When You Don’t Get What You Want

How you handle yourself when you don’t get what you want speaks volumes about your character. These are the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, and this was the day I was supposed to be on top of The Grand. It snowed that day and we had to abort our hike up to base camp. I so wanted to get up to the top of that mountain, but the weather did not cooperate. This trip occurred right after I came out of my depression…a departure from the woods of anxiety. During those two and a half years I didn’t yearn for much, just not to feel crappy any more. I longed to climb The Grand. It was one of the few things I had longed for during a period where my heart had been frigid and was just thawing. This once in a lifetime opportunity crushed. I’ve never been back to the Grand Tetons since.


I could be angry or choose something else. There are several moments from that week that I remember vividly, including a deeply encouraging and healing conversation with my boss at the time while on the trail. I could have missed out on something great by being angry and stewing about it. Oddly, I could have missed out on something great if we made it to the top of The Grand. I wouldn’t have taken this photo, that is for sure…or many other breathtaking moments that week if plans stayed as is. Sometimes our heart needs to stretch to embrace the unexpected, even if it verges on disappointment.

Sometimes the shadows fall on a dream or once in a lifetime event. We don’t get to accomplish the thing we hope for. Disappointment is a heavy weight. Too heavy for me. But it’s impossible to avoid disappointment at some point. But we always have the choice about how to handle ourselves when life doesn’t cooperate. You can stew about it and feel the weight of disappointment, or you can see it another way. We can look for the silver lining in what we do get to experience. We can consider that the journey was as much a part of the experience as the destination would have been. I had four mornings and evenings with this view instead of only two if we climbed The Grand. I can’t believe I got to live four days with that view. It’s all a matter of perspective.


“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” So it says in James 1:2-4 in the New Testament. I choose that! The challenges, the trials, the world not cooperating with my plan…all that stuff is a sheer gift. I happen to enjoy an unexpected gift. So the next time you don’t get what you want, consider it as an unexpected gift that provides a different and unexpected blessing.

Photos shot on slide film, Canon A2, 2005


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