Of all the emotions I struggle to contain, frustration is the one I handle worst of all.
I'm a very emotional person. And by "very," I really mean "overly." I don't just feel one way or another. Most of what I feel crashes on my inner shores in big, dramatic waves with a lot of foam and spray. While that may make for gorgeous photographs of Maine or California, it isn't very conducive to a peaceful life.
On a good day, I can call that level of intensity "passion." And while the waves often knock me over, at least I don't get carried out to sea as frequently as I used to. Still, I know that I have far too many days of indulging emotional riptides -- days that show me how weak I am when it comes to withstanding my own storm surges. And if there's anything I can't stand, it's a problem I can't fix.
Of all the emotions I struggle to contain, frustration is the one I handle worst of all. Over the past few months, our family has enjoyed numerous happy occasions. But in the midst of it all, I've had to deal with setbacks on several different fronts. Simple things were suddenly complicated; easy things haven't been so easy; givens became less certain; stuff I had all figured out has spun beyond my control. It's been frustrating.
I don't know about anyone else, but there's something about hitting up against a brick wall that just makes me want to hit it again -- but a whole lot harder. Of course, it isn't always the wall that goes crashing down. Often it's me.
I should have known that things would start to settle down and come together when I prayed and asked God to take care of them, and me. A few to-dos that been in a holding pattern since January finally resolved in the past 10 days or so. Some of what I've found difficult to get to or plow through is now done. And a few of those nerve-wracking, wait-and-see, I'm-sure-it-will-be-fine items have come through. For at least a few days, I can just float -- at least until the next waves roll in.
The good news of the Gospel is that God doesn't expect us to break through walls, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, or save ourselves. He knows we can't, even when we are crazy enough to think otherwise. We don't have to surf the tidal waves around us, or inside us, until we wipe out or drown. We can ask him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves instead.
God wants to help us. He loves us as we are. He is attracted by the weaknesses that we are ashamed to admit, and do our darnedest to hide. God wants us to know the kind of love that can steady us in any storm. He offers to hold us by the hand as the waves come in and show us how to jump over and even ride them.
Are there things you can't control in yourself? Give them to Jesus. Is there something that frustrates or frightens you? Take it to him without hesitation. If you feel guilt for your sins, or worse, you don't -- let Jesus show you the truth as he sees it. There is nothing to fear, because he sees all truth in love. You may not know what to do with yourself, or about yourself. God does. He has a plan for your life that will not sweep you out of sight, but take you beneath the waves to the calm and quiet ocean depths of his inexhaustible love.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is the author of “Adoption: Room for One More?”, a speaker, musician and serves as an Aquisitions Editor at Our Sunday Visitor. Follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.
Recent articles in the Faith & Family section
Signs of the timesJaymie Stuart Wolfe
What's happening these days in pastoral planning?Sister Pat Boyle, CSJ
Conservatives: What they are and what they aren'tKevin and Marilyn Ryan
Holding the pope's hand in gratitude for being CatholicHosffman Ospino
Hindu-Catholic national dialogue on love of neighborFather Thomas Ryan