The Gift of Disillusionment
Let me start out by saying that I hate the feeling of disillusionment. It is extremely painful, and for an idealist like me, it feels like a HUGE loss (and depending on the area of disillusionment, like my own recent disillusionment with a certain intentional Christian community I wanted to join, it can feel like an actual death of someone I love very much). And I do not deny that grief is real, and it needs time and space and love as it gets worked through.
However, over the past few weeks, as I've been reading Life Together by Bonhoeffer for a second time, I have been wrestling with his idea in the first chapter (though certainly he didn't originate it) that disillusionment is an enormous gift from God. I am no stranger to the reality that at times gifts from God can feel like anything but gifts when I first receive them, though in the end they always prove to be exactly what I need. And even though I still feel the pain and sting of the major disillusionment I experienced several months ago, I am lately more open to truly believing that being disillusioned is a gift. As my girl Lauryn Hill says on her unplugged CD (which I highly recommend, at least as much for the spoken interludes as for the songs), "Fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need." Amen, sister.
I have always resonated with those biblical verses, especially in the Psalms, where the psalmist says something like "I say to the LORD, 'You are my LORD, I have no good apart from you.'" (16:2) Eventually all things, situations, ideals, and people will disappoint me (time and time again). Everything that is not God will at some point reveal that very fact. And while that can be very disappointing, it's a sting that can lead to a deeper awareness of the real, lasting Goodness and Faithfulness of God. And that really is a gift of unimaginable worth.