Frustration and Joy

In the past few days, I snapped at my kids. Twice. While it was necessary to respond to them in some way, their crimes didn’t match the punishment. I was overly frustrated and didn’t know why.

But God has met me in this frustration and gently revealed a way of joy. 

As God transforms my heart, a verse lingers. It's the last phrase of Luke 2:7:

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Not much is said about the inn keeper who turned Joseph and Mary away.

But I can’t help but wonder how it all unfolded. Perhaps the inn keeper noticed a young family with a baby on the way. Maybe the keeper said, "my domain is too full for your situation."  

If I am in charge of my small kingdom then I must maintain it and manage it in order to receive affirmation from it.

I think my frustrating outbursts reflect my small-kingdom management. The normal issues teenagers have conflicted with my idea of how they should act. Correcting kids is fine when in the context of wisdom and grace.

But over-reacting to manage family outcomes isn’t my best parenting move.

With a closer look, I see a connection between managing outcomes and managing pain. 

My kids are growing up and slowly moving out from under our domain as parents. That is painful. I'm not as cool as I once was. As funny as that sounds, it feels like a loss.

Instead of managing pain in my small kingdom, I want to make room and let Jesus sit with me. His Kingdom is at hand. He is here and with me in loss.

Slowly releasing my inn keeper mentality is inviting Christ to be born in me. 

Making room for me means providing space to grieve. It opens me up to experience the reality of God's kingdom. 

The kingdom of God is unshakeable, immovable, and not in trouble. King Jesus is not worried or flustered. He is overflowing with a joy that is available to me in the mundane.

Frustration can be a gift. When my small kingdom gets cluttered and tight then frustration can lead me to open the doors, set the table, and ready the guest room. 

Several weeks ago Emily's podcast provided a practical step that solidified this pre-holiday move of my soul. Her simple challenge:  

“Make room on purpose.”

The answer for my soul isn’t the act of making room but it does hold the answer. Make room to invite Christ into the intimate places of our soul.

I love what she said:

"Like Rahab, whose name means broad, large, a vast space of land, who betrayed her own people to assist the people of God, who made room for spies to find protection from capture, danger, and death, we, too, make room for righteousness and goodness to come take up residency within us. 

Like Mary, the mother of God, who had never known a man, who had other plans for her life, who never asked for the choosing, we make room for the Holy interruption to come and weave life in unexpected ways at unplanned times for the sake of an unknown people." 

Make room.

This little phrase has help me move from frustration to joy. If my soul is occupied with the Kingdom of Christ, there’s lightness, laughter, and a bit more smiling.

This soulful movement from frustration to joy could be helpful for your holiday preparations. Here are the steps that aided my move from frustration to joy.

  • Listen to Emily's podcast The Next Right Thing Episode 63

  • Slowly read and meditate on these passages about preparedness 

    • Mark 1:1-4; 14:13-16

    • Ps. 31:3-5

  • Plan moments of silence or a walk around the block without your phone

  • Carry the questions into your time of prayer:  What might be cluttering up your heart? What loss might you need to grieve? What newness might God be bringing into your life?

Again, making room isn't the solution but can lead to the solution. This shift from frustration to joy is a gift to those around you. 

Thank you for reading and your support of this soul care work here in Greensboro.