Frustration: The Agonizingly Slow Pace of Transformation.

Whether you embrace change, or change is thrust upon you without warning – the process of transformation is long and hard. I have long been a lover of Henri Nouwen’s journal of letters to himself, “The Inner Voice of Love”. If I was to minister to myself; this is what I would remind myself of.

“You need to recognize the difference between change and transformation. You keep expecting that these external circumstances that reflect change around you, will mirror or gauge the change within you. But you don’t change, people can only transform. One thing must become another. You can’t tear out your heart and simply replace it with a new one, much as one relationship cannot be exchanged for another. We must transform. So these external changes you are processing, can transform you internally, if you choose. But you must choose this: it will not simply happen by osmosis. It is too easy to adopt new behaviours and claim newness, when really all you are doing is maintaining a facade.

That’s not the life you want; you know that. Your spirit yearns for explosive, dynamic honesty: the challenge of brightness, vibrancy. So you must find ways to be your honest, true self in the midst of all this change. You will have to choose to accept the things that have happened to you, but you can choose how they transform you. You must choose not just how you will respond externally, but internally. Your trust has been broken; choose to trust differently – do not simply adopt a lack of trust. You loved and were broken: choose to learn new ways of loving.

I’m sorry about the frustration you are feeling. I’m sorry that you are experiencing it so strongly because frustration is such a painful and pointless emotion, a perspective that only hinders us and offers no propulsion. Where anger might initiate some movement or forward (sometimes backward) action on our part, frustration is the anti-thesis of that. Frustration leaves us feeling stuck, which leads to acting as though we are stuck. Often, frustration leads us to fight against the current, rather than working with the current to move on, move forward, move sideways. Frustration can be redundant because it doesn’t offer any pathways forward. You cannot remain here without succumbing to staleness.

Yet I suspect we feel more comfortable talking about our frustrations rather than our anger or our grief, for the very reason that frustration allows us to rest in being stuck for a while. It’s a wallow, it’s a unpeaceful respite, it’s sometimes an excuse.

I think sometimes we are too easily frustrated by a lack of progress or visible movement, that leaves us feeling as though we are not achieving what we had hoped for.  and frustration sets in because there is no obvious clue as to when circumstance might change.

I’m disappointed with you, because frustration is such a redundant emotional choice. You wrestle between your heart and your head all day long, at times convinced you should let your head do all the decision-making, at times caught up by what your heart feels. You know that your emotions have the loudest voice, but they are the worst guide. Don’t confuse your emotions with your spirit. Your spirit is where wisdom lies, wisdom should be the guide you follow now, the balance between your head and heart.

Frustration isn’t the only poor emotional choice you’ll make, if you don’t start letting your spirit walk the line you’re trying to find. Poor choices lead to bad habits, bad habits lead to predictability and you’ll bore me and everyone else if you become a predictable shadow of yourself. Other people and your own untrustworthy heart will tell you how to be; unless you choose for yourself how this process will transform you.

I was thinking on the way to work this morning about how difficult that place is. i was crawling at snail’s pace into the city and it made me think of those childhood days when the smallest things were fascinating. i remember watching a snail making it’s way along the path leading to the back yard when I was five years old. I was wondering what does progress feel like to a snail? Is it only my perception of speed and distance that made him seem so slow? Did he feel his own pace in relation to the world around him? My sisters and I running through the backyard and climbing trees must have seemed like giants and supercharged speed demons… nothing more than a blur to him.

If I watched him millimetre by millimetre, it seemed achingly slow. but I remember looking up, distracted by something in the sky or my mother’s voice and turning back, to discover he had moved a whole inch! Did it seem like miles to him?

I don’t know if it’s perception, or perspective that brings understanding or more importantly peace. To perceive is to suggest insight, which is the starting point of wisdom. Perspective offers more information than the narrow view where you might be standing.

You’ll only be stagnant and putrefy if you’re not oxygenated, and you’re definitely not that.. you might be moving at snail’s pace but you are definitely moving. I guess the universe’s timing doesn’t seem to be the same as mine…. and it’s timing that we have the biggest communication difficulties with. At the end of the day though, small, slow steps or not… I’m still climbing the mountain… and when I need encouragement I turn around and admire the view of where I’ve been from where I’ve got to already… and try not to think so hard about how terrifying the view ahead is (sometimes the thought of where I want to be brings more frustration than motivation).

Remember, we cannot allow choices to be dictated by circumstance… then simply coast along allowing things to happen, giving yourself an excuse every other day to be less that what you are. “

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