A Holy Week Reflection on Disappointment

A W(holy) Disappointing Week

This week I shared three letters that I wrote from the perspective of three different characters from the first every Holy Week. Click here to read Judas, here to read Peter, and here to read Mary Magdalene.

For me, reflecting this past week on Palm Sunday, I kept coming back to this incredible juxtaposition of the emotional high of Jesus coming in to Jerusalem, being hailed as the Long Anticipated Messiah… with what was about to transpire just days later on Golgotha (or even moments later, with the freak out in the Temple).

This incredible sense of disappointment that must have washed over everyone who was close to Jesus.

This devastating sense that everything they thought they knew turned out to be wrong.

Disappointment in Your Own Life

Which I imagine is something you can relate to, yes?

Maybe it’s a job you were just certain you were going to get, but they offered it to someone else.

Maybe it was a relationship you were convinced was going to lead to something greater, yet it ended with nothing but shards of a broken heart.

Maybe you’ve known someone that you loved and admired and deeply respected, and one day they did something or something happened that all the sudden had you thinking, “wait, was I wrong the whole time?”

Disappointment. Comes in many forms. And it has a debilitating power to it.

When what we hope for, or what we expect, turns out not to match with reality.

Three Responses to Disappointment

As I was writing those three letters I was struck by the different responses.

In one case, as with Judas, when he met Disappointment his posture was one of anger and resentment. He lashed out. He fought back. He forced his way through.

Has that ever been your response?

Blinded by your anger or your pain you find yourself just wanting someone else to hurt and to feel the pain like you’re feeling.

Then there’s Peter, who met Disappointment with fear and defeat. He retreated. He turned in to a victim.

Woe is me. Life didn’t go like I wanted it to, like I expected it to, and so now what do I do?

Can you relate to that? Have you ever not had something work out that you were banking on and it just knocked you out of the game altogether?

You retreated, pulled away from people, away from yourself. You gave up a little, and vowed to not put yourself back out there because you didn’t want to experience disappointment again.

And finally there’s Mary. And Mary’s story to me is so profoundly beautiful and inspiring.

She met the same intense level of disappointment that Judas, Peter, and the others faced, but her response was radically different.

She didn’t fight back. She didn’t retreat and shrivel. No, she showed right back up.

And I wonder, can you identify any times in your life where this was your response?

You had great hopes and expectations for something, it didn’t work out, but the very next day there you were again.

Not immune to the pain. Not ignoring the feelings of sadness and disappointment. But vowing to show up anyways.

The Next Right Thing

This is what Glennon Doyle Melton calls, doing the next right thing.” And many times this is ALL you can or should do.

The next. Right. Thing.

For Mary that meant showing up for Jesus trial, his execution, his burial. And then ultimately it meant showing up the day after he died, and you know how that story went, right?

So today if you are in it… if you are fighting the feelings of despair, disappointment, discouragement… If you are tempted to lash out and fight, or tempted to get small and retreat and give up, may you hear an invitation from Mary of Magdalene say,

“no, dear child, promise me you’ll show up. Promise me you’ll do the next right thing, whatever that is, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.”

Because it’s in those moments, when it’s cold outside, dark, and you’re not sure where you’re going, that you just might find yourself, if you show up, in the same place where Mary found herself when she refused to be defeated by disappointment: in the very real and beautiful presence of the Risen Lord who called her by name.


To hear all three letters read/performed click this here link.