The importance of frustration

“Educational theory tells us people really only learn out of frustration- the frustration that they don’t know but need to, the frustration that life isn’t working but there could be a better way. Frustration is not a bad thing- it’s a necessary thing.”
– Doug Pagitt

In case you hadn’t grasped the connection yet, the picture above is of Pagitt himself. I’ve been reading Preaching Re-Imagined, a great great book that’s scratching me where I itch right now. Introduction aside, my girlfriend Bethany and I have talked about Pagitt’s subject often recently (really over the course of our entire friendship that moved into a dating relationship); reality is often frustrating! And we often interpret that frustration as a negative thing. But what if that frustration is neither positive nor negative, but instead teaches us that reality is mysterious and complex, and so we can’t nail it down right away? So we wrestle with ideas and people and remain committed to growth and find that somehow, in the midst of the frustration, some degree of clarity arises that wouldn’tve if we hadn’t let the frustration motivate us.

Some issues that were before complex will become clear, some issues that we assumed were clear before will become complex, and some of reality remains downright mysterious. I like that. I like that that reality demands I be in relationship with others. I love that Bethany and I have the kind of relationship to be able to wrestle with these things and trust one another along the way. I hope to continue to grow in my relationships with others to have that same kind of mutuality, trust, and room to wrestle, vent, and grow. A good goal, I think.

So what do you think? Frustration negative? positive? both? why?

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