I know for sure there are many people who I have disappointed. And, there are of course people who have disappointed me. When people fail to meet our expectations it can be disheartening to say the least.  Especially when our expectations have been warranted and worthy.

Because we live in a world where there are no perfect people, people will inevitably disappoint us.  They will say and do the wrong things or not say and do the right things. How we handle these disappointments can define many aspects of our lives.

Here are some things that serve me well in handling those tough moments when people disappoint…

1) Remember, you have been the person of whom another person has secretly said, “Wow, that was disappointing.” Chances are, you didn’t mean to disappoint and may not even be aware that you have. We are imperfect people who live in an imperfect world.  Not everyone who disappoints you means to do so or is even aware of it. So, be careful not to overreact or assume the worst. Depending on the circumstance, it may be very helpful to communicate your disappointment directly to the person.  It’s hard to expect people to meet expectations you haven’t communicated.

2) Don’t look to people to fulfill the deep needs in your life.  Jesus is to be our all and all, not people.  People can’t make you happy, fulfilled, secure, or valuable. These, and many other deep emotional needs can only truly be filled by God. When we look to people to meet needs in us that only God can, we will always be disappointed. Furthermore, we will wear people and relationships out as we try to get them to fill in us what only can be filled by God. People cannot complete us, facebook cannot complete us, and neither can your spouse. Only God can complete you. If you turn to people, relationships, or facebook for your security, worth, identity, affirmation, and value, you will be frequently disappointed and the people around you will be exhausted from the drama.

3) You will probably only have a handful of people in your life that are truly “with” you. There a basically three types of people in your relationship life…   Opportunist, Causist, and Loyalist

Opportunist– These are people who are not “with” you, but rather they are “with” the opportunity you bring to them or represent.  Maybe you have given them an opportunity to be a part of your vision, a staff position, or any number of things. They are with you mainly because of the opportunity you represent or offer. Once the opportunity is gone and you no longer serve as some kind of benefit to them, they will likely not remain “with” you for long. In fact, they were never with you, they were with the opportunity that came with you.  Once you no longer serve as a benefit to them or carry on the opportunity that came with you, they will likely no longer have an interest and move on to other things. Sometimes, they will join up with another person(s) or group who represent a better opportunity. Either way, they are with the opportunity, not you.

This can be very disappointing because we often hope opportunist are really loyalist or at least become them later on. Unfortunately, they often aren’t and never do become them.  That’s why they are opportunist.

All opportunist aren’t necessarily bad people. Not all opportunist are using you. Many of them care about you, but at the same time care more about the opportunity you represent and bring. The disappointment comes when we expect opportunists to behave like loyalist.  The more we see opportunist as opportunist and not loyalist, the less will be surprised and disappointed.

Causist- These are people who are not “with” you but rather they are “with” the cause you share together.  Typically they are against what you are against. Sometimes, they are for what you are for.  Either way, they are “with” the cause, but not “with” you.

The moment you no longer stand for what they stand for or stand against what they stand against, or the cause becomes completed, they will likely no longer have an interest in you and move onto to other things.

The truth is, many people and relationships fit into either the causist or opportunist category. That’s neither bad or good necessarily, it’s just reality. Furthermore, most people will leave our side, distance themselves, or move onto other things in one way or another. Typically, it’s because they were either relationships primarily of opportunity or cause at the heart. When we understand this, it helps us to see and celebrate our relationships for what they are instead of be thoroughly disappointed for what they aren’t.  Yes, we would all probably love the causist and opportunist to be or become loyalist and they could certainly benefit in learning to do so, but that typically is not the case.  This understanding can go a long way to handling the disappointments people cause us.

Loyalist-  These are the people who are “with” you. No matter what you stand for or stand against, whether you are right or wrong, whether you present an opportunity or not. They are with you, above and beyond any vision, cause, opportunity, or alike.

I can count on both hands the people who are loyalists in my life.  Jesus himself during his earthly ministry only had essentially a few loyalists. If you have any loyalists in your life, thank God for them, they are tremendous gift.

Loyalists stand by your side no matter where you are. They believe in you, what God is doing in you, and they want to be a part of your life no matter what. They stay by you when you fail or succeed, rise or fall, hurt or help.

No, these people are not enablers or “yes” people. You can disagree with someone and even disapprove of their behavior and yet still be “with” them. Jesus was often criticized for being “with” sinners… emotionally and physically.  Some of the loyalists in my life have often confronted me, disciplined me, and spoke the truth in love.  In those confrontational moments, I could have walked away, but they didn’t and wouldn’t.

Loyalist are life-timers. Whatever life brings, they are “with” you.

Understand the opportunist is like scaffolding in a building project, they are next to you for a while because of the opportunity you bring or represent that benefits them, but when the opportunity you bring or represent is gone or a better one comes along, they will likely leave your side for something or someone else.

Understand the causist is like a fellow soldier in a mission, they are with you for a shared cause. You either have a shared enemy to battle or goal you desire to accomplish. Once the battle changes, ends, or you change, they will likely either find another cause or continue their cause with someone or something else.

Understand the loyalist is with you no matter what.

To help with disappointment, don’t confuse the Opportunist nor the Causist with a Loyalist. Acknowledge what each of these relationships are so you don’t experience the disappointment that comes with making them into something they aren’t.