She leads a launch team that I’m part of and on that day, she delivered some unwelcome news; many people in the group would not receive a physical advance copy of the book.
I made the cut, so I was reading the complaints and expressions of disappointment with little empathy.
I sent a text to the leader, hoping to offer a word of encouragement, assuming the comments were discouraging her yet impressed by the way she was extending grace to the “complainers”.
“You are such a great team leader. You are managing these poor, bitter people well.”
In hindsight, I see my self-righteousness (hypocritical as it was) in that second sentence. She replied within minutes, so kind, but her statement set me back on my heels.
“It’s okay to experience and express disappointment.”
I recalled that I had surveyed that list of paper copies and was very relieved to find my name. On the other hand, there was another list, for one of my favorite authors, and I didn’t “make the cut”. I internally decided I didn’t have time to promote a book that I wouldn’t get to read before launch.
Honestly, I had to acknowledge I was nursing a splinter of bitterness, disappointed that I wasn’t chosen. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve thought about my reaction and her statement frequently.
I’ve discovered something to be true in my judgement of others. Every single time, the thing I’m most critical of in others is my struggle as well. Perhaps that is why the Bible says in Matthew 7:3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” In my experience, their splinter is from the same “wood” as my log.
In this exchange my friend short-circuited my judgement with a simple, yet profound statement of grace – permission to express disappointment. It was one I hadn’t even allowed myself.
Expression of emotions is healthy. In fact, the best way to diffuse a powerful emotion is to express it. In my culture (family, work, church) there is a lot of freedom to express positive emotion, but we often haven’t known what to do with negative ones.
Just this morning, I read from Philippians 4 where we are admonished and encouraged to focus our minds on true things (among others) so that we can walk with God in peace. Does that seem like a contradiction to expressing negative feelings? Stay with me for another minute or two, friend.
In this case, I was disappointed that I would not receive a physical copy of Stasi Eldredge’s new book. She’s my all-time favorite non-fiction author and her book Captivating changed my life more than any book other than the Bible. My disappointment was a reasonable and healthy emotional response.
After admitting and expressing my disappointment, I moved on to embrace the truth:
- I have the resources to buy the book, or my library will have the book and I can request it online for delivery to my door (we live in amazing times, ya’ll!).
- Serving on launch teams gives me opportunities to interact with amazing authors and book lovers while we share new books with our communities.
And just like that…I’m flooded with gratitude and yes, peace. Peace comes with the right perspective, but we only get there by appropriately expressing honest emotions. I’m so thankful for the patient and smart people around me, who continue to extend grace as I learn and grow in the marvelous grace of God.
By his grace alone,