Exasperate

There are times I get exasperated. They are mostly when I want to do something but I just can't. Someone might be bugging me and getting in my way, or I have run up against a blockage of some sort.

The most exasperating sort of blockage is where I am trying to talk to someone but they are not listening, or they are 'listening' which means letting me talk, but then not taking me seriously and not doing anything differently.

I looked up the ever-trusty google for a definition of exasperate and found this: To trouble the nerves or peace of mind of, especially by repeated vexations.

The thesaurus threw some extra words into the mix: aggravate, annoy, bother, bug, chafe, disturb, fret, gall, irk, irritate, nettle, peeve, provoke, put out, rile, ruffle, vex.

And don't forget the idioms: get in one's hair, get on one's nerves, get under one's skin.

I bring this up because I have been thinking a great deal about this verse:

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

I have never heard a talk on this, and have never seen it addressed in the many parenting books I have read in my time.

We are not to exasperate our children. That means we don't bug, needle, annoy, irritate them. We don't get in their way, we don't put them out, we don't rile them.

I think I may have read this verse like this in the past: Fathers, don't exasperate your children, from your point of view.

But it doesn't say that. If someone is exasperated, they are exasperated. If we think their exasperation doesn't matter so much because they are children and their priorities don't count as much as adult priorities, we need to re-read this verse.

Ways children might get exasperated: not being really listened to - and not just words but in what's behind their words, not being taken seriously, having their wants dismissed, being teased without end, not being given enough time to get used to a change of activity or plan, being laughed at, being roughly treated.

It means I have to be more present, physically and emotionally, with my children, reading their signals and hearing their language, and showing through my life and my words, the love and patience of Christ for them.