High River United Church of High River, Alberta

Pandemics are Frustrating

Feeling a little “edgy”?  Maybe a tad more irritated than usual?  Perhaps a wee bit “short” with your spouse? Or, not so patient with the kids?  Do little things seem to tick you off?  Do you notice, how shall we say this, more f-bombs in your daily vocabulary?  Does it feel like there’s more anger around you?  Be honest, now.


If you are experiencing any, some, or all the above at any given time, you are frustrated.  Frustration happens when something is not working.  It is a primary emotion that surfaces very quickly when we come up against something that can’t be fixed or something that can’t be changed.  Emotion has the word “motion” in it.  Like an electrical charge, emotions must move through and be discharged. But what if that frustration in us can’t move?  What if it can’t discharge and gets stuck?  It will turn into anger and aggression which is not good for us or those around us so… let’s walk around frustration for a bit.


All mammals experience frustration—yes, all mammals.  For example, it’s calving season right now and you may have witnessed a mother cow show frustration when the calf is demanding milk at the “wrong time”.  So, we’re not the only ones on the planet who have frustration.  It’s a thing.  It’s real. We have emotions.  It’s nature’s design.  It’s not good or bad.  It just is.  So, taking up a relationship with frustration is helpful.  If we can simply accept the frustration when it comes upon us, then there’s a really good chance we can let it move through us in a healthy and grown-up way.


How do we let frustration move us?  It starts when we notice something is not working and despite our abilities, we can’t fix it, change it or make it better.  Sometimes, we just need to have our sadness about it.  Or we mix in some humour or a playful thought to help temper the frustration so that it can exit safely.  Like, “I can’t believe I forgot my mask again!” But if that is not available to us, how can we let the intensity of the frustration out so as not to cause harm to ourselves or others? 


Do we need to throw rocks in the river? Or find something appropriate to tear up, like an old phone book? Maybe a run, a walk, a hike, or a safe door to slam.  (If you are slammer, choose wisely that which shall be slammed since replacing a kitchen cabinet door or a vacuum cleaner handle might mean an expensive repair.  Just saying.)  So, decide ahead of time your best safe way to let the frustration exit. Play with it. 


Pandemics are frustrating.  So much is not working for us right now.  We’re apart from each other.  We can’t travel.  We can’t have family gatherings.  We can’t grieve and mourn our loved ones in ways that are usual.  Things take longer.  And the virus doesn’t care.  So yes, we need to have our tears around the things we cannot change about this pandemic. Tears of futility are nature’s design to help us adapt and discover our resilience. 


We need to find the safe and appropriate ways to discharge the frustration - playing a musical instrument, gardening, journaling, painting, photography, shovelling snow, or more hopefully, mowing the lawn!  


When the pandemic frustrates us, there’s another way forward, too.  We mix in compassion.  We remember that the very things that frustrate us may in fact be the very things that protect us from illness and save a life.  Compassion slows our frustration and anger. In the book of Proverbs, we read: Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife, but those who are slow to anger calm contention. (Proverbs 15:18)



Rev. David



Frustration 2



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