Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How do you cope with frustration?

Last week I waxed eloquent on the need to have frustration in the lives of our children. I talked about how frustration, when managed properly, can by the catalyst of learning and innovation. Then I started thinking.

How do I manage my own frustration?

In the past, I have been a great abuser of inanimate objects. It was rare that I broke things, but I wold certainly cut them down to size verbally! People, also, have been the recipient of my acid tongue. By age 16 I could turn arrogant middle aged men into quivering masses of jelly. I wouldn't yell, I'd just use a smile and some well chosen words to cut deep. I have hung up the phone and poured out my frustrations verbally at the poor plastic implement. There were a few 'memorable' incidents where I didn't hang up properly and my verbal outpouring was heard loud and clear on the other end. Once, my unsuspecting, newly-wed husband haddn't answered the phone at work because he was already home, unbeknown to me. Needless to say he was in the NEXT ROOM to hear my tirade!! The honey moon was well and truly over that day. James Chapter 3 is actually about me.

I have made progress where this is concerned. I have grown in the Spirit and I have learned to hold my tongue more often - so I thought. Then I watch Erin growl with frustration and tell off the toy she was using - in perfect mimicry of me. I see her use words to cut her brothers down to size, and a strange sense of deja vous washes over me.

And I realise, I don't always learn.

I do not always take the frustration of waiting in a telephone que to catch up with some bill paying or put speaker phone on while I fold laundry. I do not use that time to learn patience, learn to use my time efficiently and for His glory, learn to be still and Know that He is God. Instead I gripe, bang around the house, tap my foot as I look at the Clock - that all powerful implement that I too often let rule my life instead of being a tool to make it easier.

I do not always use the disappointing, frustrating or hurtful actions of others to learn to love the unlovely and be kind to the ungrateful and the wicked (Luke 6:35). Instead I will become self-righteous and indignant. I will tell my husband of the unjust nature of it in glorious Technicolor - in front of my children. Then I wonder at them bristling at the toy-box injustices inherant in having siblings.

I do not always persist with a task that is hard or keep at the mundane with diligent focus. Too often I have given up and taken on a new fad or method of doing things, throwing out the good of the old ways rather than redesigning the old to be better. Forgetting that the new brings with it a whole new set of challenges to solve.

I do not always allow the frustrating circumstances of life to humble me and bring me to my knees - the natural position of learning.

I do not always allow frustrating experiences with others to humble me to learn from them and think of them as better than myself (Philippians 2:3) or look to their interests as well as my own (Philippians 2:4).

So, now I have a new challenge. Now I must be the change I want to see in my children. I must embrace frustration as a chance to let the Lord do something wonderful in my life. I must use it as a catalyst of learning and innovation.

What a challenge lies ahead!

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