Do you ever wish you could run away to live in the woods or in a shack by the beach and throw away your cell phone, your telephone, your computer, your tablet, and your modem? I’m on the edge of considering becoming a hermit to set myself free from all those sometimes fun and useful things. They’re great when they work in the background and don’t get in the way. Today it felt like everything was getting in the way. (Can you tell I’m feeling frustrated?)
This afternoon I hoped to write on a book I’m working on. Instead, I dealt with technology. If only I did not have to deal with misbehaving software, forgotten ID’s and demands for unique 20-character passwords with special requirements from every single internet site I visit, online-only support options when websites don’t work (expecting me to sift through pages and pages of FAQs that don’t apply), and telephones that answer electronically with 10 menus to choose from (none of which cover my particular need at the moment)! On top of that, my landline telephone has turned into a magnet for every sales marketer, scam artist, and charitable-contribution-solicitor east of the Pacific Ocean, so that I sometimes think I’m paying for my phone service just so they can have the benefit of using it for their purposes.
All these things that seem to have hijacked my day raise the issue of time for me – it all feels like they’ve wasted my time. But, I have to confess, once I face this fact I realize that it’s actually a question of patience: my lack of it. If truth be told, my reaction to these things, the frustration I indulge in, reveals to me the hidden bias I have of my own entitlement. How dare they waste my time this way? Why should I have to jump through hoops to get the help I need? Why do these things not work the way they should (which is to say, so that someone as hurried and untutored as I am can operate them without needing an expert’s help)? Why isn’t it easier so that it doesn’t keep me from doing the things I want to do, the things that seem important to me?
And suddenly I’m back in Lent, facing my own faults. Not fault in the sense of blame, but in the sense of a flaw. I am a flawed human being, living in an imperfect world (i.e., one that isn’t oriented toward assuring things are easy for me!). Running away from people and things that test me won’t change that. That’s when I discover (once again — I’ve been here before!) that the world’s imperfections actually can serve a strangely positive purpose. They help me to recognize my own flaws, and that can inspire in me a fresh touch of humility and challenge me to practice the patience with others that I sometimes lack. We rub against each other, and in the chafing of our faults together either we learn tolerance and forgiveness or wither in resentment. Running away from whatever frustrates me – technology, people, situations, challenges – is only running away from myself, and we all know that doesn’t work!
So I guess I need to learn to be grateful for the frustrations of life. They seem to be the gift of God to this rough-hewn stone (me!) that needs some polishing. Surely God is good! In the wisdom and grace of God everything becomes grist for the mill. Everything points in the end to grace. If only I can remember to take the trouble to see things in the right light.
I hope you’re having a decidedly UN-frustrating day today. But whatever the day brings you, I wish you peace — and maybe just a small gift of self-discovery to spice your day!