These last few weeks have been intense as I try to balance the holiday hustle with completing a project and studying for a big test both due just after the new year begins. I had been spending every coherent moment outside of work trying to get make some progress on these fronts. In one such project-working session, I was making several trips between my favorite chair and the printer. I would find an article I needed, print it, read it, summarize it. Find the next article on my list and repeat the process. I could have streamlined this a little but the trips to the printer were breaking up what would otherwise be hours of sitting. The simple routine worked until my printer started protesting.
I wasted no time in protesting back! There was a paper jam which the printer kept sensing and alerting me about but every time I opened its cartridge door, I could not find the paper jam. I did this a couple of times as the printer incessantly sent messages. My frustrated comments were slowly gaining momentum. I was on the 3rd attempt of getting the printer to print when I realized how silly my frustration in this moment was. I stopped and wrote in my thankfulness journal.
Thank you for old printers and paper jams.
Sure, I was tired and I had been working on this project for hours, but this was an old printer. I bought it my second year of college and it was not new then. It has served me well. It is well over 10 years old and I have not needed to replace it. I could feel myself relax with this realization, and I gave it another try.
This was just a little perspective that turned the tide from frustration to patience. My printer, thankfully, was unaffected by my verbalized frustration but I also know this was not the only time I have been frustrated by something trivial. When moments like these occur in relationships with people, similar outbursts of frustration do a lot of damage. I continued the journal entry:
Where people are involved, Lord, help me be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. Help me remember how valuable they are first, before I prioritize a moment of frustration over their well-being.
My document printed. I was back on track. Read the article. Summarize it. Find the next article on the list. Repeat.
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
James 1:19-20 (NASB)