose our passion for ministry.click-here-to-listen3-150x150

To hear a short interview between my publisher and me, click this link. We discuss ministry losses and I also read Days 2 and 3 from Out of Exile.

After you listen to the podcast, let me know what your losses have been in ministry.

Facebooktwitterrss

Reframing Your Losses

Regrets can devastate you. Paralyze you. To get your life back, you have to come up with a new way to think.

Regrets have to do with the poor choices you’ve made. But the same is true of offenses done against you. In both cases, the temptation is to believe that the losses you incurred are insurmountable: you are forever damaged and disqualified from the life you assumed you’d have.

The key to moving on is to see what you’ve gained instead of what you’ve lost. WHAT? Gained something? IMPOSSIBLE! 

Your loss is a “gift.” It gave you a greater understanding of life. Something you didn’t have before.

Think of it this way: if you were going to see a counselor, would you want to see someone who has experienced your loss or not? Mostly likely, someone who has experienced it. That means the counselor has something the other doesn’t: more wisdom, more insight, more depth and breadth of understanding of life.

If that’s true of them, it’s true of you too. Your loss, whether done to you or by you, caused you to gain something. It’s a “gift.” It gave you a greater understanding of life. Something you didn’t have before. If you tap into that gain, you can use it to your advantage and resume moving forward in life.

Reframing your losses will help you get your life back.

Facebooktwitterrss

The Desert Prepares You for a Comeback

I spent the last several months talking about “exile”. Once I came upon the theme of “exile” in the Bible, I started to see it everywhere. It’s like when you buy a car and you start seeing that make and model all over the road. 

No matter what your situation is today, no matter how remote, how harsh, how isolated…God can use it to make you grow and become strong. 

I just started a study of Luke’s account of Jesus. The last verse in chapter one seems like a “throwaway” verse…a simple statement that wraps up a long chapter. But on second look, I saw another truth about exile. Luke is talking about John the Baptist:

…the child grew and became strong in spirit and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1:80

Where did he grow and become strong?  In church? In seminary? At the university? No. In the desert…the last place we think good things can happen. Our view of the desert is a place where your strength is drained. But not in God’s economy.

God can make you grow and become strong any place he wants to do it. No matter what your situation is today, no matter how remote, how harsh, how isolated…God can use it to make you grow and become strong. It can be the place he prepares you to make a comeback.

Father, help me to see my desert as a place where I can grow and become strong. Help me to not limit what you want to do in my life by my circumstances. Thank you for the good things you have in store for me. 

Facebooktwitterrss