“This isn’t what I thought!”  What to do with disappointment.


For several years I’d had a magical dream of horseback riding through the waves on the ocean shore. Last summer my dream became a reality during our family vacation to the Dominican Republic. 


I grew up taking trail rides in Missouri and Colorado. I even have a “Best All-Around” Cowgirl ribbon from a dude ranch we visited when I was ten years old to prove my horse savvy. When we arrived at the horseback riding facility in the Dominican, I was thrilled that I was able to have this experience with Marshall and my daughters. 


“What a fun, unforgettable family memory for the books,” I thought to myself as we were being paired up with our horses. I was given a pretty chestnut colored horse, with a silky coat. We’ll call her “Ginger” to protect the innocent. 


All saddled up, we began following one after the other, in a single file line, following the Cowboy in charge. We made our way through the tall grass that grows dense close to the beaches. I remember taking in the beauty of the trees, the tickle of the tall grass on my legs and looking back over my shoulder to see the smiles on the rest of the family.


After about ten minutes we came to a clearing, and my horse decided she was not interested in playing follow the leader. Instead, she wanted to be the leader. She lit into her horsepower and my body went flying backwards. I was pulling back the reins, and gripping on tight. I was trying to yell, “whoa, whoa” but no sounds made it out of my mouth.


Imagine my shock, when here I am, a semi-seasoned rider – with a ribbon to prove it – and I was flailing all over the back of this horse. Ginger made it her intention to be the first one. She wanted to be the first one in the front of the line, and apparently the first one back to the stables. 


As Ginger took off, I heard people yelling, “pull back the reins”. “DUH!” I thought to myself. I was. Hard as I could, I pulled those reins back.  Ginger did not pay any mind to my attempts to rein her in! 


Next thing I know, the head Cowboy rushes up beside me and reaches over to try and grab the reins. He’s able to get my horse slowed down and under control. We had made quite a far gap between us and the rest of the riders. Inside I began to panic. I could not see my family. I could not hear anyone.  


The head Cowboy kept hold of Ginger as we slowly trotted along until the others caught up. I sighed a sigh of relief when I saw Marshall and the girls. They looked concerned. I waved and gave them a thumbs up as if to say, “I’m alright, everything’s alright.”


I settled into the saddle and noticed my rear was a little sore from all the bouncing about. Just as I was breathing normal again we made a turn from the grassy area to the smooth beach. “Wow, here we are, this is what I have been waiting for!” I glanced back over my shoulder with a big smile to Marshall and the girls! I was soaking it all in. The beauty of the scenery and the slow canter of the horse. 


Out of nowhere, I was jolted again, and my horse went full throttle this time along the beach and galloping through the ocean’s shore. I was bouncing all over that saddle. This was not a graceful moment. We galloped around the bend on the shore and again Marshall and the girls were left in my dust along with the other riders. 


It took the head Cowboy to come and slow Ginger down again before she would surrender to the control of the reins. This time the head Cowboy was smiling a silly smile and said, “this one likes to run.”


“No kidding!” I said to myself. I shook my head in shock, pain, frustration and panic.


When we made it back to the stables, I climbed down as fast as my aching back side would allow. Marshall and the girls rushed over and asked if I was okay. “That is not what I thought! That is not what I thought it would be like!” They started giggling at me. 


I didn’t say goodbye to Ginger.


I could hardly walk. When I got back to the hotel room I discovered a bruised and blistered  bottom. OUCH! I hadn’t felt that kind of pain in a long time. I couldn’t sit comfortably for a week. 


My vision and my reality were two totally different experiences.   


The gap between my vision and my reality is called disappointment. As I replayed the scene of what really happened I thought to myself, “this isn’t what I thought!”


How many times have you expressed the same sentiment about an experience in your life, “this isn’t what I thought”? How many times have you found yourself disappointed that our dream and vision didn’t line up with our reality? 


What are we to do with this disappointment?


What are we to do with those moments when we walk away blistered and bruised?


I wonder what would have happened if I stopped trying to be in control of Ginger? What if I had stopped panicking and leaned into the experience? My butt may have still ended up bruised and blistered. But maybe not. 


In my mind, disappointment has a lot to do with expectations. I can get so locked in on what I want, or what I expect out of something, or from someone, that I keep myself from enjoying the reality of what is. God has used this episode of Crazy Horse and Stephanie to teach me to hold loosely to expectations and visions in my mind. 


God is at work is us and all around us. And more often than not, life won’t go how we plan, how we intend, how we think because we are not in control. As we let go of expectations the depth of disappointments flee from our hearts and minds. 


I want to share with you some verses that make the claim, “even if”. As you read these verses, let them speak to your heart and ask God to reveal to you the dreams you are trying to control, believing with unmet expectations. May God enable you the courage to let them go.


1 Peter 2:21 (NLT) “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”


Philippian 2:17 (NLT) But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.”


Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT) “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,

    and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails,

    and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields,

    and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  

    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”


For all the “this isn’t what I thought” moments in life, we can still rejoice in the God of our salvation. As we loosen our grip of expectation and dethrone disappointments, God will allow us the eyes to see Him at work…even if.


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