I like things to go the way I plan. When things go wrong, taking corrective action is a natural response. When things do not work the second time, the natural follow-on reaction is frustration. Things should work! Process should produce successful outcomes. I cannot be wrong, so why is the result not what I expect?
There is a shelf in my study testifying to what can go wrong despite good intentions. The goal was simple. My measurements correct. The process is straightforward. The outcome should look good and work.
Candidly, it does not.
While it holds the things it is supposed to, it also collects dust, does not match anything, and looks cheap.
Frustration has taken control of individuals across the centuries. The strong and weak, disciplined and less so have all fallen in its grip. In an old story, a military man found himself controlled by his emotions. “That’s when the captain intervened and ordered Paul taken into the barracks. By now the captain was thoroughly exasperated.” (Acts 22.23) He made a decision only to find himself getting deeper into trouble.
I have tried to fix the shelf twice. As I stare at it as I write, I realize that each attempt has only made it worse! As I reflected on my conversation with one wiser than I, I find myself holding two weapons in my frustration fight.
Stepping back from the immediate provides a very different perspective. Frustration often wins in close quarters combat. Taking a step back, looking at life with a greater vision, often brings perspective and ideas.
Frustration casts a shadow on the learning waiting to be found when things do not go the way as expected. Life is trying to teach you and me. Each moment is an opportunity to learn. Frustration’s darkness hides our lessons. Looking with the light of hope reveals an opportunity to make a difference.
Today I start work on a new shelf. The existing shelf is a useful prototype. I know what I will change. This is an opportunity for me to make a difference.