“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)
I find myself frustrated with the world around me more than I would like to admit. Frustration is an interesting reaction/response to the world. If you think about it, we quickly make the thing or person we’re having a reaction towards the source of our frustration. We do it all the time:
“My kids are so frustrating!”
“Traffic was aggravating on the way to work!”
There’s an interesting thing occurring with these speech acts. We project our feelings onto something or someone, scapegoat our anxiety onto them, and never deal with the ultimate source of frustration.
Your kids cannot be frustrating unless they name some anxiety inside of you. Traffic cannot be aggravating unless it names stress in you. The source of frustration is not out there floating in the atmosphere. The source of frustration resides in us. Traffic and kids are mere triggers.
Are your kids really frustrating? Or do they name inadequacy you feel as a parent? Do they name a lack of time you wish you could escape? Do they name exhaustion in your life? Your reaction may only perpetuate the frustration rather than dealing with it.
Here’s the cycle:
- Kids act out.
- Parent gets frustrated and raises voice.
- Parent feels bad for raising voice but kids keep acting out.
- Parent leaves the room to get away from kids.
- Parent feels guilty for not spending time with kids.
- Parent re-engages with kids.
- Kids act out…REPEAT!
In these bulletpoints, is the source of frustrating really the kids? May I suggest that the cycle seems to indicate inadequacy, exhaustion, and possible poor time management.
Folks, we do this all the time. Instead of reflecting on the deeper anxieties within us, we scapegoat the world claiming that IT is the source of our frustration. We project onto the world our fears, stresses, inadequacies and wonder why we never feel better. Eliminate one trigger today and you’ll have two different ones tomorrow.
What if we all took the time to carve some mental space and ask ourselves, “How are you doing?” What does it look like to close our eyes, picture our anxiety, and in spite of it declare, “Jesus, I trust you”? What if the only medicine for our frustration is to start living out of a different source?
Until we deal with ourselves…
- it will always be the opposite political party’s fault.
- the kids will always drive us crazy.
- traffic will always move slowly.
- work will always overwhelm us.
- authority figures in our lives (professors, teachers, bosses) will always be out to get us.
Until we deal with ourselves…
- we will be haunted by a lack of contentment.
- we will feel the incessant need to compete with others.
- we will feel tired and lonely at the end of the day.
- joy will be but a mere pipe dream.
I don’t claim to be an expert in this, nor do I claim to have mastered it. I’m frustrated with the amount of frustration in the world. The frustration in the world frustrates me. I act out and only add to the frustration in the world. Frustration begins and ends with me.
Lord Jesus, the chain of frustration must break! Would you first break the link in my life?