This past summer was one of the most spiritually enriching times in my life. After an emotional spring with a new baby, moving, some major life changes, financial worries, having good friends leave, and a myriad of other things, I started the summer completely on empty. I was tired, drained, and wondering how I could ever fill myself again.
During one of my hardest and most emotional days early in the summer, I just cried out to God in desperation that He would fill me. And He did. As soon as I recommitted myself to regular time rooting myself in His Word, my heart started to heal. And not only was it healing, but also it was racing. New thoughts, ideas, and dreams filled my heart and soul at a pace much faster than I could process them. This blog is the result of one of those dreams. Other ones are still in process. I was so thankful that the filling that I was longing for — the filling I foolishly tried to get through things of the world — came quickly and with healing balm.
And so, the rest of the summer was rich. So rich. God opened His Word to me in new and amazing ways and I was left in awe of His goodness. Not the goodness of His gifts, but the goodness of Himself.
Because God is good, and He desires that I grow, he spent some time gently calling me out on my sin. There were some areas in my life, deeply buried by outward appearances and “everybody feels this way” attitudes. He spoke firmly and gently (my own goal when I deal with my children) and exposed some areas that needed work. There are two phrases that I say often and God spoke to me on both of them. Today I will share about one of them.
“I’m so frustrated!”
Those words (or similar ones) pop into my head many times an hour and out of my mouth a number of times a day. It’s no wonder — five children, homeschooling, living overseas, and life in a “fish bowl” community. Although I love my life and wouldn’t choose another path, the frustration comes. That constant state of agitation was wearing on me and it definitely wasn’t doing anything to help my kids. And then it dawned on me…”frustrated” is just a nice excusable word for selfishness.
Ouch. It can’t be. Really?
Reluctantly, I thought through this new idea. “When I say that I am frustrated, am I really just admitting that I am selfish?”
And my answer was, “Yes. Overwhelmingly, Yes.”
Selfishness is wanting to get my own way. And when I am frustrated, it is because I am not getting my own way.
When I am frustrated while sitting in traffic, I am not getting my way of being able to keep moving.
When I am frustrated when my husband is late coming home, I am not getting my way in having him home to help me.
When I am frustrated that the kids are being loud, I am not getting my own way of having some quiet time.
When I am frustrated that the internet isn’t working, I am not getting my way on being able to do accomplish the things I need to do.
When I am frustrated at the pile of dishes in the sink, I am not getting my way of being able to rest instead of work.
When I am frustrated that reading isn’t clicking with one of my kids, I am not getting my way in thinking that teaching/home schooling should be easy.
Oh, how I could go on! All of it: SELFISHNESS. It is anger because my will is being blocked. It creates an emotional and physical response in me. It makes thoughts, feelings, words, and actions pour out of me. And almost always, I wish I could take them back.
It was in God’s grace that He showed this truth to me. Because the ONLY way to start actually dealing with the frustration is to be willing to be clear about what it really is. Because honestly, my external world will always be “frustrating.” There will always be traffic. There will always be disagreements with my husband. There will always be kids who spill drinks, make messes, and need me at inopportune times. I can’t do anything about those things and therefore my desire to manage frustrations would have mostly been futile if I only focused on those things.
However, when I am willing to admit what the real problem is — selfishness — then I can see a way to actually improve. I am in control of my own selfishness in way that I can never be in control of other people and outside circumstances. Selfishness is just another sin and God can aid me in fighting that sin in the same way He has aided me in fighting many others. Finally, there is hope.
“…and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”