Dealing with Frustration, by Wendy DeRaud

Mark's painting from the Irving Shaffner Collection, oil on canvas



There is a state of inertia that exists in this place of transition. When venturing into the unknown from the known, I feel like all the wind is being taken out of my sails and I'm just sitting out there in the open seas, in my little dinghy, and the sail is hanging there, flapping breathlessly, slack and tired.

That's me. I've been waiting, anticipating, and just can't get up the momentum to do anything.


Confusion has set in. Too many choices and not able to distinguish the priorities. Waiting for a nudge in the right direction. Afraid to hope.


Wanting to trust God. Some more. But hope deferred too many times causes doubt to try to seep in, and that heart sickness that comes from a sense of betrayal.

Okay, God hasn't betrayed me. I relax back into thanksgiving for all the good in my life, my love, my family, the countless blessings.

It was a narrow escape, but I made the escape after all, and was able to swiftly get my mind back on track before becoming completely derailed. I am learning to be gentle with myself, and accept that these days happen. It's easy to forget that we are in the midst of slow but steady progress toward resolution and the new normal, but in the time of transition, we don't recognize where we are.


Transitioning to a new season means I avoid insanity by doing something differently this time around, so I refuse to crawl under a rock and spiral into despair because of this nebulous frustration. But what do I do instead??



Often when people are frustrated and don't know what to do, the default activity is some sort of avoidance, like getting caught up into the black hole of social media.


For others, an addictive behavior is employed to get into that dopamine loop and feel better. Socially acceptable addictions are easy to slip into with one hand tied behind our backs. Shopping, for one. Recreational eating is another. That is what I also want to avoid.


The ideal activity would be something creative, but it's also the most difficult without being in a good state of mind, or being inspired. It can be good to make oneself do something anyway, which is why I'm writing right now. I am committed to this blog so here I am, showing up even if I don't feel like it.


Being frustrated, impatient, and struggling to get anything constructive done brings a lot of guilt and shame to most people, I know I'm not alone in this. So what I had to do today to offset that tendency was to be thankful and choose to accept myself being like this today. The only way I could accept myself was to dwell on the reality of God's acceptance of me. I had to connect with Him and walk with Him in my confusion and unsettledness.




I really believe He understands and is with me on this journey into this new season. After all, He knows what is going to happen in the near future, what is awaiting me right around the corner, and He is teaching me to trust Him in this time of waiting and preparation.


Here are some things that helped me today, some ideas of what to do:

Do one thing.


Do laundry. Run errands. Thrift store shopping. Write in your journal about how frustration feels. Doodle. Stare off into space and dream. Smile at the clerk at the store.



“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.”

― Madeleine L'Engle



Sometimes, smiling to the clerk and striking up a conversation is the brave thing I need to do to break free of an old pattern of being. Being brave means breaking the spell, and when you do, you soon find out that there was nothing to fear after all. Life can go on now, you can come out of hiding and find your way again.


The point is, we are being called, every new day, to be more than we were yesterday. With the minute-by-minute help from the Holy Spirit, that can happen, if we are brave enough to do something differently. Out of a state of being - even being with our frustration and discomfort - we can step out into an act of faith, one thing, that can launch something new in us.


Bravery can mean saying yes when you used to say no, it can mean laughing instead of getting angry, it can mean telling the truth even if you're afraid someone may be hurt (which is really hard to do if you're a people-pleaser like me).



Bravery looks different for each of us.



Sometimes I wonder if my frustration is trying to tell me something, and that I'll find out what that is if I ask myself what I need to really do or say but am reluctant to do it.



We can be uncomfortable with the new kind of life we find ourselves in during this time of transition. We may not be used to feeling at peace with ourselves and the frustration is signaling a hidden fear that something has to go wrong in order to feel a sense of familiarity.



So what if life could really be this good? What if sitting in that little dinghy in the middle of the sea, bobbing up and down in the stillness and sunshine, is relaxing and peaceful? No doubt the winds will come and the sails will be filled once again. Just breathe it all in and enjoy it while you can.