3 Easy Steps to Kick Frustration to the Curb
Recently we’ve had some much-needed rain that lasted many days. But just before the rain had started our oldest child mowed half of the lawn. Unfortunately for our next door neighbors it was the half by the street, not the half closest to their yard. I felt pretty bad about it as the rain stretched out for days on end, the grass seeming to creep up higher and higher by the hour.
The day the rain stopped, our son was actually called away to do another mowing job for someone else so I decided to jump in and do it before it started to rain again. I got the mower fueled up, got myself mentally prepared to mow the entire yard (half of which was about ready for a second trim, the other half resembled a jungle) and began.
Not thirty minutes into my work a young bull moose galloped around the corner of our house and startled me. We live in Alaska near a marshy area where it’s not uncommon to see moose coming and going. The apple and crabapple trees in our yard draw them to our lot in particular.
But I’d never had one run at me at full speed!
I instinctively stopped the mower and ran around to the other side of the house. It turns out he’d been in the front when my husband had started the truck and startled him. He wasn’t out to get me, but by that time he’d set up shop munching on apples right next to my abandoned mower. There was no safe way to retrieve the mower and resume my work.
I was so mad.
Like, unreasonably mad given the situation. I huffed and stomped and muttered under my breath. When I realized how ridiculous my behavior was, I stopped to assess the “why” behind my excessive frustration.
I pulled up a chair on the porch with a table between me and the grazing moose and a door behind me that I could safely duck into if the moose started coming my way. I invited God into my mess of a mind, asking Him to help me figure out the root causes of my reaction to the moose interruption. I felt like God wanted me to sit in the sunshine and be still before doing anything else.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
As I sat, feeling gratitude for the peaceful moment and the sunshine – and yes, even for the adorable, annoying baby bull moose (whom my neighbor affectionately named “Fuzzy Nubs” because of his tiny emerging antlers), I realized that it had been way too long since I’d sat with God. We’ve had weeks of family visiting, busy kid schedules, as well as all the usual home management and ministry work. God had fallen by the wayside, and with all the tasks I had in front of me I’d been forgetting to ask Him what His agenda was for the day.
3 Easy Steps to Kick Frustration to the Curb
Can you relate to the frustration that comes from interruptions in your plans, your schedule, or life in general? Whether it’s a baby bull moose, sickness in your household or any number of curveballs life may throw at you, I’d love to encourage you with three easy steps you can take right now to get out of the rut of disappointment and frustration you’re no doubt feeling.
1. Be Still
Once I recognized that I was throwing what I’ve come to call a “Mommy Temper Tantrum,” I was able to take a few breaths and sit down with God. Whether you literally pull up a chair in the sunshine or do it figuratively, take a moment and just breathe. Be still and remember who this God is who allowed the moose to thwart your lawn-mowing plans. Ask God to help you understand why you’re holding on so tightly to those plans. Honestly, in my case it was pride. I didn’t want my neighbors to think poorly of us for letting our grass get so tall. That was it. And come to find out, they’d been out of town for weeks.
2. Be Thankful
Sitting in the stillness, remembering who God was and then being thankful for the things in that moment was so powerful. I was even able to appreciate and enjoy the beauty in the source of my interruption (Fuzzy Nubs). You can stop and take note of things around you to be thankful for, or take it a step further and do a “gratitude from A to Z” and name things you’re thankful for that begin with each letter of the alphabet. The point is to shift the focus from what you feel has been taken from you (your plans) onto the many gifts God has given.
3. Be Open
The last step is to be open to what plans God might have for you. I had to come to terms with the fact that I’d been pushing my own agenda for the day so hard that I’d not even asked God about His plans for me on that beautiful day. It turns out our family took a break to take some pictures of the moose, laughed a lot and then within a half hour or so I was able to resume mowing. If I had been fuming and storming around the house for that half hour, I’d have missed some really sweet family time. Being flexible and open to God’s agenda is the secret to being happy in any circumstance, and will greatly improve your quality of life in the long run.
I still struggle with handing my plans and agenda and control over to God, but I’m trying to get better, and I feel like this last experience with a minor curveball was a small victory in the end. But the more we practice the small victories the easier it will be to get into the right frame of mind for those larger ones down the road.
Join the Conversation
What about you? What plans are you holding on to too tightly? What curveballs has life thrown at you lately, and how do you handle them? Share in the comments! And please know that our prayers are with you for God’s peace and grace and love to surround you in all of the difficulties you might be facing today, whether big or small.