If You Don’t Quit, You Win: Dealing with Disappointment and the Answer You Didn’t Expect

I heard someone say once that a perfect, shiny life is not relatable. So this is me in a moment of vulnerability, sharing something that I am struggling with because I believe that others are struggling with disappointment too. I want you to know that you are not alone and that God has a plan, even if it’s not the plan you had in mind or were hoping for. I hope that this encourages you and gives you the courage to share what you are going through with someone you trust so that you don’t walk through your disappointment alone.

Last year at about this time I was going through the process of fighting off a lot of self doubt and uncertainty with regards to my teaching career. After a lot of praying, confusion, and waiting over the summer, God made it abundantly clear to me that I was made to be a teacher and that He wanted me to continue to teach, specifically at Woodford Academy, even though it would be hard. Long story short, here is what I wrote about what I felt God speak to me about my teaching…

My job is to plant the seeds, not to wait and watch the blooms appear. I will not always see the fruits of my labor right away. There will be hard days and there will be failures, but that does not constitute the calling God gave me as a failure. I may never know the impact I made while here on Earth, but I am called to be obedient nonetheless, and that is what I am going to do!

Around that same time, I was involved in a Bible study in which we were reading a book called “The Armor of God” by Priscilla Shirer. God revealed so much to me through this study, including the fact that I had let the devil define my identity. Specifically, I had let him define my identity as a teacher. I 100% let him infiltrate my mind and convince me of my inability as a teacher, to the point where I was considering quitting and finding another career.

It was a season in which I felt God encouraging me and determining to use me and mold me into more confidence despite all of my insecurities and doubts. I knew that God wanted me to continue to teach and I felt Him telling me that He was starting to prepare me for a tough school year. This is what I wrote…

I know that this year will not be easy, but I also know that God has equipped me with this awareness, His protection, and the tools of His spiritual armor that I learned about in that study to start to rewire my mind to know and believe in what GOD says about me, rather than the lies that satan so badly wants me to believe!

Fast-forward to a year later…otherwise known as now, after I’ve spent the entire school year taking those promises with me and holding onto them on all the days, good and bad to remind myself that I was right where God wanted me to be so that no doubt could seep in and convince me otherwise.

As time went on and the days got harder near the end of the school year (as they do), I started to convince myself that I had been faithful, worked really hard, overcome a lot of challenges, and that God was probably ready for me to move on to an easier teaching job now. I was not going to quit teaching because God made that very clear to me that I was made to be a teacher, but I was ready and dedicated to the cause of finding a school closer to home to minimize my commute time and hopefully find more time to rest each day. So, I started the job search and began to knock on doors…At first I kept an open mind, hoping for a closer job, but knowing that if God asked me to stay at Woodford again that I would. As I hoped for a change, I stayed faithful to the end of the school year, but by the end my “possibility” had turned more into a “guarantee” in my mind. I had resolved that this would most likely be my last year at Woodford. All I had left to do was to persevere and in the mean time continue to look for other openings, apply, interview, and let God work. I wrote on a note card: “A Call to Persevere” with an encouraging verse and message to help me through the last few days of school.

The day that school let out, I received an email back from a school I had interviewed at and got the “We had many great candidates, but it ain’t you” message. I tried to keep in mind that it was ultimately God who chose where I ended up, so it must not be not meant to be. I tried to remain grateful for all the provision and help that God gave me this school year and to focus on that…but another part of me was disappointed. If I am being honest, I felt disappointed in God, but more than that, I felt disappointed in myself for feeling disappointed in God.

That weekend, I carried that hurt with me, trying to shake it, but for some reason I continued to feel really confused and disappointed as I walked into church. I was still confident that God would eventually give me an answer in His timing…to be clear, I was hoping (and very convinced) that He’d give me the answer I wanted to hear…isn’t that funny how sometimes we ask questions and then are disappointed when we don’t get the answer we actually already determined was the “right” answer in our mind?

The sermon was literally titled, “Perseverance”. Immediately, I knew I was about to receive the clarity and guidance I had been praying for for so long, but little did I know that instead of receiving the answer I had already decided, God had different plans. The sermon was all about the story of Joseph and how he had to persevere in order for his character to be produced…which is exactly what I wrestled with for much of the school year…How God was using my trials and hard days to grow me, how He was present and with me, and how I needed to be faithful and obedient to what He called me to do.

