When People Let You Down
Melanie Chitwood

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:8 (NASB)

Disappointment feels like a heavy rock sinking to the bottom of my spirit. I've felt disappointed in many situations – a business opportunity that didn't pan out, a writing door that didn't open, and a relationship that broke my young heart.

The heaviest disappointments for me, however, stem from people. And not just any people; people who I'm closest to. People who turn out to be not at all what I hoped they'd be, or not who I thought they were.

I know I'm not alone in wondering how to deal with people who let me down. Just this week a friend said with a choke in her voice, "I wish my mom and I could be closer, but I don't think we ever will be." Another woman said with despondency, "My husband and I just don't talk." I've heard the edge of bitterness in women's voices as they vow never to trust again because of a friend's betrayal. And most of us have swallowed the hopelessness that comes with a broken heart, "I thought he was the one."

I've tried different ways to handle disappointments in relationships. One way is to ignore the disappointment, to shut it in a box and hope the lid holds. Another way is to gloss over it with a quick statement such as, "People will let you down, but God never will." True, but does this really help me process the hurt?

One morning in my quiet time I was pouring out my sadness, anger and disappointment about a close relationship. As the tears slipped down my face, I begged God to show up. What do I do with all this? Show me and I'll do it because what I've been doing is not working.

Clear as a bell ringing in my spirit, Jesus said, Grieve.

Really? I questioned. I remembered that Jesus knew all about disappointment – Peter's denial, Judas' betrayal, and the disciples falling asleep during His anguish before His crucifixion (Matthew 26). I remembered people in the Bible who were well acquainted with people they loved letting them down, such as Joseph or Job. I felt reassured that Jesus wouldn't misunderstand my sadness as a lack of faith.

So I cried, feeling every ounce of the disappointment. I told God all the things I wish were different about this relationship, all the things I thought this person had done wrong, and what I wish this person would do differently.

After the winds of grief subsided, I was done. Grieving was the bridge I had to cross to move beyond the disappointment. On the other side I found myself in a place where I could embrace the relationship for what it is, not what it's not.

On the other side of grief lies a place where we can consider how to respond to the person who disappointed us. There are a number of possible responses. Sometimes we need to talk to the person or get godly counsel. Other times we may need to create healthy boundaries, or we may need just to let it go. Only after we've allowed ourselves to grieve, however, will we know how to respond to this person in the way that God wants. Then the words, "People will let you down, but God never will," will be truly comforting, not just empty words.

Dear Lord, I'm so thankful that when it feels like no one else understands, You do. You understand about being disappointed in people but You loved them in the midst of that. Lord, I want to follow Your example. I'm thankful You know this sadness is a part of healing from the pain of disappointment. Give me guidance in handling this -I trust that You can bring good out of this. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Melanie’s blog What Matters Most

Struggling with disappointment in your marriage? Consider Melanie’s books What a Husband Needs from His Wife and What a Wife Needs from Her Husband

The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sarah Zacharias Davis

Share in God’s grace with our free resource, Just a Little Heart Cleaning

Application Steps:
Be honest with yourself as you consider someone who has let you down. Have you grieved over the disappointment? Take time to be alone, to be sad, and to cry if you need to. Let go of bitterness, anger, hurt and unforgiveness. Then ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment about what to do next in this relationship.

Have I unsuccessfully tried to deny that I am hurt or angry by this disappointing relationship?

Is it possible that I've depended on this person more than God?

How does God what to use this disappointment in my life?

Power Verses:
Psalm 42:11, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (NIV)

Psalm 94:19b "When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up." (MES)

Lamentations 3:23, "…Great is your faithfulness." (NAS)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Unknown said...

God is so good...

This topic has been on my mind for the last three days, and I kept thinking as you've said, "I'm immersing myself in the Word, I know God is good and will get me through this, why isn't this working?" I have a lot more emotion on the subject than I have words for at the moment, but I just wanted to articulate how SPOT ON this was, if only for me when I needed it. Thank you.

<3 in Christ,

Anonymous Cynthia said...

Ireally needed this today, if not yesterday.I had a great disappointment come yesterday evening in the "soul harvesting" category. I don't think I am ready to "grieve", cause I'm not giving up,)(even if I feel like crying @ the moment)but, I am going to keep the faith, and keep on praying for them.
God always has perfect timing!

Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for this, this morning... So what I needed to read... Blessings to all :)

Blogger Melanie said...

thank you for reading ladies,i prayed for you this morning.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Sooo sooooo true. Just what I needed today. My exact train of thought. We especially don't expect our "christian friends" to hinder or burden us and when they act so un-christian like it is so hurtful. I know it is not them, but the devil trying to divide us. We need to remember where this behavior comes from and despise the devil for it! Trust and acknowledge that God will make our paths straight!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was great for me this morning. I just always smile, when I am praying about something and then God answers with a devotional that is just what I need to hear. God is always faithful, pointing the way we should go. For me I just need to let the little minor disappointment go. Letting what other ppl think, affect me, is just the devils way of weaseling his way into my heart. May God stick like glue to all of us today:)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many times I have had friends that let me down in one way or another. Just this week I was really upset with my husband becuase he just did not see what I saw in a situation. I know now that I must get in a quiet place with God and let the Lord heal the hurt inside. Thanks for the devotion. I trully love coming to Proverbs 31 each morning before I go to work, and the words in that devotion for the day stick with me.
Again Thanks

Blogger Wani said...

