Do you know what frustration is? It’s the conflict between expectation and reality.
I’ll give it to you in a kitchen metaphor: When I open my dishwasher and pull out the racks, I expect them to slide out and give me access to clean dishes. But they don’t, they always catch on each other.
So every time I have to snake in my hand to figure out what the issue is. Sometimes I skin my cuticles and knuckles doing this.
I expect to be able to open my dishwasher. The reality is that I usually can’t. This is frustrating and I want to take a bat to the dishwasher and then give my lovely landlords a check for a new one that is cool with the simple act of washing normal sized plates.
Right now frustration and I have been spending a lot of time together. Tons really.
Each morning I make a list, say my prayers and get after my day of finding socks, unloading the dishwasher, packing bags, making breakfast, bundling children against another day of bitter cold Michigan winter.
Each evening I fall asleep frustrated, without an ounce of personal satisfaction for a job well done.
Each night my expectations and my reality are miles apart and I have no idea what needs to move but I feel frustrated to the point of anger.
Yesterday I depleted my resources of “go get em” and my storehouses of patience and kindness which, to be honest were running low to begin with.
It culminated while I was on the phone, trying to make an appointment with our tax person.
Just before I dialed I gave each of the kids Gogurts and just as the tax office picked up my son started wailing about how he didn’t want the Gogurt I’d given him, he wanted a different one.
I cannot stress this enough: They are all the same. Exactly. The. Same flavor, shape, packaging. The. Same.
So I walked away from him and locked myself in the bathroom to have some serious fun figuring out our taxes at which point he proceeded to kick the door and wail “MOOOOM!!!!” for the entirety of my phone call.
I had to choke back sobs during the entire call (“Thanks, one o’clock it is…whimper…. thank you!”) I was frustrated to tears that my expectation of a 3 minute phone call was going unmet.
This is when my dark side took over and I grabbed his hand while he was in the middle of kicking the door, took him to his bed and administered three swift spanks on his bottom.
Then we both cried and held each other. Because I don’t really spank. I hate it. ANd on top of everything I’d done it out of sheer anger over the collision of our strong wills, taxes and friggin gogurts.
As I held him I uttered one of the most ironic things I’ve ever said: “You can’t treat other people so awfully just because life isn’t going the way you want it buddy.”
No sooner had I uttered those words than my breath caught in my throat and I cried some more because I was preaching to myself.
Wherever the roots of my frustration stem from I don’t have the right to take it out on other people.
And when I do it’s on me to make amends, to admit my ugliness and beg forgiveness. Which is the least fun imaginable in the midst of mountains of frustration and anger.
As I laid my head on my pillow last night I felt like a whimpering puddle deserving the love and mercy of no one. Yet somehow I felt myself getting swept up, quite undeservingly, into the arms of a God who’s mercies are new every morning.
Every. Morning. New Mercies
Another sunrise, another battle with the dishwasher, another moment to crawl into his lap, apologize and try again.