The first point of the sermon was that Joseph was disappointed. I remember clearly telling my Mom and Ed the day before that I was disappointed and a “sad girl” because of the no I received from the school I had interviewed at. To be disappointed means to believe that we missed out on something that was meant for us. This hit me because I realized that I was operating in what I wanted and what I believed was best for me, not in what God wanted for me or knew to be best for me, which is what lead to me being disappointed. I had led myself to believe that God wanted me to go somewhere else before He had ever spoken that to me.

The sermon went on and gave the point that “You don’t have to understand the plan to trust that God has a purpose” and that “God is moving while you are mourning”. Both of these hit me so deeply again as I realized that God was moving in my life, it just wasn’t in the way I wanted. It gave me hope though to remember that God does have a purpose for my life, and that even while I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself and confused, God was still present and working, trying to speak to me, console me, and let me know He saw me grieving, but that He still had a plan.

The next part of the sermon focused on the fact that Joseph had to trust. Joseph went through a lot of trials, this one in particular was his being thrown into jail for something he did not do. What’s so powerful to me about his part of the story is that it says in Genesis 39 that “The Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him His faithful love.” So God ALLOWED Joseph to be put into the prison, DESPITE his innocence in the situation, BUT He was WITH Him the WHOLE time. Then the preacher hit me with the real zinger…she said that a good filter to make decisions by is to ask yourself, “How would someone in your situation respond if they knew that God would be with them?” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been singing God praises to the moon for helping me to persevere, for leading me through the school year, for teaching me so many lessons, yet I was ready to move onto an “easier” job. God was so faithful in helping me through and in being with me, just as He was with Joseph through all of his trials, but I was ready to move on. Hard thing done, NEXT.

If you don’t quit, you win. If you don’t quit, you win. If you don’t QUIT, you WIN. These are the words the sermon ended with. Over and over, if you don’t quit, you win. And that was it. As tears streamed down my face and my hands were shaking, I knew what the answer was. God was calling me to stay at Woodford another year. God wanted me to choose the hard thing again. And the truth of the matter is, I am still wrestling with is, but I have chosen to be obedient. My contract is signed and I will be at Woodford next year.

For the last few days, I have been avoiding God. I’ve been sad. I’ve been worried. I’ve been wondering how the heck I am going to do this again for another year. I’m disappointed in myself for asking God for an answer, having already resolved my own, incorrect answer. I am sad that while God has provided me with so much help and so many powerful lessons this year that have grown my faith that I wanted the easy way out and was starting to make my own way, rather than trusting and waiting on God’s plan for my life.

I sit here now, feeling a little lighter having admitted that and having talked it through with some of my closest friends and trusted people. While I know the year will be heavy, God will be faithful again and He will help me through. Now, I will spend the summer resting, preparing my heart, and asking God to line my heart, my mind, and my will up to His because I am not there yet, and I think that is okay. I do not feel like God is mad at me and I actually had a thought yesterday while I wondered if God was disappointed in me for being upset with the answer He gave me and it hit me that He already knew. God already knew that I’d sit in that church sermon and that I’d cry and not like the answer, but He still gave me the answer. He still told me what to do and that gives me hope. It gives me hope that He believes in me, He trusts me, and He sees the future where I can come to accept his will for me and be joyful it in. He is still with me right now, He is not shunning me away saying how could you be upset after all the help I gave you this year? He is right here with me, wiping my tears, saying I will help you through this, just like I did last year. I know it’s not what you expected or wanted, but I have a reason I am keeping you here. I can already see the end. It is not by your strength, but mine. Stay faithful and trust me to provide. I need you at Woodford.

Today I start the process of moving forward and I am beginning by thinking of all that I have learned through this last school year. It has been a year like no other, in the most demanding but also the sweetest way. My co-teacher and I had the most challenging group we’ve ever had, and I am proud to say that despite that, I did ultimately feel peaceful, rooted and confident. I think it would be easy to say that teaching has gotten “easier” for me, but the truth of the matter is that what I’ve realized is that it has very little to do with me and that it has everything to do with the Lord. HE is the one who has taught me, helped me, and refined me. He has helped me through! It has not been easy every day, but it has been fruitful and rewarding, because I was obedient and because God is faithful, loving, and gives us JUST what we need at JUST the time we need it.

