This summer, I’m using some of our favorite games to talk about related topics. If you missed my first two weeks of this summer blog series about Ticket to Ride or Rack-O, check them out. To make things more fun, I’d love if you’d tag me in photos of your family game nights. For every picture, your family will be entered in a drawing for a “family game night” themed basket. We’ll be doing a drawing at the end of the summer. And don’t forget, you get two entries if you’re playing one of the games I’ve featured in this series.
We discovered this game sort of by accident. My kids and I had an entire day planned. We had some errands to run and then we were headed to the gym. One of the errands was dropping off something at a friends house. They invited us inside and we ended up spending the whole afternoon hanging out and playing games (one of them was, of course, Aggravation). The day wasn’t at all what we planned, but it turned out to be so much better.
Aggravation is a game a lot like Sorry or Trouble where you have to get game pieces (in this case, marbles) around the board and back to your home. It has a little more strategy than similar games and it’s tons of fun. In fact, I’m pretty sure we ordered it from Amazon before even leaving our friends’ house.
The point of this series is, of course, to use the games as a jumping off point, so I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. We all have daily aggravations that can really throw us off.
I don’t know about you, but in times of serious trouble, I cling to God. I always grow closer to him in the big things. But then I spill a big cup of coffee in my car and as my feet get soggy and things are sloshing around, I find myself saying, “God? Where are you? Don’t you love me anymore?” It’s funny. I know. But sometimes it’s in these little daily aggravations, the sort of constant body blows that we can lose our way.
In the summer, I can get bogged down by aggravations. Maybe it’s the heat or a more lax schedule, or the fact that my kids don’t go to school ever. They’re just with me, all day, making sounds, and asking questions and wanting to eat breakfast, lunch, AND dinner every single day. It can be a lot to handle. I don’t know what your aggravations are in your season of life, but I have a few general tips that may help you. Every time I give advice, I worry you might think I have it all figured out. I can assure you, I don’t. But these are things that have worked for me in the past.
Have Regular Rhythms of Rest
This is a phrase I stole when teaching a women’s bible study lesson on the Sabbath. I couldn’t help laughing at the time because when I taught this, I wasn’t even kind of practicing what I was preaching. God has put it on my heart recently to make rest more of a priority. It may not be a whole day of scheduled rest, but rather a regular time to stop and be mindful, or nap, or get creative. Just switch things up so you can have a little reset. This summer, my family is doing a weekly Sabbath. We’re doing what we can to have one day a week set apart for family time, worship, and (you guessed it) rest. The first two were awesome and the third didn’t go well at all. Oh well. We’re choosing to keep it up knowing God will bless our effort to draw close to Him and each other on a regular basis.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Maybe your aggravations are people. Obviously, you can’t just cut everyone out that annoys you. But you can have better boundaries with those who make things really hard. There are people who will pick at you like a scab. Find ways to give them less access to your life. You can love them without allowing them to take advantage of you or make you miserable. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’ll be worth it in the end. And who knows? Maybe this person will see that they need to change? My husband often says, “People aren’t usually wrong on purpose”. I think of that when dealing with difficult people.
I know this feels like the opposite of my last advice. Set boundaries, but also be flexible. I think of that day when we had a list of things to accomplish, but instead we had precious time with good friends making memories. If we’d declined the offer to come inside, we would have made it through our to do list, but we’d never remember that day. Also, we wouldn’t know about this awesome game. Sometimes my aggravation comes from being too rigid for no real reason. This experiment with Sabbath has taught me a lot about being more flexible. Since we do our chores the day before, I’m in a position to say yes to things I’d usually decline. And I don’t mean things that necessarily cost money. My kids will ask to do things like a picnic at the park or disc golfing and it’s easier to simply say, “Yes” when I’m choosing to be flexible.
Sometimes my aggravation is coming from a place of selfishness. I want things to be the way I want them. I have certain expectations and when they’re not met, I get frustrated. I don’t have a cure for that, but getting outside of myself and serving someone sure helps. It’s a change in perspective that helps me feel more content and happy. Also, kids are almost never too young to learn to serve. Whether it’s picking up trash, helping make a meal for someone, or serving at church, kids benefit greatly from engaging in service. They will find joy in it and they will become more compassionate, generous people as a result.
We all have aggravations. Some days are worse than others. Just like the game, we can all feel like we’re just trying to move that marble around the board without getting sent back home by an opponent. But take solace. You’re not alone. And this too shall pass.