Dealing with disappointment…

Warning: This post is purposely not “polished.” It’s a peek into my brain as I process through this situation…I chose this way because I hope that my transparency and willingness to be “raw” will help someone else who may be dealing with disappointment. So, here’s another peek into the way my mind operates. Fasten your seat belts, and please keep your arms inside the ride at all times…

One evening, in the mid-nineties, while at my college’s gospel choir rehearsal, I had a thought…a little inkling of a thought that maybe one day I might be some sort of missionary. Now, I was not an MK (missionary’s kid) and – at the time – had never traveled outside of the U.S. I didn’t even own a passport. Yet, somewhere inside of me, there was this seedling. If I had to guess, I’d suppose that the idea was the result of my belief that I had been placed on earth for the sole purpose of helping people in whatever way I was capable of doing so.

In 2008, I started working at North Park University as a Resident Director. One day, a co-worker was telling me about his recent trip to Zambia, a trip that was a part of North Park’s University Ministries Global Partnerships Program. It was like his story was the fertilizer and water that the little seedling from the 90s needed to develop some focus. Long story short, I found myself in Zambia for the first time in May, 2009, as a member of the Global Partnerships team. The trip was the result of a partnership between North Park and Spark Ventures, an organization dedicated to helping vulnerable children around the world. I’ve referenced this trip in an earlier post as well as the fact that I had the unbelievable opportunity to return in May, 2010.

When I returned from my second trip to Zambia, I was more sure that God had more work for me to do there – and that I had a part to play in supporting Hope Ministries. My friends and family (in person and on Facebook) will tell you that I never really stop talking about Zambia and Hope Ministries. I was often trying to get people to sponsor a child or teacher or provide support in other ways. So in the fall of 2010, when Spark announced the Sponsorship Challenge, I thought it was a perfect fit for me.

The Spark Sponsorship Challenge would award a spot (travel & lodging paid) on the July 2011 Spark Transformation Trip to Zambia to the first two people to find sponsors for 20 children. The contest would end on January 15th or whenever the first two peole met the challenge. Since I knew I couldn’t afford to get back to Zambia any other way – and I was already talking people’s ears off about helping Hope Ministries, I figured, why not? I had a lot of hope (no pun intended) going into the challenge. But as I began to see the numbers of other participants quickly rise to 6 while I still only had 1 sponsorship, my hope kind of waned. However, I am the Queen of Dreams, the one who always challenges others to step out on faith and watch what God will do…so I caught my second wind of hope. And I told myself that, if God wanted me to go back to Zambia in 2011, He would make a way. This wasn’t something I said to prepare myself for disappointment, I truly believed it – and still do. (I already knew that He wanted me to go back, just not when…) I received lots of encouragement from all around…but not very many people actually signed up to sponsor a child. Yet, I continued to have hope – because how hypocritical would I be if I didn’t??

Then, today…my Twitter feed broke my heart a little. My dream was over…for now. The challenge had been met – but not by me. So I had my moment of disappointment. And writing about it is helping me to accept it and move on.

The great thing is that (as of this post) there are 34 children sponsored who were not sponsored a few months ago. AND, though it won’t count toward the contest, I’ve got a meeting coming up soon that will result in more children being sponsored. For me, that’s what it’s all about. So, God closed that door – but I trust it’s because He has something else in store for me. And that’s where faith steps in. But like I said on Facebook: sure, God closes one door and opens another…but it still hurts when that first door slams on your finger!

So, now that I’ve had a chance to process it all, I can say with genuine sincerity: congratulations to Josh & Hannah Eloge, who will get to spend their first anniversary serving in Zambia with the children and staff of Hope Ministries. That’s pretty awesome!

P.S. Spark is still taking applicants for the July 2011 trip. If you’d like more information, check out their website or sign up to attend the informational meeting on January 30, 2011. If you’re interested in sponsoring a child in Zambia through Spark, click on this link for more information.

So how do you deal with disappointment?