The ‘Very Frustration of Life’

Read this quote this week.
And it’s pretty much captured my attention.

“There are countless ways in which this (spiritual journey) may happen: sometimes under conditions which seem to the world like the very frustration of life, of progress, of growth.  Thus boundless initiative is chained to a sick bed and transmuted into sacrifice; the lover of beauty is sent to serve in the slum, the lover of stillness is kept on the run all day, the sudden demand to leave all comes to the cone who least expects it, and through and in these apparent frustrations the life of the spirit emerges and grows.” 

From The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill

I must have read it a dozen times before I started to get it.

Read it again.  This time remember that the word ‘frustrate’ has an older meaning with more depth than our everyday use.  Here’s a definition: Frustrate: To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart.

So what do you think of this? Anything stand out to you?

9 thoughts on “The ‘Very Frustration of Life’

  1. Makes me think of children.

    How many times were we as kids frustrated that our parents who actually CARED for us would not just let us do (or give us) what ever we wanted??

    How did we not come to see that a Loving Parent who is wise and kind has to frustrate our childish, unthought out very well, selfish, immature ‘wants’?

    How long before we all ‘get’ that He knows us better than we do and learn how to grow our spirit through frustrating the wants of the flesh – the childish, full of ego-driven desires we think are ‘important’ and we have to satisfy to be ‘happy’?

    Of course knowing and actually DOING are not always the same thing ;-)

    The growing in Spirit takes some of us a VERY LONG Time – frustrating isn’t it? ;-)


  2. I find solace in this. I’m not alone in my struggle. “…the lover of stillness is kept on the run.” That is my life in a sentence! I don’t have any answers except savoring the moments that come and focusing on the fact that every season in life is just that…a season. Thanks for sharing this, friend!

    • Cynthia, you’ve written the other half of my response! (Matt was the first half). There’s my cynical side, and there’s the side that finds relief in this. Like I realize for the first time that it’s not me doing something wrong, or managing things in the wrong way. It’s Just The Way It Is. And the struggle is to deal with it with maturity and God-centered responses, right?

  3. Great quote to provoke thought.

    I wish I had a wise follow up for this, but I really don’t. To be honest, this concept is my biggest frustration in life: feeling like I could or should be doing something specific and could do it well, yet it is the infinitely dangling carrot. I love it, I want it, but I never achieve it. I let it go and forget about it, yet it still never comes to me.

    But I suppose this is where I get to live out my belief that God’s plans are not set out to harm me but to make my life prosperous.

    Grandma always said: “The sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour.”

    • I know what you mean, Matt. There’s a cynical part of me that wonders why we were created the way we are if we’re going to spend our lives being thwarted. I know that isn’t the whole picture, and I really don’t fully see that as being true. It just seems that way sometimes.

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