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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Before I Even Get to Angry

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.
We all get frustrated at times. Whether we've been mistreated, things aren't going as planned, someone misunderstands us and communication seems impossible, or other people just "aren't cooperating," we all encounter frustrating times. It's part of life. It's part of the test of life. 

I want to pass the test. And I want to keep my relationships in tact, as much as is possible with me. And I want to honor my God, the One who said He would never leave me or forsake me. I want to be Christlike on the bumpy roads as well as on the smooth ones. Don't you?

I'm not just asking your opinion today, I'm asking for your help. I'm still hurting. That's another word I've been using in my constant stream of prayer lately -- "hurting." So I could definitely use your encouragement and your words of wisdom. 

What do you do when you are frustrated, deeply frustrated, with a situation? I'd love to know.

3 comments:

  1. I talk about it constantly to my husband until it's resolved or goes away. I'm not really advocating that strategy that's just what I do. Poor husband is a great listener and just lets me vent without trying to fix anything. Usually I get to a point where I have to just move on - you can only be upset for so long. Hopefully, for his sake, it's sooner than later.

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  2. Oh I understand, been in that room this week too. Crying and sadness and deep anger. I pray. I wait. I listen. I talk to someone if I can. I write. I pray more.

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  3. I used to journal when I was frustrated, and I even (I blush to admit) made lists of "Why I'm Right" and "Why They're Right" and compared who had more points. I'm not even gonna go into why the second strategy wasn't helpful, but I found, for me, that even the journaling wasn't helpful except in retrospect...in retrospect, I read my writing and see the smallness, the meanness, and the defensiveness that led me to shut people out in the end. I can now see where I really was right and where I really wasn't.
    I think it's admirable, the desire to flee temptation and remain on the gracious side of grace, but I have a thought...what if (ONLY with God) you let all that meanness out? Like the Psalmists, ask God to smite their firstborn and let them go hungry while you feast on filet mignon and grant them sudden grief while you win the lottery? I'm not advocating that you stay in this place...but I am suggesting that that level of nasty resides in each of us and needs out, even for a man "after God's own heart." It's like you said, let off the steam...I'm just wondering if it might not be beneficial to (again, ONLY with God) let it all, All hang out? Let the full poison out and look at it in the face. It might be something more (or less) justifiable than it feels, roiling away inside of you. Maybe it's ego and pride that have been bruised, but maybe it's something else? You won't know if it never comes out. Just a thought.

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