Friday, November 02, 2012


I think we are all looking for Jesus.

We are looking for something or someone to be there for us, to satisfy deep-down, to meet that vast heart-deep need for love and for reassurance that we are ok and everything else will be ok too.

We look in all the wrong places for him, and so we're always disappointed.

Mostly, we look to other people.

Now I will grant that we are supposed to be like Jesus, and that His living water flows through us to others, and the apostle Paul said, "Follow me as I follow Christ."

But ultimately, we are just us, and we are going to miss it, and we are going to disappoint.

I think about this a lot, being a mom, a minister's wife, a writer, a daughter, a sister, a friend.  People want and expect more from me than I give.  Sometimes, I don't meet their expectations because I'm selfish; sometimes I don't because I simply can't.

Family and friends tend to have a more realistic idea of what I'm capable of, knowing, for instance,  that I can't leave for town without rushing back into the house three times to snatch up things I forgot.  And I am going to forget a lot of birthdays and also messages I was supposed to put on the prayer chain.

But even more I disappoint in spirit.  Anger, moods, obliviousness, selfishness.  I just miss it, over and over.

And then perhaps I will mention that little recent episode when I was speaking to several dozen ladies in a lovely living room and one of them asked, "What are the tenets of the Mennonite faith?"  Now seriously, I should not be out in public unsupervised, let alone speaking to groups of people, without being able to answer this question.  Suddenly my mind was a front-loading washer on the spin cycle, whirring with Genesis, Daniel Kauffman, the Ordnung, I Corinthians, Instructions for Beginners in the Christian Life, the book of James, and Gott Ist Die Liebe.  I could have talked for an hour, but I could not at that moment summarize our beliefs in one minute.

I'm sure I was a disappointment.

But especially, one disappoints as a writer.   I think it's easy for people to project their Jesus-needs onto writers because all they see is these tiny slices of the writer's life, put into words that resonate with their own lives, and so their imagination fills in the rest--this must be someone who is all that I am trying to be, who would truly "get" me, who has it figured out, whose family life is truly healthy, who understands our frame and remembers that we are dust.

And then, oops.  This writer writes a post on April Fools and fools you, and you think, "What??  That's like LYING."

She doesn't respond to the email you send.

She writes that they attended a football game, and you know no true Christian should do that.

She jokes about holy things.

You hear what her child did at EBI one night, and you're deeply disturbed.

Worst of all, you finally get to meet her in person and she's tired and spacey and distracted, and her teeth are crooked, and she doesn't use much Scripture in her talk, and what she uses is from the NIV.

She is not Jesus after all, but that's not what you really think.  You think, "How disappointing.  She's not who she projected herself to be.  How could she do this to me?"

Years ago, when Francis Schaeffer was the John Piper/Ravi Zacharias/Christian guru of his day, I didn't revere him as much as I did his wife Edith, a smart, classy, creative woman.  I especially liked her book "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" which gave me a whole new perspective on turning housekeeping into service and art.

Recently I've run across their son Frank's writings.  Now he may well color and fictionalize and satirize his family life, but I still find myself thinking, "SERIOUSLY, Edith??  I mean, come ON."


And then there was the woman I know who corresponded a bit with Elisabeth Elliot and was greatly helped and encouraged.  Then she got to meet her in person and it was not at all the warm connecting that she had imagined.  Even though she knew her expectations had been unrealistic, it was still very disappointing.

And I think, ok, if Elisabeth Elliot herself can disappoint someone, there will be no exceptions for us mere mortals.

Ann Voskamp writes about this sort of thing and I read it now and then after I gird up my loins and gather my courage, because going over there to A Holy Experience makes me feel like What am I THINKING to go tossing words into the great void when someone is saying it a hundred times deeper and better?

Just being honest here.  Don't get me started on Pioneer Woman.  A hundred times funnier and interesting-er.

Anyway. TMI.

Recently my friend Ilva sent me an email in which she quoted from Courtney at Women Living Well.  Courtney had just met and heard Ann Voskamp at a conference.

Courtney says,
Trust me, I’m a big disappointment in real life.
And so as I sat with pen in hand, ready to receive the message Ann had to share at the closing session of the Relevant Conference – this fearful, weary, wrestling mommy blogger found hope and tears stung as she spoke these words…
“You have been appointed to disappoint so you will point to the one who doesn’t disappoint.”
Did you catch that? It’s my calling!
This is my calling – to be a disappointment to the glory of God!
I am free! Free to be a big disappointment! Because it’s NOT about me – let me point you to who it’s ALL about – Jesus!

She continues with some notes she took about blogging, fame, and Jesus, including:

All the Christian bloggers united are thunder -we are signaling God is about to rain – rain on the wilderness of parched and dry souls. Since Jesus is the rain, we must be thankful people are reading at any blog.

And continues:

And so I conclude, I am but thunder…I pray that when you come here, God rains on your soul. And when I post something unsettling, don’t answer your email (oh the guilt I carry for not answering your emails :( I just feel terrible I’ve disappointed so many in this way) or you meet me accidently in the supermarket (multiple times I’ve met strangers who are readers in stores) and my kids are standing on their heads lol!…I will remember I am but dust…you can’t expect too much out of dust (as Sally Clarkson says).
And I am learning to make peace with my new identity.
“I’ve been appointed to be a disappointment so I can point others to the one who will never disappoint.”
It’s my honor to be a disappointment to the glory of God!

(end of quote)

I am still wrapping my head around that.  I like it, it's comforting, it's challenging.  I'm just not quite sure how it works.  How exactly do I point people to Jesus when I disappoint them, especially if it's inadvertent?

