Overcoming annoyances

A Christian Science perspective: How can we handle frustration prayerfully?

I was annoyed. My Internet was down, and I’d been on hold with the provider for 20 minutes. Then, just as I was finally being transferred to an operator, the call dropped.

Annoyance level: code red.

But as I went to redial, a thought hit me. An idea so compelling that I had to listen to it: “Is getting annoyed going to speed you toward your goal?”

I felt sheepish. The answer, of course, was “no.”

Then another thought came – it was a prompting to pray. It dawned on me that in any situation, no matter how annoying it seemed, I had the opportunity to turn to God in prayer and ask the question, “Father (God), what is needed here?”

I’ve learned that God often speaks to us through ideas that come to our receptive thought. These inspirations are always good and unselfish, and they point unmistakably to something higher – namely, God. The fact is that these healing thoughts don’t just come to me; they come to all of us. They’re evidence of the Christ speaking to us – God’s message of salvation to each of His children. And when we follow these Christ-messages, tangible blessings follow.

So that’s what I did. Right in that moment, as I made my way through the automated menu for the second time, I asked the question, “Father, what is needed here?” The answer came that I could feel at peace and trust God to meet my need, because peace is given to me from God, the source of all.

Waiting on hold again, I prayed to feel that God-given peace – the peace Christ Jesus promised to each of us when he said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27).

Within about five minutes, the annoyance had vanished. And within about 10 minutes, my Internet had been restored.

The moral of the story, of course, isn’t that I’m reconnected to the Web, but that this small experience showed me how to deal with situations that would attempt to coerce me into feeling annoyed.

In the weeks since this incident, I’ve had plenty of opportunities not just to put this idea, “Father, what is needed here?,” into practice, but also to think more deeply about why this simple prayer is such a wonderful antidote to annoyance and frustration. The short answer: Because turning toward God’s all-encompassing presence and power leaves no room for anger – annihilating it completely.

Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve learned that God, good, created us in His likeness – spiritual, not material, harmonious, not discordant. That means that God’s universe, where we dwell right now and always, could never be rife with alarming problems, or blighted by petty annoyances. Not when the divine creator is, as Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, defined Him: “Spirit; Mind; intelligence; the animating divine Principle of all that is real and good” and, “God, who made all that was made and could not create an atom or an element the opposite of Himself” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 583).

When we pause in prayer to open our thought to it, that “animating divine Principle” is what impels each of us to know and feel the power of good, and the presence of divine Love, God, in any situation. It’s what erases the frustration and irritation that tempt us to believe that we’re cut off from what we need, or that we’re at the mercy of someone else’s behavior. It replaces annoyance with love and patience, and animates us to express loving thoughts and actions.

Like the work meeting that left me wrestling with annoyance toward a co-worker until I prayed, “Father, what is needed here?,” and the simple idea came to see and appreciate the good in her. When my heart filled with the understanding of how divine Love had made her, there simply wasn’t any room for irritation.

These are baby steps toward the realization that awaits each of us: That in a wholly-good universe, maintained, supported, and blessed by a wholly-good creator, no source for annoyance exists, because no atom or element opposite to God, good, exists. Each time I ask God to show me how to respond to a situation, how to feel more of the constancy of His loving presence, I catch a glimpse of this sublime fact. And the peace that comes with this dawning understanding is as real and reliable as Jesus promised.

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