Do you ever get frustrated with your inability to accomplish a task, a goal, or to meet an expectation? More and more often I have found myself feeling this way; wishing I was better prepared for the challenges I face in marriage, in parenting, in faith, and at work. Perhaps I am just feeling tired, I speak to many folks who feel these things and often they too are tired. Perhaps I am just in a particularly challenging moment in life and work. Either way a path forward is needed. I suspect you feel this at times too.
I have noticed that sometimes the failure is false.
By that I mean we only appear to fail, or we only think we fail. We must be careful about expectations and know which ones are reasonable and which ones are not. Furthermore, and this one is certainly true for church workers but my hunch is it’s true for many others as well, sometimes the expectations we feel burdened to meet are entirely our own. Sometimes I think I should be able to do something and I blur that thought with the thought that others expectme to be able to do something. Often people are kind and gracious and reasonable where I am hard. The bible calls us to lean not on our own understanding but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Surely at times this means re-evaluating expectations.
Of course, there are times we really are failing and in those times we can rely on the forgiveness and blessing of God. In Jesus, God reached out to help us to accomplish what we cannot accomplish and in doing so opened the door to forgiveness for where we ought not to have failed.
In the times of failure we can remember how we got here and commit to improving.
The 8-year-old is learning to type up stories. This is a difficult process for him. He has imagination aplenty but spelling and typing are a chore. I help him with spelling, countless “how to you spell XYZ?” patiently answered. I adore watching him execute the spelling. He holds up a single finger, his whole body tense and engaged, his eyes serious, as he hunts for the magic button with the right symbol. Symbols are especially fun because he knows that quotation marks, commas, semi-colons etc. exist because they are in the books he reads, but he doesn’t know how they are employed nor how to make them appear on the laptop screen. Watching him, helping him, I am reminded at how much work has gone in to my having the abilities I do, limited as they still are. This gives me hope in times when I am frustrated because it reminds me that I am capable of growing, I am not static, I am not stuck with my current skills and insights, and nor are you.
Next time you feel anxious or tired or frustrated try to remember this. Try to go through a brief evaluation asking yourself whose expectation you are failing to meet, is it a good and fair expectation, what happens if you do not meet it, and—if you still think it is something you want to be able to do—how can you grow so as to meet it in the future? This helps me leave emotions of frustration behind and gives me a sense of taking back control. Proverbs says, Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored,so let’s not ignore the opportunities for growth.
Where the challenge is especially daunting let’s hold to the teaching of James, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
I hope you find this helpful…
“How do you spell Robot Dog…”