My husband and I are reading a book, really two books, right now that are so life changing and faith altering - I can barely describe it. In fact, the first day we were reading them, Nick anticipated what typical Jess would do and he texted me about 3 hours into the morning saying, "These books are going to be so good for us. But maybe can we wait to tell the world about them until we've really let the truth seep into our hearts?".
I immediately laughed out loud because I'd be crafting the perfect instagram in my head to share the books and I'd already texted two friends saying "YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND HAVE TO READ THESE BOOKS." My man knows me well and ultimately, he was so right. A big struggle for me is learning and growing just to learn and grow without immediately regurgitating what it is I've learned.
But I feel the freedom to share one little snippet I've been learning because I feel like it's so appropriate and timely for this generation and this particular season, the holidays.
The books are Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and the accompanying devotional: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality:Day by Day, both by Peter Scazzero. If you can't tell - I basically can't recommend theme enough.
Anyhow, one morning I was reading in the Day by Day devotional about how Jesus, our perfect and holy human Savior, really often disappointed people. It was a quick devotional, but it outlined just a few of the major stories of when He really let people down. The devotional covered the times when His ministry was really thriving and there were lots of hurting people who needed Him, but He drew away. It talked about when He let His mother down and she even doubted His sanity.
My mind immediately drifted to tons of other times Jesus disappointed people. He disappointed the disciples when He wasn't the political figurehead they'd hope for. I'm sure He disappointed people when He didn't come quickly enough to do the miracle they were hoping for. Lord knows He disappointed the religious leaders and the Pharisees with His radical love and grace.
Jesus disappointed people, but Jesus never sinned.
I think of how many days my actual whole life is aligned towards not disappointing people. I feel it in my gut and I say it out loud only to myself in the most frustrating of days. I FEEL LIKE I'M JUST HERE TO MAKE EVERYONE ELSE HAPPY AND I'M STILL NOT DOING A GOOD JOB. Or maybe when I have a really good day of making others happy, I feel the opposite. I have done good today because I've met or exceeded expectations. Hooray for me.
Jesus' life goal was so far removed from meeting the expectations of the people who He really, really loved. The question wasn't whether He loved them, the question was how He loved them. He didn't love them by doing what they wanted, He loved them by doing what He was called to do. He loved them by completing His mission, even all the way to the cross.
Now? Let's take it a step further. Jesus disappointed people, but Jesus didn't sin. Could it be that we might be able to disappoint people without sinning either? Don't get me wrong - a lot of times when I've disappointed people, I HAVE actually sinned. But sometimes? I haven't. Sometimes I've disappointed people because their expectations were too high. Sometimes I disappoint people because I make the wisest choice and it's not the one they'd have me make. Sometimes I disappoint people because I'm about my Father's Kingdom and not about this world.
Jesus disappointed people, but didn't sin. Could it be that we might disappoint people without sinning either? (tweet this)
Could we take it even one more step further? Could we say: Not only is it possible that I might disappoint people without sinning, but sometimes when I live in such a way as to not disappoint others - I AM SINNING.
Anytime our lives are pointed and moving towards the approval of men and not God, we've gotten off path. We've forgotten our call and our commissioning. We've made the people our masters and their approval, or lack of disappointment, our treasure. I think that there are times when our worshipful obedience to God will turn into the joy or approval of others, but I don't think that overlap should be our goal.
So here's my first big gut check for myself and for all of us this holiday season: Are we ok with disappointing people when we are faithfully obeying God? Is our aim the approval of men or our King of Kings? Do we need to accept some grace and walk in freedom for times when we've let others down but haven't actually sinned at all?
I'm going to come back later in the week with some more fleshed out thoughts about really actually dealing with the disappointment of others and how to love well and also live on mission during the Holidays specifically. I'd love to hear below in the comments though, does this resonate? Are you like me and are you finding that you really closely associated living without sin and living without disappointing the people you love?