There is a story behind each of these lessons…many tears and hard days. But the main story behind each of these is God. A God who daily walked with me, helped me, encouraged me, and gave me just what I needed. Here are some of the things I have learned…

  • How to have peace in the middle of a difficult situation
  • How to re-focus and re-prioritize when I start to get overwhelmed
  • How to be more aware of small moments and things to receive joy
  • How to give myself grace and to know that times of transition are hard and that is okay
  • How to see each day as a NEW, a fresh slate and an opportunity to try again (for myself and my students)
  • How to put myself aside and to focus on serving others
  • How to have a calmness that is not only settling for me, but contagious to others in anxious spaces
  • How to have clarity on those days I feel cloudy
  • How to connect with my students…to share and to be shared with
  • How to truly rest
  • How to accept that I am a work in progress and that is okay
  • How to trust God with things out of my control and to know that I don’t have to have everything figured out or perfectly put together
  • How to see the ability and skills God has given me and to trust His plan and path for me
  • How to trust Him when things start to feel out of control
  • How to lean in and wait for His guidance and prompting
  • How to be okay with waiting and not knowing
  • How to be disciplined and have a routine that helps me to put first things first and to prioritize time with God
  • How to pray each day and how helpful it is to set my mind on God, others, and in peaceful state
  • How to learn to prioritize and ask God what HE sees as most important
  • How to have boundaries and that it is okay and necessary to sometimes say no
  • How to give myself breaks
  • How constant God is
  • How to have community and support, how to ask for help and for prayer, the power of sharing what is really going on
  • How to simplify, because sometimes less is more
  • How to persevere on hard days
  • How to use my words to encourage others
  • How to count my blessings and to see the good in all situations
  • How to prioritize my health
  • How to fill my cup and know that I cannot pour from an empty cup…Sabbath rest is essential
  • How joy truly is a choice and should not depend on what is happening around us
  • How to respond to challenging situations and people with grace, kindness, and empathy to see their side of a situation
  • How to see my students as His beloved children
  • How hard things help us grow and are opportunities to trust God
  • How to find refuge in God and how to ask Him for help on the days I am struggling
  • How stillness and silence are essential to a fruitful walk with God
  • How to face doubts, insecurities, and fears by evaluating WHY I feel the way I do, then replacing them with God’s truth by the help of the Holy Spirit
  • How I’ve been chosen specifically for the place and the children God entrusted me with this year
  • How to have a soft, but guarded heart
  • How helpful Scripture is to teach, correct, and encourage
  • How sometimes a “no” is God opening the door to other things
  • How to choose commitment over mood
  • How to have an eternal perspective and to not get caught up in small matters, but to try to se the bigger picture
  • How my identity is more than my job
  • How to be faithful and that my teaching matters. This generation needs wisdom, they need truth, they need hope, and they need God!

I heard the song below (Firm Foundation) and it beautifully sums up this school year for me and the main lesson that I will carry proudly with me into this next hard school year to give me hope and help as I am at Woodford again. It says, rain came, wind blew, but my house was fixed on God. I’m safe with Him, I’m gonna make it through. Christ is my firm foundation and THAT makes all the difference. A daily walk with God and with other believers can make all the difference, especially when we are going through hard times. When everything around me is shaken, I’ve never been more glad. I put my faith in Jesus. He’s never let me down.

I know that some people will never understand why I choose to stay somewhere that is a huge challenge for me, but I know that God sees me and that He will help me through. I have another year under my belt of being challenged by wave after wave, but standing firm because of the help that God have me. I have a little bracelet that I bought with a wave on it that will serve as a reminder to me of God’s faithfulness to me through hard times. Even when the rain comes and the wind blows, my house will be built on the Lord. I will fail, but He won’t. He is my firm foundation! I’m safe with God, I’m gonna make it through.

And I write this as a reminder on the days when I start to doubt and feel like I can’t go on, that God chose me for these children. He wants me at Woodford, with these students, at this exact time. THAT I am sure of, despite any disappointment I feel right now. This too shall pass. It’s because of GOD that we receive the encouragement, the power, and the desire to continue to walk through hard things, but not just to get through them, but to go through them with peace, with joy, and with intention to live out our purpose and to be obedient to whatever God has called us to do…even when it’s hard and even when it’s not the answer that we hoping for.

2 thoughts on “If You Don’t Quit, You Win: Dealing with Disappointment and the Answer You Didn’t Expect

  1. How to have a calmness that is not only settling for me, but contagious to others in anxious spaces – How joy truly is a choice and should not depend on what is happening around us     I read a devotionrecently that centered on Abraham, Sarah and Hagar; that their failures were, trust,Sarah thought she had the answers and did not submit, Hagar did not trust and ran from conflict…If we believe that God is by our side, we need to listen and have the sensitivity to “feel” his guidance andprompting. Not only is God with us, not only are we heirs and inheritors of the kingdom…..but God is the God that sees us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen!! SO good. It’s definitely a trust issue for me too but I love what you said about God seeing us because He knows our hearts!


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