Earlier this week, I reminisced about the good ol’ days of college bathrooms as I shared with you about my current silly bathroom frustration. Little did I know that, a few days later, I would stand in a nice hotel room having another moment of foot fear. This time, it wasn’t the fungus of a community shower that got me. Instead, I looked down to see an army of ants crawling near my feet. Oh, how I wished I had my flip-flops… among other things!
I hadn’t noticed any ants when we’d arrived the day before. When I did see them, they were marching directly to and from a pistachio that must have dropped from my hands the night before. Having said that, a room doesn’t get infested with ants overnight. I’m sure they were somewhere in my invisible midst when we arrived. Yet it was only when I introduced the pistachio to their little world that they gathered the courage to show themselves.
I can’t help but think this very same dynamic occurs when it comes to patterns of frustration in our lives. Something relatively minor gets dropped into the landscape of our mind. Maybe your pistachio is a difficult attitude of a family member or co-worker. Perhaps it’s the predictably annoying habit you or someone close to you repeats. All of a sudden, the ants of negativity stick out their necks from their place of hiding and decide to latch onto the food source. All the negativity of the enemy had simply been waiting for a reason to activate. So, what can we do to keep from becoming held captive?
Here are 2 ways to keep from repeating the cycle of frustration with day-to-day concerns:
- Minor on the Minors
This is a familiar phrase I hear from my husband. Let’s say you have a child or a husband who refuses to put their dishes in the dishwasher. It feels so stupid to type. But after asking for the 100th time, it becomes the pistachio. Instead of remembering that your family member has great character, is a kind person, and works hard, what do we do? We fixate on the one outage and convince ourselves they’re doing this sinful act to spite us. If it’s our child, we usually convince ourselves this is a fatal character flaw that must be corrected to spare their doom (and our embarrassment). Really? If only we would step back and consider, “Is this a minor or a major? Is this worth wasting my energy on? Will my reaction bring any change to the situation?” If only we would identify what really matters and not waste our energy on the minor things… especially when a frustration involves relationships.
- Capture the Pistachio
The truth is that we must take our thoughts captive or they’ll capture us! We can’t control other people but we can control our responses. Our response is our responsibility. Let’s say finances have a tendency to get you frustrated. You can allow it to color every area of your life or you can capture the pistachio. Identify the core problem, make a plan, and then work that plan. Enlist the help of someone good at dealing with your pistachio. Once you have a plan, you’re then doing what you can do. Even though it takes time to replace bad habits with good ones, your proactive steps and involvement of others can help you keep a healthy perspective as you take steps forward.
We have the choice whether to take our thoughts captive or whether we will be held captive. Let’s conquer the small things in our lives that we allow to create frustration.
Join me next week as I explore how to obey our call to take our thoughts captive when we are dealing with the big macadamia nuts of the world!