Some of the people I’ve loved and admired the most have let me down. The feeling of being sucker-punched when someone you thought could do no wrong disappoints you is one of the stripes earned on the road to maturity.
But it stings.
In college, some professors I admired let me down. There was a big debate over whether or not jazz band could count as a large-ensemble credit. This presented a bit of a threat to the Director of Bands who was afraid that jazz band would lure good players away from his prized wind ensemble. What ensued was a nasty territorial dispute with students caught in the middle.
It was a messy situation, and I was crushed. Now, I understand the having an advanced degree in music and great professional acumen doesn’t mean perfection.
The firetrucks are coming up around the bend….
When I was 22, the guy I thought I’d love forever came out of the closet. To be honest, I’d had my suspicions for a long time (one day, I will write a short story about this relationship, I swear), but I was still disappointed. It’s still weird to think that the first man I loved romantically might have been staring at guys in their gym shorts while he was holding my hand.
I felt like a fool, it was not fun. But, in the 1980s in our little town, being gay wasn’t exactly acceptable.
I recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone…
Grace means accepting, loving people in spite of whatever it is they do that disappoints you. I think those experiences are what make love grow deeper and more lasting. Loving perfection seems unrealistic and shallow.
Last week, a pastor at an event I was covering told a crowd of people about his road to recovery from alcoholism. Jorge Acevedo leads Grace Church in southwest Florida, now spread over four campuses. Helping addicts heal is something the church is known for nationally, by folks inside and outside the faith community.
Acevedo said he realized one day after discovering his son was addicted to drugs, that his recovery and the 25 years of ministry that followed happened for a reason. “So that I could help my son,” he said.
It hurts when the people we love and admire let us down. The truth is, when people do things that are disappointing, there’s an opportunity to really know them, to see beyond the outer layer of success and politeness.
And perhaps, we start to see where we have let people down and realize our true friends love us anyway. It’s tough to let people inside that facade, but it is what draws us closer together.
Then, one day a conversation with someone who is crushed and disappointed becomes a chance to pay your stripes forward.
Grace is about looking back.