Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pet Peeves

“The Lord foils the plans of nations, frustrates the designs of peoples. But the plan of the Lord stands forever, wise designs through all generations.” Psalm 33: 10-11

Do you have any pet peeves? I know I do. Just today I experienced one I can’t stand: I couldn’t park in the last available parking space in a parking lot because someone decided their car was too precious for one spot and so they took two. I think we all have pet peeves. And at the heart of the matter is that we have things that annoy us. But when we really think about it, is the annoyance the fault of the person who annoyed me, or my own? I know when I was a kid my one younger brother would go out of his way to annoy me with all kinds of things. I would ask him to stop, but when he wouldn’t, inevitably it would end with me hitting him and me getting in trouble. And when I would complain to my mom about what he was doing to me, she would always respond by telling me that no one can annoy us, we can only allow ourselves to be annoyed.

Now I love my mom dearly, but I thought that was horse-pucky. My brother was certainly annoying me, whether I allowed it or not. But you know what, now that I’ve gotten older I have amended my thoughts on this just a little bit. While I still believe that someone can annoy us, I think there are also times when we can allow ourselves to be annoyed. The difference is whether the person is trying to annoy us or not. For instance, in my pet peeve from above, the person was not trying to annoy me. Sure, they might have been being selfish, or at least thoughtless, but they were not thinking of me at all. They were just thinking that their car needed extra space so it wouldn’t get scratched (or they are just really bad at parking). Either way, their intention was not to hurt me, so if got annoyed by what they did, it was my choice.

On the other hand, if someone is going out of their way to try and rile us up or get us upset or annoy us, then they do bear some of the responsibility. But ultimately, I do have to agree with my mother, how I react to them, even if they are intentionally trying to hurt me, is really up to me. I might not be able to help being hurt or annoyed by them, but I can control my reaction. And this is a sign of spiritual maturity.

Sometimes we can get frustrated with God, too. And you know what, when we do it is a sign of spiritual immaturity. We become like toddlers having a tantrum because they didn’t get what they want. Why does God foil the plans of nations and frustrate people? Because He knows better what we need than we do. And sometimes out of love for us, He tells us no. And that can be frustrating. But rather than get annoyed and lashing out at God, why don’t we try trusting His “no”? It will certainly be less frustrating.

Dear Jesus, please help to let go of my pet peeves. Help me to more acceptable of people and grant me the grace to trust in You and be content when you tell me “no”. Amen.

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