Welcome to Part II of our series on How to deal with disappointments with our guest Julie Loin. Do not forget to read Part I of this series where we talked about the necessity to remain positive, find solutions and especially focus on gratitude to prevent us form going down a dark hole of self-centeredness in the midst of our disappointments. We continue the discussion here.
Bryan: I think there’s a book called in his shadow or something like that. And it’s a true story of a priest who pretended to be a Nazi, so he wasn’t killed and undercover he ministered to tons of people. He gave communion, said mass secretly, converted people even up into the Gestapo. He had to go to do this secret mission, which he probably was going to be killed for. It was this one Gestapo man especially, I think he was number two in command, who was a very mean man. He had to get by him somehow, which was impossible. So he went to the nuns and asked for prayers. They were like: “Don’t you worry about it, sweetie. We will take care of everything. That man he is going to be puttie in our hands.” And he was like: “No offense sisters, but you’re speaking ignorantly. You have no idea what you’re talking about here.” And they replied: “You are speaking ignorant Father. You have no idea about the power of God through prayer.” By the time he got there, not only did he get by the man, but later on that man ended up becoming a Christian and ended up crying and weeping right in front of him. This was like one of the most powerful books I have ever read. The prayers and the conversions that this man did… It is a fantastic inspirational book, and everyone should read it.
Julie: Wow. I have to read that book right now. I’m very much into this time period. So that’s incredible. I can’t actually imagine having faith like that. That’s what I pray for, but I’m so weak.
Bryan: It is a gift.
Julie: It is such a gift and that is something we have to be open to. Faith, hope and love are gifts. They are virtues that God bestows upon us and we just have to be open to receiving them. But I think our world, our society, what we go through, our disappointments, our struggles keep us from trusting that God will provide. I think I struggle with that with my children, that God will provide for my daughter to find a new speech therapist, that God will provide her needs. There is a lot of fears that creep in and we don’t trust that God will provide. We have had a lot of struggles with our pregnancies and Mac being three and a half pounds, we ask ourselves: “Is this our new normal, or are we going to have difficulties in birth?”
And so you have these fears that you hold onto and you don’t trust that God will take care of everything. Regardless of the circumstance, how it turns out, God is working through everything. And if we can just sit back and let him be at work, then we can be at peace.
Bryan: The more we worry, we get anxious, it actually keeps us from trusting. It keeps us from praying. It keeps us from loving God because we really don’t trust him. We are control freaks. Maybe we just want everything our way and it has to be this way rather than trusting that God knows best.
I’ve been trying to give up things up to God. Even in the darkest times that I’ve had in life, really disappointing moments, really just black trial times, difficult times, seasons of the soul where I don’t feel God. I had to say: “God, I don’t know what you’re doing up there but I trust you. My feelings say, I don’t think you know what you’re doing up there, but I know you do. And I trust you. And if I was you, I wouldn’t be doing it this way. But I don’t know anything. I can’t even see three seconds in front of my face. I’m going to trust that you know better.”
And so I try to make all of these acts of faith in God, that I really don’t know and it doesn’t make sense to me why is he allowing me to suffer. Why is he allowing this to happen? Why did we get a dragon baby instead of the perfect baby? Why did I have to go through so much suffering and abuse as a kid?
This could take us away from trusting God, or for me, realizing that I’ve been able to change and influence millions of people’s lives in this world. And I never would’ve been able to do it if I hadn’t gone through those things myself. I could never empathize with other people, if I hadn’t gone through those things myself. I never would have had the deep, powerful conversions and talking people literally out of suicide if I hadn’t gone through that and hadn’t been able to relate to them. God didn’t want those things to happen to me, and he brought good out of bad.
So even if bad does happen to us in life, God can reconcile that, he can redeem that and he can bring good out of bad as if there was no bad to begin with. And in fact, that’s what saint Augustine says: “God, please write straight with my crooked lines,” or, this isn’t exact wording, in a sense: “Please repair what I’ve done badly and please bring good out of bad, so much good, as it’ll be as if there’s no bad to begin with.” And then he says: “I trust you because you are the God of goodness. You are the God who is goodness itself, pure goodness, perfection of goodness.” And you just praise God, like you said, and really put that faith in God. In difficult times we have to do that, and I think that comes only from a prayer life.
If we are not praying and we are not rooted in Christ, we’re going to be rooted in the flesh. And the flesh is just filled with anxieties and worries and stuff of this world where everything’s going to go wrong.
Julie: Yeah. We are Easter people. We are a resurrection people. That’s what we hope for. So even though the crucifixion happened, God created the most amazing thing from it. And so if people look at their crosses and say: “God, why would you let that happen to me?” Well, God allowed it. He didn’t have it happen to you. He allowed it to happen and he’s taking something so great and allowing you now, Bryan, to change so many hearts because of your situation.
I think that’s a hard thing for people to recognize. God, wasn’t like: “Bryan, you will suffer tremendously. You will have these horrible things happen to you.” God allows freedom, free will to happen to us in our disappointments and our struggles so that way he can turn something great from it. He takes the crucifixion, the most gruesome horrific thing, and turns it into the resurrection, which now saved all of mankind.
