Frustrations, Long Lines, and Attitude

Frustrations, Long Lines, and Attitude

I recently had to get my driver’s license renewed. The local DMV office is usually crowded, even during off-peak hours, so I resigned myself to a wait of a half-hour (or maybe more) to get through the process. Soon after my arrival it became obvious that the photo process was not operating at optimum efficiency. Ah well. I reined in my annoyance, settled into a chair and tried to face the wait with a patient attitude.

Meanwhile the lobby grew crowded as more and more people arrived while very few left with their new license in hand. Exasperated grumbles began to swirl around the room as progress through the photo area ground to a halt. Muttered comments about technical problems were eventually confirmed by an official announcement. Something was malfunctioning and they could not promise how long it would take to fix the problem.

How was I going to respond?

On a logical level the choice lay between waiting it out and coming back another day. (I weighed the cost and decided to stay.) The real battle, however, was in my attitude. I could easily succumb to thinking such as:

  • Why did I have to choose today? Such lousy luck! (Or worse, I could kick myself for not listening to the voice of the Spirit that was surely whispering that I shouldn’t have come today.)
  • Joining in the grumbling, sniping, and eye-rolling that was happening all around me, venting my annoyance at this inconvenient intrusion on my agenda.
  • Dwelling on my mounting impatience, allowing myself to grow more fidgety and stressed with each minute (as I watched them tick by).
  • Scolding myself for not bringing something to read.

But I was determined to make the best of things. I decided not to watch the clock. I spent some time intentionally thinking of reasons to be grateful. (A good way to reset your thinking in any unpleasant situation.) Next I prayed for the diverse cross-section of people who happened to be there that day. (Who knows? Maybe my prayers helped the crowd remain calm.) Then, since it was clear I was in for a lengthy wait, I pulled a notebook from my purse and set to work on solving some plot problems. I have no idea what those around me thought of my alternating mad scribbling and staring off into space, but the task kept my mind busy on something positive, instead of stewing over my frustrations. (For the most part, anyway.)

Eventually I got my new license.

I would like to say that I left the DMV perfectly at peace, having conquered my impatience and risen to a plane above the petty frustrations of inefficiency and bad luck. In reality, despite my best efforts to “not be anxious” and “present my requests to God” I headed home feeling tense and shaky. Not because I was angry or frightened, but simply because the situation had been stressful.

So once again I had a choice. I could berate myself for allowing the situation to get to me, or I could acknowledge the unfortunate reality of my emotions and give myself (and my body) grace. A little session of baking therapy (involving chocolate) helped to soothe my jangling emotions. So did another intentional effort to think of reasons to be grateful. By then I was ready to face what was left of my day.

God’s grace was at work, even in my imperfect efforts. It could have been a lot worse.

How do you deal with the frustrations of life?

About Lisa Betz

Lisa Betz writes from an empty nest perched on a wooded Pennsylvania hillside. When not volunteering at the school, church or library, she writes about life, both now and two-thousand years ago.

Comments

  1. I love how you kept returning to “reasons to be grateful.” It makes such a difference in how we react! Thanks for this post, Lisa.

  2. It’s all in where you CHOOSE to focus!

  3. We were talking about the gratefulness mindset today in church. (Funny how that works.) Where we choose to focus does indeed make a HUGE difference. Hoping all of you have success choosing to focus on gratitude this week.

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