June, 2017: Frustration. We’ve ALL been there. Big frustrations over our jobs, money, family, relationships, health, and so much more. Little frustrations like traffic, car repairs, colds and sinus infections, unrecognizable laundry rooms, and your spouse’s incessant snoring. They all add up over time. And the sum is somehow magnified and multiplied into something far bigger when mixed with fatigue, illness, and boredom.
How do we get beyond the frustrations of life? Certainly there are times when frustration is a very normal and expected part of life. The second ACL tear- on the same knee. The second cancer diagnosis. The car that was supposed to be fixed pulled over to the side of the road, waiting to be towed. Life not happening as fast as we had planned. Frustration appears to be events and episodes where resolution seems out of our control, despite our best efforts. And it probably is out of our control. If it was in our control, we would likely act quickly to do something about it, rectify the situation right away. In fact, the unexpected additions that tax us emotionally, mentally, and physically, make our already full lives tip into the seemingly unmanageable.
So what do we do when frustration sneaks in and overcomes us and our previously positive attitude about life? What CAN we do? Maybe the situation is in your control, if you think about it from a new perspective. We have had some beautifully frustrating roses in the front of our home for five years, and for five years they look great in June, but by the end of July, they are a well eaten heap of sticks. Not a fan of spraying for anything, I recruit my husband to do the job on a regular basis. I mention it about once a week and the result is about a once every 3-4 weeks spray job. I then mention, hey honey, why don’t you just spray on a schedule, every week, put it in your task list, so you can be reminded, etc, etc. Still every mid to end of July, sticks re-appear where beautiful blooms once stood. Considering my options, I could remind (nag) my husband more often, do it myself, or just rid myself of the roses all together. So that’s what I did. Roses out, low maintenance hostas in. Problem solved, never to be a source of frustration or nagging again.
It is definitely more difficult to rid yourself of frustration when the situation is not in our control. Does it make sense to worry, complain, or allow it to weigh us down? When we think about it, not really. Instead, work to balance the frustrations on one side with a hefty dose of selflessly serving others on the other. It doesn’t take the frustration away, but it does serve as a powerfully uplifting and welcome distraction from those things in life that are beyond our control. We certainly cannot guarantee smooth sailing, but refusing to give in to the hopelessness mounting frustrations can bring make us that much stronger for the frustrations still hiding along the road ahead. That, and remind yourself of how far you have come. How you have been able to overcome hardship and frustration in the past, and that although right now this current frustration seems to loom so very large, in the rearview mirror, this tough moment too will seem like a small blip in time, a tiny detour in the road of a life that is otherwise filled with blessings. Focusing on others instead of yourself will result in an overwhelming sense of usefulness and gratitude.
Finally, don’t forget the most important tool in overcoming frustrations in life, tapping into a power far greater, stronger, and more omnipotent than you or I. Faith in God, not just on the surface, but allowing the impact of His strength and the power of his Holy Spirit to assist you in keeping that chin up, encouraging others, and being of service to God and others, while you patiently pray and wait for resolution of the problem at hand. Francesca Batiasilli sings “Find Rest,” a soothing reminder that all is not lost in the midst of uncertainty that overwhelms us:
He never sleeps, He never slumbers He’s been awake at every hour No tear catches Him by surprise. He’s never lost, He never runs out He never lives in the shadows of doubt No fear catches Him by surprise Find rest my soul Put your hope in God Put your hope, put your hope in God. He always is, He always will be He always has been everything I need How can this be catching me by surprise He’s ever strong, He’s ever faithful His love is real, now nothing is impossible ‘Cause nothing catches Him by surprise. Find rest my soul Put your hope in God Put your hope, put your hope in God.
Use this month to focus on others, whether you are currently sitting joyfully on the mountain-top or stuck hopelessly in the muck-filled valley. In either situation, you will find each hour of your day more filled with life, purpose, gratitude, and hope than ever before. And you may just help someone else equally frustrated find the silver lining among the gloom and grey of a stormy episode of life.