Disappointment happens—and it hurts. What’s worse is that there are opportunities for disappointment everywhere.While there’s nothing particularly modern about disappointment, modern communications technologies can amplify our awareness of disappointing events and also provide fora in which we can express the disappointments we feel. These technologies, in other words, have expanded our capacity for disappointment. Just as it’s now completely normal to encounter a Facebook post articulating disappointment with an occurrence on the other side of the world, it’s also long since become commonplace to posit “the internet” as a factor in leading people to become disappointed with the Church. If disappointment is a basic part of human experience, I believe that it’s worth thinking about what part disappointment plays in our efforts to build Zion and how, then, we can engage in that work in our current technological environment.
The weeping God of Moses 7 can teach us something about disappointment. When Enoch asks God, “How is it thou canst weep?” the reply comes:
Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood; And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them.
God is disappointed because humans hate instead of love—and not just in the abstract, but in relation to “their own blood.” God responds to disappointment as we often do: with “fierce anger” and the threat of global calamity.
I’ll admit to being a little disappointed with God’s response here. Why should I pursue a relationship with such a being? Sure, I see the appeal in the idea of a God whose “heart … beats in sympathy with human hearts, feeling our joy and sorrowing over our pain,” as Terryl and Fiona Givens have put it, but this is also a God who, in the same sentence, plots the destruction of humankind. 
But why in general should we form relationships with people, institutions, or deities, given that they will almost inevitably let us down? I think that the answer is that there is no way for us to be happy without risking such relationships—and in framing this discussion by talking about disappointment, I do mean to emphasize the risk.
In choosing to form relationships we do not only risk experiencing disappointment, but, closer to the bone, we also risk causing it. In fact, entering into relationships makes it almost certain that we’ll cause some disappointment, and that can leave us painfully disappointed with ourselves.
If relationships are thus engines for disappointment, how can they produce happiness? I’ve written recently about friendship as a process of making ourselves present to others and creating space for them to be present to us, noting that this openness is a kind of vulnerability, or susceptibility to being wounded.
Here’s the thing about vulnerability: our liability to disappointment derives from our desire to be able to love and approve those people and institutions with which we associate, and to be loved and approved in return. For their (or our) love and approval to be meaningful, we have to know that the relationship is open to the revelation of disappointing realities on both sides. Meaningful love and approval require that disappointment be a live option.
I believe that redemptive relationships go beyond this, though: can we learn to love those aspects of other people that might justly disappoint us? This, it seems to me, is how Jesus loves us. The whole premise of the Atonement is that we, collectively and individually, cause disappointment, and yet Jesus, because of this and not in spite of it, chose to become human and take not only our disappointments but our very capacity to disappoint upon himself. He chose to save us by loving us as we are.
It’s only in the context of such love, I believe, that we can hope for those disappointing aspects of ourselves to change. This is why it’s so very important that we learn to love each other—and even the Church—in this way. One of the hardest questions that people and institutions face is deciding when to consider changing direction in the face of critique and when to stand their ground. The possibility for disappointing ourselves and others looms behind either choice, and this all too often produces defensive actions designed to forestall disappointment rather than enact either needed repentance or real integrity.
Only when we learn to love people and institutions in ways that make us vulnerable to the probability of disappointment can they open themselves up to the risks necessary to become their fullest and best selves—and the same is true for us. This openness is guaranteed to hurt us sometimes, and it also guarantees that we will cause hurt to others, but there is no other way for us to be truly happy—which means a richness of human connection extending well beyond self-contained contentment. This bounteous sociality is Zion, and we have to work together to build it, one act of love, vulnerability, and even disappointment at a time.
 Terryl and Fiona Givens, The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life (Salt Lake City: Ensign Peak, 2012), 6.