This week I’ve encountered a major frustration that has really thrown me for a loop. It’s one of those things where you feel like you get the short end of the stick and you didn’t even know there was a stick in the mix! I’ll admit, a few ugly words have gone through my head to describe the way I feel I’ve been treated, but I’ll refrain from sharing those here in print. Suffice it to say that I’m frustrated.
And that’s exactly the lesson I’m taking away from this: admitting frustration helps to diffuse anger.
You see, this is one of those times when I honestly do not want to get angry. I love the people involved in this mess. I truly want the best for them. I don’t want to win. I just want this dilemma to go away. But I also want to be treated with respect in the middle of it all, and I don’t feel that I am being. So there’s the rub.
But because I’ve been so determined to steer clear of anger, I’ve put into practice some basic principles that, I dare say, I often neglect. Instead, I often let my frustration build and explode into bona fide, red hot anger. And I realize that some anger is justified, especially if your anger is ignited by injustice to another or in defense of things holy. But my anger in this situation would only be fueled by self-pity and self-defense. Also, anger in this situation would probably last way past bedtime.
So I’ve tried this time to keep communication clear and active between me and my God this time, allowing Him to walk me through my emotions so that together we can manage them.
Here’s how I’m trying to handle my frustrations so they never even get to “angry.”
- I’m admitting my frustration. I’m telling God over and over how frustrating these circumstances are. I’m venting to Him on almost a continuous basis. And the results are somewhat similar to when I put a lid loosely over my boiling potatoes so that they can cook quickly and completely without boiling over. God is allowing me to let off steam to Him so others don’t get burned by my negative talk.
- I’m loving that word “frustrated.” I’ve found that the word completely and comprehensively expresses exactly how I feel about things. And I’m learning to leave it right there…with “frustrated.” I don’t have to scream and yell and say “I’m angry,” because “frustrated” beautifully describes the situation without labeling it as hopeless. “Frustrated” implies that there is a solution somewhere out there, hope is alive, help is on the way, and my faith is in tact.
- I’m asking God to keep anger from me. I’m asking Him to keep my heart soft toward the people involved, to keep self-pity from heating up the situation, and to keep hope alive. Basically, I’m echoing Jesus’ model prayer by asking Him to “keep me from temptation.”
- I’m giving God time and room to work. I resisting, by the grace of God, the urge to run in and manipulate things myself. That is not typical or easy for me, but I know it’s the right thing to do. God tells us to “be still, and know that He is God.” That means “take your hands off and let me be God over this.”
- I’m realizing that we all get frustrated, it’s a normal, human condition. Frustration is not the end of the world, nor does it have to be the end of a relationship, the end of a friendship, or the end of this situation. Hope dictates and the definition of “frustrated” indicates that all can be well again. Whether it ends with an acknowledgement of hurt feelings and an apology or whether it simply ends with me forgiving and issuing grace, this is not a permanent condition…unless I let it be. And I won’t.