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Dealing with Disappointment:  The Epic Adventure of Emotion
By learning to weather the storms that are sent your way, you can turn life’s battles into victories of spiritual growth.

Our teen years are some of the most dramatic of our lives. We finish high school, say goodbye to lifelong friends, and chart a path into the future.

As we settle into our tastelessly decorated dorm room or white-walled box apartment, we are faced with new friends, new experiences, and the challenge of charting the college years in faith.

Our epic adventure is before us!

But what happens when the textbooks piled on our desk begin to crowd out real life, or when it turns out that lifelong friends are not so lifelong? When a hopeful relationship turns sour, or when your new spiritual life doesn't seem much like an adventure?

Don't sweat it! You can make the best of your late teen years and college life. By learning to weather the storms that are sent your way, you can turn life's battles into victories of spiritual growth.

If "E" is for Effort, why did I get an "F"?

I was never "into" high school, but when I landed at Bible College, I was really in the zone. I remember the first time I got a bad grade. I was crushed, and it took a while to bounce back.

We must always keep in mind that grades are just grades. They are not evaluations of our self- worth or a life sentence of failure. Even at a Christian university, marks tell us little about our spiritual lives.

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We may face other discouragements as well: getting rejected from a college, getting wait-listed for a program, or dealing with difficult teachers. But remember, we find our worth in God's love for us, not in the world around us.

"D" is for Dating

From the bestselling I Kissed Dating Good-bye to speed dating clinics, there is no shortage of relationship opinions from so-called "experts." Even with all the good advice out there, there is no magic formula for finding the right person.

Getting lost in the "Dr. Phil Aisle" at your local bookstore can be a big mistake. Much self-help advice treats getting a partner like a goal — as if your future 'honey' is some kind of object. If you treat your dates as real human beings, as God calls us to, you may experience discouragement, but you'll be more likely to connect with your true love when the time comes, and less likely to drown in false expectations.

So, how do we battle our emotions in a healthy way? Here are some ways to "be content in every situation" (Philippians 4:11-12).

Putting the Bible back in Bible College

Strangely, sometimes students at Christian universities pray and read the Bible less than they did in high school!

Your teen years are foundational. It is essential that you continue to experience God's loving presence in your life. Acts 2:42 teaches that reading the Bible, praying, and engaging in Christian community are indispensable ways to keep your faith vibrant and impervious to crushing disappointment.

Stuck in a moment?

Like the U2 song, we can't afford to get stuck in a discouraging event forever. Talk with your trusted friends or pastor about the struggles you are facing, trust in the Holy Spirit, and move on — as Philippians 3:1 2- I 4 says, "Press on" to what God has for us. Besides, you'll look silly if six months after the break-up you are still in your room listening to "Unchained Melody," crying over a picture of a two-week long romance.

Outlets and Inspiration

One way to explore God's calling on our lives and recycle setbacks is to find a creative outlet.  Music, art, writing, sports, social projects, travel — all are great things that move us beyond the moment into exciting, different worlds. Who knows, you may find you have more in common with Picasso than politics, and your hobby becomes a new, adventurous life path.

Through everything remember, there are going to be struggles in life. But we have resources to turn those disappointments into great works of God in our lives.

Originally published in Living Light News, New Horizons, 2007.




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