It’s an irritating word and an even more irritating feeling. Especially when frustration seems to be there everywhere you turn.
About 2 years ago, this is exactly where I was: Frustrated at absolutely everything in my life. From my kids and parenting, to my husband, to my work and blogging and every little thing in between. I was absolutely miserable and stressed to the max. So was my husband. We had no idea what to do or where to turn or how to even begin to sort out the many messes that had become our lives.
However, what God did show us to do made an amazing difference in helping us to sort out some of the workable frustrations we were dealing with and move forward. I’ve gone through this exercise myself a few times since then and found it really helpful to begin getting out of the frustration pit, so I wanted to share what God has shown me to help others who find themselves feeling walled in by frustration in every area of their lives.
I actually started my list with number 2, but then realized that even the ability to do any of it has to start with prayer. It doesn’t have to be formal, journaled, or even detailed – the Holy Spirit is able to plead our case even in our groanings (Romans 8:26). However, it must start here with a simple prayer for God to give you wisdom and guidance to deal with your circumstances and to reveal what it is that is truly at the center of them and how to move forward.
Because I know from dealing with my own seasons of intense frustrations that sometimes this step can be the hardest one, here’s a prayer to help get you started.
Lord, I’m frustrated and lost right now. I have no idea how to get out of this pit of frustration and I’m overwhelmed by even trying to think about it. I have no idea what to do, but your Word says I can come to you for wisdom (James 1:5). Lord, grant me the wisdom I need to move forward out of this season of frustration. Give me insight into the sources of my frustration, and the wisdom to see how to move forward from where I am now. Lord, I thank you that you are always with me and that you have promised to use all things including these frustrations for my good (Romans 8:28). Help me to seek Your will for my life as I move forward during this time. In Jesus’s name – Amen!
2. List out all your frustrations
After several days of wanting to just rip my hair out and scream at everything and everyone in my house and probably doing it on more than one occasion (not pretty, but just keeping it real!), I asked my husband to have a meeting while the kids took a nap. I gave him a piece of paper and took one of my own and had us both make a list of EVERYTHING we were feeling frustrated/angry/irritated about.
It was a VERY long list for me.
His wasn’t as long but as we compared the lists it revealed most of the same things. If nothing else, at this point we knew what we were frustrated about and as a couple we knew we were on the same page.
This is an important step in the process, so please don’t skip over it. When we feel frustrated it is very easy to let this emotion seep into every single area of our life and permeate our thinking until the issues that we are yelling at our kids or spouse about isn’t the REAL issue at the root of our frustrations.
We have to be able to clearly identify and be able to articulate our frustrations to ourselves and those involved in the situations in order to bring about any sort of plans for resolution. It also helps to get them “off your chest” so to speak. You may even find some frustrations are resolved just by having a clearer picture. You do not have to do this with your spouse if most of your frustrations are on your end. However it is a good idea to communicate with your spouse that you are feeling frustrated and be able to give them a clearer idea of why. (Please be mindful to do this calmly and without placing blame or fault for the frustrations.)
3. Evaluate Your Frustrations
The next part is to really take a look at your frustrations and evaluate them. Here’s some good questions to ask yourself as you evaluate your frustrations and look for root causes.
- Do a number of them center around a particular person/place/or thing? If so, who or what? (There may be more than one connection with some of your frustrations.)
- Are any of my frustrations out of my scope of control? (dependent on another person’s actions or choices; i.e. a boss, the government, etc.)
- Are any frustrations a result of another frustration?
- Which frustrations are minor? Which are major?
- Do any of my frustrations result from my own sin? (Lack of self-control, procrastination, bad choices, etc.)
- Are any of my frustrations resulting from choices of people within my realm of influence? (Note: you can influence your spouse’s behavior and your children’s, however you cannot make choices for them.)
- Is there a common thread that weaves its way through a majority of my frustrations? Is it something I can resolve or a season of life issue to learn to cope and deal with?
