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Dancing on Disappointment

Can I be honest? Toxic positivity makes me want to puke. Maybe you're not familiar with the concept of toxic positivity? In my own words, it's positivity that tries to squash real emotions. It's "It'll all be fine" when you need "How can I help you?" "Everything happens for a reason" instead of "Do you want to talk about it?"

I'm in a season where everything isn't "fine." Work is hard. Relationships are hard. Politics are hard. Hope deferred is hard, hard, hard. But literally, even as I write that, that toxic part of my positivity brain whispered "It could be worse!"

Sure, it could be. But it's also really hard right now. And that's okay.

As a Christian, I've seen a version of toxic positivity that is deeply rooted and dangerously poisonous. It is a shallow substitute for hope. Scripture is filled with lament. The psalms overflow with tears.

All of this is background for what happened to me at church a few months ago. As we sing the opening line of one of the worship songs, I felt a huge lump form in my throat.

Let the heroes rest Let the striving cease

Rarely do I focus on resting. The hardest part of the adoption process has been the long months since we finished our home study. I am good at striving. At checklists. But the day I turned in that last form, my striving ceased. And it made me uncomfortable at best. Angry on my worst days.

And then the chorus.

You taught my feet to dance Upon disappointment and I I will worship

Disappointment has been a familiar feeling over the last few months. Birth mothers who have gone with other families. Seasons of complete silence. Hopes crushed. But the thought of dancing on disappointment. Something as joy-filled as dancing paired with something as quietly sad as disappointment?

In our house, we usually dance in the kitchen. There's a lot of lip-biting and awkward hip-shaking and TONS of laughter.

Oddly, disappointment often takes place just feet away from where we dance. At the kitchen counter we have read disappointing emails. We have propped up our phone and had calls with our adoption agency where they tell us that this is all "normal." Tears have fallen in the echoes of the music we danced to.

I refuse to embrace toxic positivity, even when it feels like that's what people may want to hear from me. I will embrace hope -- a real hope that allows me to rest. To be honest. To stop striving. And to dance on disappointment.


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