But still, an amazing concept.

And this is certainly the truth: the only one who will always be there for you and understand you and satisfy the deepest longings of your soul is Jesus.
 Quote of the Day:
"I felt so. . . in the presence of, almost . . . ANGELS."
--a guy who met my children in town and called to tell me about it.  Yes, he would be disappointed if he spent more time with them, but it would be good for him.


  1. 'and' if I'm 'not' disappointed......?? Have you failed?~~Pauline Martin

  2. Ruthie Schrock11/02/2012 12:01 PM

    This is a wonderful post. It's all about focusing on Jesus, and for His glory.

  3. Superb! I think if I'd meet you at the grocery store I would be more worried when I walked away, that I said something stupid.
    We all moan and cry when we see someone else can do things better than us. It just sat through a wonderful Sunday School class and was so jealous that I could not teach like that. I read blogs and wish I could explain my feelings as well as others.
    And now I am in a dither, to delete this comment or post it. Life is hard! Ha ha.

  4. I know you weren't looking for this, but I just want you to know: I've read Ann Voskamp and Pioneer Woman and given up on them, because they make me feel like I could never live up to their standards. But I still read you faithfully, because you come as across as a real person. "Messy people are safe," someone said to me in a time of deep, deep pain, and it's the best compliment I've ever received.

  5. Well said Dorcas. I really enjoyed this one.

  6. Thank you for your honesty! I needed this today more then you could ever imagine.
    God bless,

  7. Pauline--if you're not disappointed, it's probably because you never looked for me to give you more than I was meant to give.
    Thanks for all the comments. Lydia Jo, glad you chose to keep the comment, :-)
    Jenn--"Messy people are safe." I get that.

  8. If messy people are safe...I'm one of the safest people around.
    BTW I love to read your posts, you just make me laugh cause you can pull the "plain" background out and we can laugh at ourselves...
    Don't think Pioneer woman or Jen Hatmaker can do that.

  9. Kathryn Martin11/03/2012 10:19 AM

    I know what you mean about people searching ,going from one thing to the next,just knowing that the next 'thing' is going to do it for them. I've found that true fulfillment comes from having a relationship w/ God no.1,& fufilling my place in the home no.2.Not that I always do it perfectly-just ask my kids!

  10. I liked this blog very much. I've read some of the others' blogs you mentioned but didn't stay with it very long. Sure they're good but your writing leaves me with a "yeah that's how it is, exactly" feeling and wondering why I couldn't put it into words. You capture what we really feel and think.

    Mary H

  11. Dorcas,I always look forward to what you have to write. This last is a 'classic'!!:-) Many times I have listened to preachers, and wondered: "why can't I preach like that?" I wanted to crawl under the bench!!!You are so right, only Jesus can fully meet our needs!I sometimes say: "we live with a holy discontent--as long as we are on this side of heaven!!"Keep writing--you are for real!!!

  12. Thanks for your transparency. I personally know an author and she struggles with the same thing. I think we set ourselves up for disappointment if we expect perfection from any human. We are what we are only by the grace of God. Authors and blog writers are to be commended for allowing God to use their talents to point others to Him. Keep up the excellent writing. God bless you.

  13. It's interesting...this idea of disappointment. I've always thought I might run into you at Winco or thereabouts, and I would love to, but I've wondered if you would be disappointed once you met me? Oh well, that will not stop me from looking for you, and hopefully I'll make it to a book signing sometime. In the meantime, you don't disappoint me with your honesty.

  14. I like what you have to say. People often disappoint us. We are looking for perfection in others, but we want them to be understanding of our faults. Only Jesus can fill emptiness in our lives.
    I especially like the advice at the beginning to your daughter about boys. Too many young and sometimes older girls think that a man will solve everything. It just isn't that way.

  15. Hi, I have a sister in OR. I think she goes to your church. :) Esther married to a Wolfer.
    I want to say that I like your writings more than Ann Voskamps. She is a very deep thinker, but if she could put her thoughts into more of a physical setting, I think it would stick better. Yes, she might be deep and spiritual, but you are such a blessing when you talk about ordinary things, we can all relate to that!!!!
    And don't get me started on Pioneer Woman!!! She uses some very colorful speech, but she knows almost nothing of sanctification. I like her recipes, but her blog on Sausage, Gravy and Biscuits is rather hard on the ears!!!! I cringe at her crassness. So take heart, yes we may not be everything to everybody, so true. But on the other hand you are an inspiration to me!!!!!
    Brenda W

  16. Oh, you took the part about the girls longing for boyfriends out. I thought your daughter's observations were so astute and wise beyond her years!

    Our pastor used to include a letter to new members of our church stating that they will be hurt and disappointed, and to expect that.

    Very well said, Dorcas. I really needed the affirmation of this just now. Thank you very much for your timing--God's timing!!

  17. Just had a reader/friend recommend your blog. Love it!! Thanks. I SO understand. I'm a writer/speaker/teacher.


  18. Oh,Dorcas, this is good! Thanks! We do disappoint, we can't help it, and when others disappoint me, I need to remember that they too are human, and so they will also disappoint. ..."Love covers over all wrongs" Prov. 10:12 (NIV...gasp!) :-D

  19. Dorcas, THIS is why I've always loved your writing. And you know what? If ever we met, I'm sure we'd be mutually disappointed. That's okay, because when God looks at both of us, He sees Jesus.

  20. Thanks, all, for the lovely heartening words. I'd love to meet every one of you in the grocery store. :-)