A lot of things drive us nuts, frustrate us, or are just plain unfair. We deal with these kinds of situations, big and small, every day. Someone cuts us off in traffic and we carry a grudge all day long, telling everyone who will listen what a lousy driver that person was. Plans go awry through no fault of our own and although we may (or may not!) keep silent, the frustration simmers inside for hours, distracting our attention and stealing our joy. But, those things do not have to rule our lives. We have the power to overcome them and stay focused.
This probably doesn’t happen to you, but I can have my whole day thrown off track just because my plans or expectations were disrupted. My husband and son were planning a weekend camp out recently, meeting some other guys at 5:30 on Friday and returning on Sunday. I made all sorts of plans for what I would do with the free time, starting with some writing work on Friday afternoon. At 4:30 on Friday my husband called from work to tell me he was still over and hour and a half from home, and would I please pack up the things they would need and bring them to the meeting place. So, instead of sending them off on their adventure and getting started on my writing, my afternoon and evening were consumed with pulling everything together at the last minute so they could go as planned.
If my husband had taken time the day before to gather and pack all of his supplies, it would have been a simple matter for me to grab the stuff and deliver it. If he had planned his work day better, he could have gotten out of work earlier. It’s easy for me to come up with all kinds of reasons why someone else’s poor planning or rude behavior ruined my day. So I stewed about it. I spent the rest of the evening in a funk because the 3 or 4 hours I had planned on having to myself, to work on the things I wanted to do, were gone.
You could say I was justified in being frustrated. I did have to sacrifice my plans to make things work out for the guys going camping. I suppose I have the “right” to be resentful. However, at what cost? If I had put that frustration aside and focused on getting back to doing the writing I wanted to do, I could have accomplished at least a little that night. Instead I decided I was too tired and angry to write so I slumped on the couch and watched part of a movie before bed.
Did you catch that? I decided I was in no mood to write. You see, we have a choice how we respond to the situations that happen around us. I let myself get derailed and lose focus because of a situation I had no control over. I chose to be frustrated. That attitude took over and defeated my plans for a productive evening. So what price did I pay for indulging in my frustration? Yes I may have the right to my feelings, but at what cost?
We all have things we want to accomplish, dreams and goals to pursue. Along the road obstacles spring up. We expect the obvious ones, like the babysitter who cancels at the last minute when we are about to go out on a long-overdue date night with our husband. But we don’t think about our own attitude being an obstacle. Our feelings are too dear, too intimate to us. We trust them and live through them. But, even when those feelings are rational, they can still be a detriment to our goals.
Do I want to mollycoddle my feelings or hit my goals? I, and you, have a choice to make. I have a goal to get an awesome book done in 90 days. One that will inspire and encourage people to discover and live out the blessed life God created them for. That is more important to me than indulging in frustration, no matter how justified. Are your dreams really important to you? Do you have a vision that burns inside yet never seems to see the light of day? Pull those out of your heart and your head, and write them down. Focus on them, pray over them and make a plan to move toward them. When something threatens to interrupt your progress, stop and think “is getting angry, frustrated, offended or whatever it is, worth more to me than this dream?” “Which is going to move me toward the life of blessings and joy God planned for me?” You have the power to choose.