- Do I need outside help to deal with any of these frustrations? (Help may be in the form of professional or pastoral counseling, or possibly in the form of getting someone to take the kids for an hour, do the laundry or other household chores (even maybe your kids!), etc.)
In this step continue to ask God to show you the deep root cause(s) of your frustrations. Ask Him to reveal the answers to these questions and more. He will guide you. I’ll warn you – it may not be easy to realize the root causes of your frustrations, and you may have to be willing to lay some of them down as they just aren’t “fixable” at this stage of your life – but identifying them and evaluating them is a step in the right direction.
4. Act on the things you can fix
Not everything on your list will have a fix. But there is a good chance that as you evaluated your frustrations and looked at how they connected that some things surfaced that you knew you can and should act upon.
Maybe it’s as “simple” as a few minor routine tweaks (maybe an earlier bedtime for mom and dad or the kids). Maybe it’s major thing like deciding to polish off the resume and start looking for a new job or even leave your current one. Whatever the actionable fixes are that reveal themselves, continue to pray about them and ACT!
For us the biggest common thread was that we weren’t getting enough sleep. Caleb was 3 months old at the time and still sleeping in our room as his 2 year old sister had yet to vacate her crib. She absolutely wanted nothing to do with sleeping in her toddler bed that we’d had set up for a while. She also wasn’t sleeping well due to some health issues, and we later discovered because she’d actually outgrown the crib and it was waking her when she rolled over.
The fix – taking our upstairs office and moving it into our unfinished basement in order to give Caleb his own room. This required moving a Queen sized bed into Naomi’s room for her to sleep in and to make space in the basement. It was a TON of work that we did on the coldest day of the year – our neighbors probably thought we were crazy as we have to use our driveway to move large pieces of furniture between the basement and upstairs – BUT it was worth it!!! The very first night – both kids slept through the night!
I won’t say that things will go that smoothly with every transition. In fact, ours wasn’t so smooth as we quickly discovered that our new office basement is about 48 degrees and no amount of kerosene or electric heaters will warm it all up with cement block everywhere. However we managed to muddle through until Spring.
This fix took care of several frustrations all at once – but by NO means all of them, which takes us to our last step.
5. Deal with what you can
Dealing with things has a lot of different meanings – and you may need to use all the meanings of the words to sort out your various frustrations.
Dealing with what you can may mean actually completing step number 4 of acting on what you can fix multiple times.
Dealing with what you can may mean seeking out counseling to help you sort out your emotions and responses to certain frustrations.
Dealing with what you can may mean reevaluating your current coping strategies and creating some new ones.
Dealing with what you can may mean realizing that you can’t do anything about some frustration right now BUT to give it to God in prayer and keep waiting on Him.
Dealing with what you can means you cross off the things that are NOT your frustrations to deal with.
Dealing with frustrations is going to be a lifelong process.
Some frustrations you will have to work hard to resolve, others will resolve on their own, and other’s will linger with you. However, the impact of your frustrations on your everyday life will ebb and flow like the tide. It’s the times in life were it seems to wall you in from all sides that it is critical to take some time to seek God’s wisdom for getting out of the pit of frustration.
It won’t be easy, but Jesus promised He’d always be with us (Matthew 28:20). He sent His Counselor to help us and guide us in the process, we just have to seek Him out.
Prayers for you as you go about dealing with your frustrations.
Lord, I ask that you be with each person who reads this post. I thank you that you care about every detail in our lives (Psalm 37:23 NLT) and I ask that you will encourage and lead their hearts to seek after You and the plans You have for them. Give them the ability to hear Your voice and guidance clearly. Help them to act upon what you reveal, and give them grace to deal with the issues at hand. Lord, I ask that you will help all of us to continually seek You in our frustrations and not allow them to become a stumbling block that keeps us from You. You are our light and salvation (Psalm 27:1), our ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1), help us to sense You in the midst of the pit we are in. In Jesus’s name – Amen.