I don’t like being inconvenienced. When I’ve got my 3-year-old by the hand, the diaper bag on my back, my 14-month-old on my hip, and we’re headed out the door, I don’t like having to stop and reverse because my younger girl just pooped in her diaper. I don’t like when we’re poised to arrive at an appointment in the nick of time, but then we’re delayed by road construction and end up being late. I don’t like when I’m waylaid by a power outage when I’m about to start making dinner. How do you feel about inconveniences like these?
I gave a lot of thought to inconvenience a couple of weeks ago when the hard drive on my computer failed. It was inconvenient to be without a computer. Though I knew it wasn’t a big deal, I felt upset because I couldn’t work on this blog, I couldn’t type up my family’s menu or grocery list, and I couldn’t respond to emails in a timely manner.
As you can see, I feel frustrated when I’m inconvenienced. Whether the interruptions are big or small, I bristle at them because they mess with my plans and my flow. The problem with this is that inconveniences are unavoidable and sometimes they’re even good. I’m learning to embrace inconvenience because I want to respond well to interruptions and to take advantage of those that can be beneficial.
How to embrace inconvenience
I believe there are a number of things we can do to gradually change our perspectives on inconvenience.
- Remember that inconveniences are often ministry opportunities. Have you ever noticed how often Jesus was inconvenienced? One time, when Jesus was on his way out of a city, he was interrupted by a blind beggar who repeatedly shouted out for Jesus to have mercy on him. Others told the man to be quiet, but he kept shouting until he had Jesus’ attention (Mark 10:46-52). Another time, when Jesus was on his way to heal the child of a synagogue ruler, a crowd pressed against him. He was interrupted when an unseen woman grabbed his cloak. Power went out from him and healed the woman of hemorrhage. Jesus stopped to see who had touched him (Mark 5:21-43). Jesus didn’t grow frustrated at these inconveniences; he met the needs of those who had interrupted him. If we look closely, I think we will also find ministry opportunities in many of the inconveniences we face.
- Make the most of inconvenient situations. When I respond to inconvenience with frustration, my energy is taken up by this emotion instead of being focused on something productive. It’s much more useful for us to make the most of inconvenient situations. I felt like sulking when I was unable to type up blog posts because I was without a computer. However, I was able to make the most of the situation by using my time to do some extra weeding in the garden and to complete some extra housecleaning. Likewise, when we’re stuck in traffic, we can focus on figuring out an alternative route (if we need to get where we’re going quickly) or we can sit back and use the time to get in some extra prayer or have meaningful conversations with the family members in the car with us.
- Learn from inconveniences. Sometimes inconveniences result from our own actions. Running out of gas is inconvenient and it happens if we don’t fill our tanks when they get low. Finding that all of the white clothes in a laundry load have been dyed pink is inconvenient and it happens if we don’t pay attention when sorting clothes. Finding the store shelves stripped of batteries and bottled water before a big storm is inconvenient but it wouldn’t be if we kept well-stocked emergency kits. If we humble ourselves and learn from inconveniences, then we may be able to avoid experiencing some of them in the future!
- Consider the big picture. It can be incredibly helpful to put inconveniences in perspective. Though there are exceptions, most inconveniences are inconsequential. They may be annoying or frustrating, but they are trivial. We won’t even remember many of them twenty-four hours after they happen! Here are a few Bible verses that help us keep inconveniences in perspective:
- “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
- “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
- “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5
- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I’ve become a little more tolerant of inconvenience as I’ve used these strategies over the last couple of weeks. I still have a ways to go, but I’m glad I’m making progress.
What about you? Do you become frustrated when you are inconvenienced? How do you put these interruptions in perspective and even embrace them?
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