It is a hard concept because you don’t want to hit that stage or mentality that suffering is great, and all is fine. It is not fine that these things happened to me. It’s hard. It’s okay to be frustrated by them. It is okay to ask God to take it away. It’s okay to say: “I don’t want to do this.” And it’s okay to get angry with God. He’s God. He can handle it. I always tell people: “If you’re going through a hard time and you’re mad at God, let him know, be real with him. God will take your struggles and your sufferings, and he will create something magnificent with it.”
Bryan: You mentioned, having faith in God, being positive and counting your blessings, trusting him. Do you have any other things or ideas that maybe you’ve put into practice to deal with disappointments in life? And some people have bigger disappointments than the puking on someone. Someone married the wrong person and they know they compromised and they shouldn’t have, but they did, and now they’re stuck with this disappointment day after day. And while God can redeem that and bring joy out of it, it will probably take a lot longer. Stuff that we do, that we know is wrong and we do it anyways even though God is telling us not to do it because he wants us to be happy. But when we do it, we are choosing a road that’s different from God. And it’s a road oftentimes of disappointment, suffering and pain, which God will and can redeem, much later. It usually takes a while and it takes a lot more reliance on God.
Julie: You know, that was one of the things Mike and I were talking about last night. He has a coworker whose spouse basically gave up. He basically said: “I’m going to go work on my music. I’m going to quit my job.” And he went into their basement and never left. It got so bad. I look at situations like that. And I asked Mike: “What do people do in that situation? How do they help their spouse?”
Looking at the situation and doing everything in your power, going to counseling, even looking at ways that you maybe have failed. And I think that’s hard for a lot of people. Clearly, your spouse is the one that’s doing the crazy thing. Looking at yourself and saying: “What can I do better as a spouse?” Because you can’t change them. You can only change yourself and look inwardly and say: “God, where am I failing? Where do I need to grow?” And that’s a really painful thing sometimes. And also, asking people for advice on situations like that. Having them be honest with you and finding those friends who will help you seek God in this situation. Finding community in that way is so important.
Bryan: And we’re going to have a whole interview at some point on the importance of community and friendship. You can’t do this alone. It’s really, really difficult. And, it’s going to take a crude, as I say, a village. I know that when we don’t have friends, or we’re just too busy to have friends and we don’t get out, we don’t get to see people, it’s really tough. And having a dragon baby is very difficult because I don’t get to do the things that I want to do. I can’t even do the work I want to do. I like super selfish stuff but I am becoming more selfless. I’m becoming more kind. I’m becoming more loving. I’m becoming a better person. And I’m helping to form a person for the future of society who will be a world changer someday themselves, and who will influence countless more people.
And that’s important to remember. Not to focus on the things we don’t like in life, but the things that are possible in life with God, where we can go, what we can do, what can be achieved with God and how he can redeem any situation. I’ve made decisions that were terrible. And I’m still experiencing the repercussions later because I did my will and not God’s, but he’s still redeeming those. He’s still teaching me new lessons. He’s still helping me to grow in ways I never would’ve before. And he’s still using it to help other people. And so anything in life we can learn from and grow from, even the disappointments.
Sometimes they’re scary. When Sophia got sick when she was a little baby, she had to go to the hospital for two days because she had to be put on the oxygen. We were so scared she is going to die. Or even when Kathy was giving birth, we had like eight nurses rush into the room and they said she’s just unhappy in the womb and I thought: “You liars tell me what’s going on. I’m going to lose the baby.” My worst fears. And for some people the worst fears do come true, and they have absolute catastrophes and horrible things that they have to deal with in life. My wife says all the time: “How do people do it without God?” The more you have God, the more you can hold onto that rock. We need him in these difficult times. We need to cry to him. We need to yell at him. We need to love him. We need to just ask him for his help and praise him and thank him as well.
Julie: If they don’t have that relationship with God, they have to ask God. Because that’s something that he will gift to you, but you have to ask: “God, I don’t believe in you,” or: “God, I don’t have faith in you. I don’t trust you right now. I’m being honest with you. Are you even there?” Those are real conversations to have, that people should not be afraid to have with him. There are so many times I can look back in my life: “Did I really believe in God? Or was I just going through the motions?” And sometimes those motions are okay. It’s okay to keep moving forward and saying like,: “God, are you really there?” And, and as you grow, your faith grows stronger and you’re more solidified in it. But it’s okay right now, if you’re in a doom and gloom place, if you’re in a really disappointed place, if your spouse is disappointing you, if your children are disappointing you, if you’re fearing life, that it’s okay to cry out to God and be like: “Are you there? What are you doing in my life?” I think that’s a really good place to start for people.
