Confessions of a Seminarian #3: I’m disappointed.


As a life long Oakland A’s fan I’m accustomed to disappointment.  Every year I set my expectations high hoping that they’ll vindicate my years of faithfulness as a fan.   Almost every year I’m disappointed by their mediocre performance.  Today they lost their 7th straight game.

Sometimes I feel the same way about life.

One of the goals of being in Seminary is that after we’re done we’ll be better people and more equipped to help other people be better.  We study the history, theology, language, literature, and the ethics of the movement of Christ all will the hopes that we will be able to lead this movement into the future.  When we’re graduated and are established in our perspective leadership roles we’re supposed to be able to teach people, lead people, counsel people, serve people, and answer people’s questions.  We’ve got big goals and high expectations.

Here is my confession.  After my first year of seminary I have more questions than answers.  Don’t get me wrong, even amidst all of the deconstruction of the faith I’m more drawn to Jesus and his movement than ever before.  It’s just sometimes I get disappointed that things don’t go the way I hoped they would.

I’m disappointed with myself.  I absolutely relate to Paul’s words, and Dustin Kensrue’s paraphrase:

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is so weak
I wanna kiss your lips, but I kissed your cheek ”

Even after all these years, I’m still incapable of fully living the Christian life.  My heart longs for intimacy with my Creator, but I sometimes still feel distant.  I still make mistakes.  Why don’t I have this thing down yet?

I’m also heartbroken and disappointed by others.  Many of my friends who used to be Christians don’t seem to care anymore.  I don’t get it.  The hardest part about it is that they often don’t let others in.  It’s hard when you used to have a friendship that was centered on something, or someone, and now they don’t believe in that someone.  What happened?  What has drawn them away from this someone that we used to love so much?

All of this leaves me feeling disappointed.

I guess I’m worried that I’ll become jaded.  Even though I’m hopeful for a better future and hopeful for people to be better people, sometimes everything disappoints.   I often disappoint myself and fall short of being the person I want to be, and other people often disappoint me when they stop caring about their faith.  I know that I can be a better person, I know that my friends are more amazing than they know, and I know that the world can be a better place.  Why then can’t we seem to meet our expectations?

The silver lining in my periodic disappointment is that I’m reminded that it’s not about me.  Ultimately it’s not me who is responsible to change myself or change other people, it’s Jesus.  His costly sacrifice is the only thing that can actually change things.

Disappointment, if held and considered with humility, can be a great teacher because it reveals to us that we are incapable of actually meeting our expectations; we need help.

As a follower of Christ I believe that it is our calling to believe in ultimate redemption and hope even amidst our disappointment.  It’s just really hard sometimes.

The irony is that in Christ, our hope is found in the midst of our disappointment.  It is only through the death of our Savior that our disappointment meets it’s match.  And without the disappointment of the cross, the brilliant hope of resurrection is not accomplished.  Ultimately, hope is the bravest reaction to disappointment because it challenges us to believe that things will get better, that resurrection will come.