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Reaching

Frustration and truth

A recent failure with Remember The Milk's ability to create tasks from labels in Gmail has gummed up both my email inbox and my usual methods of staying on top of my tasks. Ultimately not a big deal; just frustrating to be so easily thrown for a mini-loop. Mostly, it's me throwing a low-level tantrum that things don't work the way I want them to. Now that it's been out a week or so, I'm finally breaking down and implementing a workaround. I'm a bit too huffy and precious for my own good sometimes.

Wish my childishness were limited to my inbox and task list, but of course it isn't. Anytime a system doesn't work (the way I want), it's easy for me to get my nose out of joint about it, often without giving a second thought to the root of my disappointment—myself. That's especially bad practice when others are summarily blamed for my frustration. The process is usually invisible and quick, so I don't examine my underlying assumptions and expectations before becoming (self-)righteously pissed off.

Is it worth the effort to try to screen that stuff out? I think the answer is yes, but not just for the standard "be good to others" reasons. Those are nice, of course, and they have the added value of wide acceptance, which means I get affirmation from others when I jump aboard the train (let's not kid—that's a big motivator for many of us). It's also worth some work on my end because, if I really love others, there are going to be times when telling the truth means needing to confront real issues and outright sin (those who love me will need to do the same). If I've already filled the relational channel with a bunch of my own garbage, there's an additional layer of noise that can get in the way of our hearing one another. Worse by far, it can also get in the way of our hearing God.

Comments

This was interesting! I think it's good for us to think about, why we get upset. I think probably we never really grow out of what triggers tantrums. I look at my kids when they're tantruming and think "that is me, those are my feelings when I don't get what I want, I just have learned to be a little more socially acceptable in expressing them."

What do you think about these tantrums stemming from the fact that we don't have grace towards ourselves? A benevolant father says to a kid who screwed up "it's okay honey." We tell ourselves "you idiot, you screwed it up again" and then we feel ashamed and we tantrum. If we don't have this grace towards ourselves then we can't have it towards others either.

I just thought I'd share my thoughts on it.
I'm of two minds on "grace towards ourselves" (which mind is dominant likely depends on when I'm asked). They're actually connected thoughts rather than opposing ones, though, and they seem to be (at least in part) in line with your thoughts.

Part of me thinks that's spot on. Beating ourselves up because we didn't meet our own expectations is double-edged narcissism—first, things have to be our way, and then, our part in their failure is viewed as so central that it's worth derailing life in order to hammer on ourselves. Brennan Manning's idea of "the wisdom of accepted tenderness" is critical to stopping this cycle: it's not a matter of self-forgiveness, Oprah-style, but rather embracing what God has said about us. We need a word outside ourselves to inform how we live as beloved children. Of course, that also informs how we live with others.

The tension comes when I acknowledge the fact that I cut myself a lot of slack, all the time. So I do give myself lots of leeway (pun intended)—the trick is that much of it isn't true grace. Much of where I let myself off the hook isn't in the places where I need to accept God's grace; rather, it's in the places where I need to follow Him instead of going my own way. When I do that, I'm not embracing God's love for me, and thus, I'm not loving myself or others well.

Godly sorrow has a significant place in a disciple's life, but it's a very different thing than just beating oneself up. I think someone who embraces God's tenderness still has room for that sorrow and doesn't drown it out.