Don't Let This Dirty Word Define You: Seeing Disappointment Differently


Disappointment. Yeah, that’s the dirty word that has had me stuck in neutral far too many times. It looms over me like a mountain too steep to climb, reminding me of failures in the past and whispering doubts in my already fearful heart.

Do you know that word? After almost 20 years on the mission field in Asia, I have decided that I am tired of it. I call it “the dung of disappointment.” Yeah, “dung” is really a dirty word, too...pun intended!

Recently, Sean and I set aside a day of fasting and prayer for some undistracted time of listening for direction from Heaven. We had some new ministry opportunities on the horizon, and we wanted to make sure we were in sync with the One who matters.

As Sean opened our time in prayer, the Lord immediately began to touch a place in my heart that was quite uncomfortable for me: the place I call “control.” Control is the ugly stronghold I hide behind when I am tired of dealing with hurts and unfulfilled expectations. It makes me numb to feelings of disapproval or failure.

There are times when I have stepped out in faith because I knew I heard from the Lord, but then I am left hanging, and the mockers are plenty and loud... Do you know this place? I hate that place. It’s like standing in dung, or in the pit. Who wants to be stuck knee-deep in cow pies? Well, the Lord is reminding me this evening as I type that leaders are formed when they learn to stand and believe God’s word, even from the darkest, smelliest valleys of disappointment.

As we prepared for our time of prayer, I made a list of questions that I was hoping the Lord would answer. But, when Sean opened our prayer time, the Lord gently and steadily began to touch on the one stronghold that truly had a strong grip on my heart. Ouch. I was cut straight to the heart with his love, and I physically melted into a ball on our couch in the beginnings of a beautiful surrender. I have learned in my adventures with Jesus that he always takes us from one level of surrender to the next as he captures deeper layers of our hearts with love.

There in that beautiful place of surrender, an uncomfortable yet inviting place, Jesus showed me a picture. I was wearing glasses with snakes entwined all around the rims. “Child, it’s time to take off these glasses. You’ve been wearing them for far too long,” he said.

But, these glasses have become part of me. For as long as I can remember, I have been gazing into the future through the lenses of disappointments from my past. Fear has defined me. Doubt has stolen my excitement and joy.

Thinking that I needed to get “to the point” of our prayer time, I again brought my questions for the day to the Lord. But he continued to point only to the glasses that he was patiently inviting me to take off. I spent that whole morning with the Lord in surrender as he asked me to lay down every major disappointing experience that has shaded my walk with the Lord with fear...fear that he won’t come through for me or for the nations that I am contending for.

When our fast was over, Sean and I came back together to share and to pray. “All I heard was ‘It’s time for new glasses,’” I thought, as I waited for Sean to share.

What Sean said next made me leap on the inside. “God took me through the life of Joseph and the disappointments he encountered along his journey to becoming a leader. I feel God is saying that the pits we have spent time in have been refining our character and deepening our faith to prepare us for what he is about to pour out on us.”

Wow. God was speaking to us.

It’s time to let go of our discouragements and doubts. It’s time for new glasses with rims brimming with hope. We won’t be standing in dung forever.


Alice Collier lives and serves in Phnom Penh with her husband and their three children. She helped to birth a school of worship among street children in one of the darkest areas of the city, and is a champion for the children’s prayer movement in Cambodia. Alice leads CRM's Prime Intercession team.