“So how do you manage the gap between the chatterbox’s claim that you can’t and God’s insistence that you can?
Some choose to pretend it doesn’t exist. When faced with a disappointment, they deny its effects and pretend everything is fine. But nobody is immune to discouragement. And if all you do is hide the symptoms, your hope still dies. It just dies silently.
Ignoring the gap won’t produce transformation. It will only postpone the reality of frustration, allowing it to pick up momentum. Then when the frustration finally hits – and it will – it will be devastating because it wasn’t dealt with in a realistic yet faith-filled way.
Others, instead of ignoring the gap, give up in the gap. Sick of being let down, they simply lower their expectations to the level of their experience. And then they start to live by mantras like “Well, I’ll hope for the best, but I expect the worst.”
Something goes wrong, and their auto reply is “Story of my life.”
Giving in to discouragement pacifies your disappointment – at first. Then you realize the pacifier is poisonous, because as believers, when we lower our expectation to the level of our experience, we factor God out of the equation. Instead of looking for His favor in every situation, we begin to anticipate the outcomes we dread. And since much of our experience is regulated by the level of our expectation, we begin to get what we were expecting. And we’re not surprised.
It’s the chicken and the egg. Which came first? The lowered expectation? Or the lackluster result? (Does it matter? Either way we’re hopeless.)
Ignore the gap. Give up in the gap. I’ve done both. And both backfire every time.
I want to train myself to do what John the Baptist did: I want to learn, more and more, to allow God to fill the gap.
John took his disappointed expectation to the only One with the authority to appropriately address it. That’s a great example for us to follow. Few of us will suffer the kind of persecution John did. But that doesn’t make our frustrations any less acute. It doesn’t make our real-time, real-life disappointments any less pertinent.
My father-in-law has a great line he used to tell Holly all the time. He wanted to make sure she set her standards high and held out for the right man. Obviously, this was a successful campaign. Anyway, he’d tell her, “Holly, there’s only one thing worse than being single and lonely. And that’s being married and lonely.”
He was trying to help her see that, in marriage, expectation and experience can be as far apart as the health benefits of kale chips and Doritos. He wanted her to understand that it’s not just unmarried people who feel frustrated.
When you expect to get married by a certain age, and it doesn’t happen, it can be devastating to your expectations. Often this is because the expectation we place on marriage is a faulty one. The wedding day is, after all, supposed to inaugurate an era of contentment, harmony, a shared Netflix account, and total-life happiness. You had me at hello, and now you complete me.
But it’s not quite like that. When two incomplete people come together, expecting the other to make them whole, the result is not wholeness. Instead the marriage creates a shared brokenness, which results in resentment and misery.
Holly’s dad was trying to raise a daughter who not only would have the right expectations but also would place her expectations on the right person – Jesus.
In fact, both of Holly’s parents worked very hard to teach her what it meant to be complete in Christ. That’s one of the things I found most attractive about her when we were dating. She was the kind of girl who let God fill her gaps.
Allowing God to fill your gaps means refusing to pretend the gaps don’t exist. But it also means refusing to attempt to fill the gaps in ways – or with people – that can’t get the job done.
Only God is big enough to fill the gap. ”
This message is from Steven Furtick’s book, Crash the Chatterbox (surprise, surprise). I promise I’ll try and stop quoting it, but it’s just SO GOOD. Please go get yourself a copy, even though I’ve basically shared the whole thing with you. 🙂 It’s still worth it, I promise!
About those gaps…what do they look like for you? What do you try and fill them with?
-Discontented thoughts lead me to un-productivity, and a stupid amount of social media scrolling (hence, un-productivity) .
-Discouragement in myself gets stuffed with unnecessary phone calls and text searching for encouragement. Also, I’ve realized I crave naps when discouraging chatter strikes. When I’m discouraged, it’s often because I haven’t met the unrealistic expectations I’ve set for myself. (Ahem, millionaire by 25 – stupid, but was once true)
This book really opens my mind and helps me realize how and where the chatterbox takes over. It has ways to combat the chatterbox, and guidance on how to hear God’s voice above all the others. It’s a must-read, you guys.