Irritation, annoyance, nuisance, disappointment, dissatisfaction, aggravation. All these words are synonyms for frustration. Some like irritation are quite mild. Others like aggravation carry more potency.

Frustration.

That feeling that comes when plans go awry; when expectations are not met; when we can’t see the way ahead.

It’s hard to settle for what is when what we hoped for seems out of reach. It’s hard to settle down to the things we must do when the things we want to do aren’t available to us. It’s hard to get motivated when hopes have been disappointed and we’re left with far less than what was expected.

Frustration.

A part of every person’s life. Toddlers scream, stamp their feet and roll on the floor. Teens slam doors, cry and shout. Adults get angry over little things, withdraw from those they love, are prickly to be around.

Frustration.

As I write this I sit looking out at the most beautiful scene. Palm trees wave slightly in the tropical wind. The ocean is lapping at the shore only metres from my room. The sun is shining and the sky a marvellous clear pale blue. But…I’m in isolation. A touch of Nauru belly means I’m isolated from others. Yes, I’m in my own room, but I was here all day yesterday and I will be all day today. Isolated. No-one can visit. I can’t go out.

I only have 21 days here and I’m spending at least 2 of them in my room. I’m not doing what I came here to do. I don’t feel particularly productive. I’m isolated and frustration is knocking at the door.

There’s a crazy verse in the Bible that says to give thanks in all circumstances. The really crazy thing about these words is that they were written by a man in jail, who had spent much of his life being pursued, harassed and tortured because of his faith. And he could still write: give thanks in all circumstances!

So I’ll take a leaf out of Paul’s book.

Instead of letting frustration get a foot in the door, I’m going to give thanks in these circumstances. I’m going to look for what I have in the situation, rather than what I don’t have. What I have, now that I’m isolated and away from all that is happening on the island, is time to write. I have time to study. I have time to plan what I can do when I return to work. I have time to think (and that can be a dangerous thing!) I have time to reflect on what I’m doing and why. I also have time to just sit, to rest, to take time out.

It’s always a choice. I can choose to be frustrated because my plans have been interrupted. Or I can choose to give thanks for the many things that are good in my life.

I know which one I’m choosing (and it’s not frustration!)

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