Bryan: Before I met my wife, God answered a lot of my prayers. For instance, I would say: “God will provide.” I remember I got lung surgery and I didn’t have insurance. It was like $33,000 and I think $30,000 were paid for. My dad would tell me: “You’re going to get a good job now,” and for me all I would think of is that God will provide. I had the charismatic gift of faith where you just know that God’s going to provide no matter what. But then, since I’ve got married, it doesn’t always work that way. Maybe there are two people and we both need to learn lessons. I remember, my wife and I were struggling financially, and we both lost our jobs and I said: “God will provide.” But day after day, nothing was being provided for. And I was like: “God will provide.” I was just trying to trust in God and eventually, it kept falling down and down till there was nothing left to the point where our bank accounts were empty. We were really struggling, like at the bottom. We were both getting angry, frustrated, worried and panicked and, kind of yelling at God, like: “What’s going on?” So at those times you are convinced that God didn’t provide and he wasn’t there for you. He can’t be trusted. And that is the lie that the devil’s going to be putting in our heads.
Later on, after I gave up, what I wanted, my disappointments and my frustrations, I realized that, I made some bad decisions in life. I knew God was asking me to go a certain way. And I chose to go a different way. I trusted in myself, and I have to deal with the consequences. I’m blaming God for him not coming through when I made bad choices. And my wife did too. We both were very stubborn in some ways, you know? But that’s a hard thing, when God doesn’t come through the way you want him to, it’s easy to blame him.
I found you just have to offer it up. That’s when I started saying: “God, I don’t understand any of this, but I’m going to trust you.” Once I started praying those prayers, it’s like light came back into my life and I could see again clearly. He showed me everything and it all makes sense. I needed to go through these. My wife needed to go through these. We both needed to go through this. We needed to learn these lessons in life. He redeemed me with a lot of life lessons, a lot of joy, a lot of peace.
So I just want to counsel people that if you are struggling to give it up to God and it is really hard, especially if you’re a control freak like me, sometimes God needs to break you of that control, so you realize that he’s in control and that you are not.
Julie: I think parents do that all the time with their kids. We have to teach them to know what is right and what is wrong. How mom and dad fit into it so they’re not little terrors. So we have to break them to some extent, and I think God does that with us too, in the most loving, gentle way he can. But when things don’t happen the way we want, we often too turn into toddlers. So I feel like there are so many times we are like little children coming to God, screaming, yelling. And he is so loving and gentle, he doesn’t fight back at us. He loves us and has the best for us. We can’t see what God has in store and that’s where we have to sit back, like you said, Bryan, and trust. But it is so hard.
Bryan: My daughter Sophia was so disappointed the other day that she started whacking me in the chest and she is only two and a half. She screamed so loud. She knew what she wanted and she couldn’t have it. And then she had to express herself somehow in the disappointment. And I think that’s what we do to God. Imagine if she said: “I don’t like you anymore. I am never going to talk to you again and really pulled into herself.” That’s bad. That’s a really bad place because I’m teaching her life lessons that she needs to know to grow.
God will teach us life lessons, if we trust him too, no matter how much we scream or yell at him. But when we pull away from him and we get into the deep dark place, there is the problem. I want to counsel people: “Don’t go to that dark place and don’t stay in that dark place of anxiety, worry and depression. This is a rabbit hole and it’s a temptation from the devil to keep you from living and to destroy your life. Come back out into the light and give it up to God.”
Julie: One last thing. I did listen to a psychologist talking a little bit about disappointments and frustrations and, oftentimes we just have to get outside of ourselves, go for a walk or start moving. I know when I’m sitting stagnant, my mind is stagnant, and I’m stuck in my scary place of darkness of “woe is me”. And sometimes it’s painful to break from that. It is almost like I’m choosing to do this. So maybe even give yourself some credit that you even went for a walk because sometimes that’s really hard to do.
Bryan: Absolutely. And I think that’s a good thing to get outside of yourself. Exercise or anything that generates endorphins like laughing is very helpful in stressful and disappointing times as well.
One of my biggest disappointments is that I want to exercise more. I want to pray more. I want to do these positive things, but my child is so needy for attention. She can’t even play on her own and it’s a frustration of mine. So, I have to find other ways, more creative ways, including waking up earlier, which is a sacrifice, to be able to do these things. And I’m not even doing them perfectly the way I want to, but I’m going to keep seeking ways to do them rather than just getting angry at her or at the situation, which is easy to do.
If anyone out there is going through disappointments especially with your spouse which is so real, know that they are not God, they can’t fill that God size hole in you. When we want them to love us and give us everything we need, we’re going to be sorely disappointed. It’s only when your heart is filled with God that we love our spouses more and receive love from them so much more. And so many times in marriage, I’ve just had to recognize that my wife can’t give me what I want. I just have to go to God and seek that from him. And I’m sure she’s had to do the same in a vice versa. But when we’re both in healthy states and we’re both close to God and in God, we can love each other more as well, the way we need.
So, I want to challenge people to really try to cultivate that deeper relationship with God. This can be done through reading spiritual readings, the inspirational readings. Do not just watch TV. Do not just fall into the pattern of playing phone games. Do not just fall into the pattern of watching Netflix. Those things do not make you happy. They are just like alcohol. They do not fix the trauma you went through, they just neuter it for a little while, but it’s still there. We actually want to be pulled out of those things and do healthier, better things for us that will make us actually happy.