I was disappointed by someone this week.
She doesn't know me. Once we shook hands, exchanged smiles, shared a meal when she came to speak at my university. But she doesn't know me and she didn't disappoint me on purpose. My disappointment stems more from the heroic ideal of her in my head and less from something she actually did or didn't do.
The truth is, what can you know from a person but what they share with you, in huddled conversations and knowing inflections?
I maintain that I am easy to know, only because if you ask me, I'll tell you anything. But the real truth is that unless you ask me, I won't tell you anything.
Which, I'm afraid, is the real disappointment in all of this.
I'm afraid I go around disappointing people because what they know of me is not what I have told them, but what they have perceived to have been told by me. Whether though my writing, my friendship, my presence or otherwise. And this may be true, I may go around disappointing people more often than I wish. In fact, if I haven't disappointed you, you're probably in the minority.
The thing is, this girl who disappointed me didn't do so by being something other than what she really, really is. She never lied to me. She never pretended to be anything other than another stumbling Christian, fumbling through life with a pen in one hand and a scotch in the other. She never preached anything but what she had lived and was living and I would be a fool to not know how dastardly frightening that is.
My disappointment arose when I realized that what she had lived and was living was exactly what I am afraid of in my own life. The difference is that she'd gone ahead and done something with her life in the meantime.
I was disappointed by a perception of her that proved true: she had lived and was living and telling her story as she went—but the story forked and she took the unexpected route.
Not that route, I silently cheered in my mind, knowing, just knowing she'd do the right thing. Not that route, I dismally thought as the first step was taken toward it. Not that route, I wept, when I heard the news.
It seems there have been a lot of of her recently, smoke and mirrors, guises I build around heroes I love, writing I see myself in. Blogs and twitter and email make us feel all so small, though, so close, so human, so near, so. . . disappointing.
Writers and filmmakers talk about the element of surprise that should be present in every good story, but isn't the strength of the story we're telling with our lives the fact that we know the end of the story? Isn't that what makes the best story? Isn't that why the Story of God is still the bestseller, after hundreds of years? Because we know the end? Because the fork in the road has already been chosen?
Yet I'm still building fortresses of my perceptions, conclusions that will be disappointed yet again because I put my hope in a guess and not in God.
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