Fighting For A Win

By: Dave Paolozzi
There have been two times in my life where disappointment hit me like a ton of bricks. It's mostly based on my expectations for life - God, work, friends, and family. When disappointment hits me in a debilitating way it is usually because multiple things didn't go my way. The way I expected, the way I predicted, or just plan gone wrong. There is a bit of control involved here also, I am sure. In general when one or two things don't go my way I feel a sense of loss of control, but when multiple things go haywire at once then the best way to describe it is I feel a deep sorrow. That is when I know disappointment is looming.

The first time this happened was when I was church planting in Point Loma. It was a deluge of things gone wrong (well, things didn't go my way). It all started with moving to a new place (San Diego) without having a job. It took me 3 months to find work and at that I was making minimum wage which was not exactly in my plan for our budget. So, work was the first thing that was out of my control. The next thing was an escalation of fighting with my wife. The stress of starting a new church, moving to a new area, and not able to pay the bills just smacked us and we verbally smacked each other. It all climaxed one night when I told her I was done and I wanted a divorce. Call it wisdom or stubbornness, either way she basically said no. This was the beginning of doing the hard work of getting through our issues. All through this I felt abandoned by God. After all we were starting a church for Him and His kingdom. Why was this so hard? I will never forget when He spoke to me about this several years later. He said, ”Some lessons can only be learned one way and there are no shortcuts.” The final blow was finding out that our closest friend's son had a rare form of cancer. Having to watch them go through chemo and isolation all the while standing by not knowing if their son would live was devastating. It was hard. I am a natural helper and when I can't help I feel helpless and useless. This sent me into a tailspin that took almost a year to get out of. But I did and I learned a lot about myself. I learned what my trigger points were. Right at the end of getting away from the massive amount of disappointment we left Point Loma for what we thought were greener pastures. Little did we know that we were headed out for more difficult times, but nothing like we had just gone though. That is a different blog altogether.

The second time I have experienced the deep sadness of disappointment is now. It's a powerful feeling to have everything you hoped for wiped away in just a few days. COVID-19. I went from starting the year full of hope, full of goals, full of things I was going to do for the Kingdom of God, to well, nothing. While this did not take God by surprise, it absolutely took me by surprise. It simultaneously changed my plans for life, work, friends, and family. The feeling of control was totally out of my hands and still is. It's hard to plan for anything right now. So my triggers, anytime additional losses happen, it hits me hard. The most recent having to go from meeting outside at church back to online only, combined with loosing friendships over hard decisions. These were devastating blows. Yes, out of my control, but all the more like a punch in the face kind of loss. So, I have to fight for a win every day; things to hope for or things I know will work out my way. Something that I can control the outcome of. (That sounds bad, but it's helpful for me.) I need to put my energy into things I can control the outcome. Things like relationships, landscaping, writing, etc.. I have to do this otherwise the cave of disappointment is a dark place, one that I refuse to enter again. So, you might notice me fighting for a win. It might be a simple thing but it works for me. Sometimes I will pick the opposite of what everyone wants to do, just to see if I can win in that area, or the argument, or whatever. Wins and losses are my new world while Covid has us locked down.

How many more people are feeling this? It's no wonder suicide rates are higher than they have ever been. If you or someone you know is struggling like this, reach out, let's talk. I have been down this road before. It isn't easy to move towards health and no one should suffer on their own. I certainly don't have this figured out but let’s do it together.

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