Really good post. But I have a question... what do you do when someone disappoints you constantly?

Blogger Kim said...

Wow, how powerful. And how needed to be heard. Thank you. I've read this over a few times now. Still soaking it in. Grieve, you say? And let the Lord heal my heart. Might just have to try that one :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Melanie. It truly is amazing how many of us needed to hear these exact words. I've been grieving over the sudden loss of one of my best friends - she had an affair with my husband. I've definitely got the grieving part down, and have reassured myself with the exact circumstances in Jesus' life that you wrote about. But, now am struggling with what it looks like to really forgive, and mean it in my heart. I've forgiven my husband, who is a changed man, praise God. But, I'm in a world of constant reminders of my friendship with this person, so I'm always reminded of her, and her betrayal. I actually miss her. But I miss the person I thought she was, which is hard to accept the relationship for what it was, and not what it isn't.

I won't drag on. But, perhaps you could address in the coming days moving on from grief to forgiveness and all that entails. I know God will lead me to that in His timing. But I feel like I'm in a waiting period that I have no idea how long will last before I get "there."

God bless you - thanks for your work.

Blogger Melanie said...

I like one comment of "stick like glue," I think I'll pray that God's healing with stick like glue to me today.
One question, what do you do when someone let's you down constantly? Well... it depends on the relationship. Obviously, if it's marriage you would have to navigate it another way than you would if it were a friend. I would just keep praying about it and asking God to give you guidance. If it's a friend, you may need some healthy boundaries. In generall the book Boundaries (available at P31) has helped me with that.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This devotional came right on time! God knows how to speak to His children. I am currently dealing with disappointment felt in a relationship with someone I felt I would spend the rest of my life with. After weeks of not talking on his part, I've felt a great deal of disappointment. After reading this, I know God will ease my heart and see me through this time.

Be blessed!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is amazing how God meets our needs. I have been dwelling on a disappointment. This devotion reminds me that God will always provide the wisedom that I need.

God is good!


Blogger Tracey said...

I have been fighting back the tears over a situation with a friend. The hard part about it is they don't even know anything is wrong. I will grieve and then I will pray about what my next step will be. God is always good to give us what we need when we need it. Thank you for allowing Him to use you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this! I recently found out about a person who I respect and love saying things untrue about me--assuming things about a situation. Very hurtful but this was just what I needed!

Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for this devo. I am currently facing many aspects of my past and am now realizing the importance of grieving, of feeling the hurt,the pain, and the sadness. With God's amazing love and grace I can make the decisions I need to make in the face of each circumstance. I moving, but not there yet. God is good, God is great, and He never disappoints. Thanks for this and your prayers.

Blogger Melanie said...

I am praying for each one of you, hoping that your heart leads each of you to Jesus. I esp. have "anonymous" on my heart, who shared about her best friend's betrayal with her husband. I can't even imagine. I will continue to pray for you and try to address forgiveness in the future.

Anonymous In2thLight said...

I recently put this on my status updates on my homepage for Beliefnet.com and it has come in quite handy for handling some stressful times. It's quick, it washes over like a white light bath and helps to bring back to the calm we need to get through the stressful times.

Eph 4:31-32 Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives...be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving, just as God has forgave you because you belong to Christ

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Precious Sister,
Thank you for this timely devotional. God has used your experience to show me and others that HE hears and sees every moment of our lives and that HE is close as the mention of HIS name.

Blogger Unknown said...

How timely this has been. I have been at the culmination of SUCH a struggle. Not really knowing how to handle things. How amazing that this post comes now. Thanks so much!

Anonymous Stacy said...

Wow...have I ever needed to read this. After 12 years of marriage, my husband and I separated this summer. He truly became a man I didn't know. He lost his job over a year ago, and really didn't pursue trying to find a new one. Just did what he had to get his unemployment check. Though over the past several years I really saw him changing and not for the better. He would hardly ever come to church with our son and I. When he lost his job, he quit going at all. He started staying up all night and sleeping all day. He started sleeping in the guest bedroom and many a nights I would wake up to find him gone. He didn't help out with my son or help me around the house. He wanted nothing to do with the finances. We went to counseling with our Pastor for a month, and didn't try there either. Finally after God waking me up in the middle of the night to find him on the phone with his father and every other word was a curse word and I heard GD many times, the Lord let me know it was time for my son and I to leave. Since we've left, he's not tried to change things, he even let him family move in while I was moving my stuff out. His family always came before my son and I. I also ended up having to file bankruptcy because the lack of his income, and I didn't make enough on my teachers salary to be able to pay everything. So not only did I lose my husband but my home as well. Anyway...I've had a lot of anger and resentment. I think I'm past that now I know I just need that grieving time. This devotion was just what I needed. Thank you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I didn't get to read this until Sunday evening, but the timing was perfect. Had I read it Thursday, it wouldn't have been applicable. I find myself in a hurtful situation over and over with a particular family member. While trying to honor them as we are commanded, I find myself the brunt of alot of hurtful comments. Even after all the years of it happening, it hurts just as much each time. I have tried to forgive, "take the high road", all of those things, but I think this is what I needed. I need to grieve over a relationship that is not what it was years ago, and let God show me what it is now and how to work with it as it is in the present. Thank you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you -- this is so meaningful! I wish there was a share button, so I could email this to a friend who's hurting!!

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