There may be a purpose to disillusionment. But you aren’t going to find it in the courts, the media, or in a feel-good podcast. It’s found in the pages of scripture, demonstrated in the lives of biblical characters. Disillusionment is meant to give us a greater and more steadfast faith, just as our spiritual ancestors discovered in the face of exiles, oppression, injustice and even persecution.
Disillusionment is when a person perceives a conflict between their ideals and reality, that cannot be unseen. The turmoil stems from the pain and frustration involved in trying to reconcile this discrepancy, particularly when this ideal has occupied an infallible foundational status.
To many, disillusionment hardly warrants its own unique identity. Isn’t it essentially a more palatable version of offence? This is a common misconception. With offence, the offender is clear and obvious. The scriptural solution is also fairly straightforward: forgiveness. On the other hand, the disillusioned person often struggles to isolate the nature of the offence. And if they do find a party to hold accountable, forgiveness doesn’t dissipate the emotions because forgiveness can’t erase the discrepancy they now see. Their ideals have cracks in them, and forgiveness is only able to relieve a part of the pain associated with the disillusionment. An argument such as “humans can make mistakes” fails miserably in attempting to have the ideal and reality meet an accord.
Recently a friend told me a story about a time when she was being mentored by another Christian lady. The mentor made a very human mistake, but it clearly was unexpected and became a catalyst for a season of questioning. After dealing with the offence, she realised that she had expected Godly leadership to be able to meet her needs. It was a critical time of alignment for her belief systems, were she to continue in Christian communities. Thankfully, she was able to move forward by putting her faith completely in God, and subsequently finding grace for leaders who fall short of the mark.
This is a perfect example of disillusionment. Where a new possibility requires reconciling, and the potential to grow deeper in relationship with God.
So if you suspect that disillusionment is hanging around, here are the top 3 pieces of advice I can give you to begin your journey of healing:
Consider all the various ways in which disillusionment is surrounding your thoughts and feelings. It might be permeating your marital relationship, your kids, your relationship with the church, your relationship with work or ministry, and even your relationship with money. Then endeavour to understand everything you can about disillusionment: why it happens, how it happens, what it looks like, what statements are typical of the disillusioned etc. When you are able to identify disillusionment, it frees you from simply reacting to situations and forces you to consider how disillusionment is influencing your choices.
Your pain and disappointment should not be discredited. You are disillusioned because something hard to digest forced you to take stock of your current belief system (if you have moved past the initial shock that comes with realising that you may have been incorrect). Sometimes we really do need to mourn the loss associated with our disillusionment. Maybe it’s the loss of time. Maybe it’s the loss of a relationship. Sometimes it’s just the loss of the firm foundation on which you built your life, even if that foundation had some serious holes in it. It still provided you with comfort and security for a time. And now it’s gone. So mourn it. It’s okay to be sad about what you have lost.
Once you’ve had a bit of a chance to embrace your sadness, you will need to accept that your disillusionment can only be healed when you decide to take it head-on. Conflicts are resolved by the parties facing each other and confronting the situation. It’s rarely ever resolved by time or distance…although that may have helped ease the high emotions attached to a situation. Your sense of security depends on the reconciling of these loose ends.
It’s entirely possible that more lockdowns will happen. It’s also possible that 2021 will be just as difficult, maybe even more so than 2020. But this year could be the year your faith grows deeper as you face disillusionment and any other future challenge that causes you to question the gaps you see between reality and the ideal.
Article supplied with thanks to Melanie Saward.
About the Author: Melanie is a Christian communicator and author who has just released her second Book ‘Disillusioned – When you get lost following Jesus.’ In this article, Mel explains what disillusionment is and how to deal with it.
Featured photo credit: Shutterstock.com
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