If everyone who reads this post would give two or three answers to the title question there would be a lot to read! I’m not asking you to send me your answers, but I would like you to think of a couple of things that irritate you. Most of us probably have a few in common, and a few of us may have one or two that are unique to us. If anyone says nothing irritates him or her, you are more mature than the rest of us, or you may struggle with honesty.
The reason this is on my mind is because I have been regularly irritated with many drivers on my side of the city. There are two specific places where I make a right hand turn from one road to another, and the road I’m turning onto has a lane exclusively for those entering. What irritates me is that almost every driver in front of me stops, looks back, and waits until there is an opening to move into the next lane while ignoring hundreds of feet of entry lane. These are not freeway entries, but the principle is the same. Why can’t these drivers see that and keep going?!?!
As much as I would like to, I do not sit on my horn and shake a fist at them. Surprising to me, I don’t even blow my horn or give them a dirty look. Believe it or not (some of you won’t), I patiently and calmly wait for them to get out of the entry lane, and then I model the way the engineers planned the road construction by slowly continuing in the entry lane and merging behind the person who irritated me. So far I don’t think anyone has caught on.
The purpose of this blog is not to impress you with my driving, or to instruct readers about entering surface streets that have entry lanes. In addition to asking about what irritates you, I want to ask you two additional questions: why does what irritates you irritate you, and what does your irritation lead you to do? Questions two and three are more important than the first one I asked at the beginning. I confess I am a person who is too easily irritated–and that is not becoming of a pastor, Christian, husband, father, or grandfather.
The reason I am convicted about being easily irritated is because in I Corinthians 13:5 the Apostle Paul tells us love “is not irritable” (New Living Translation and English Standard Version) or “not touchy” (Living Bible and Phillips Modern English). I think some the other translations are more definitive: “isn’t quick tempered” (CEV), “is not easily provoked” (KJV), “is not easily angered” (NIV), and “is not quick to take offense” (NEB). Real love is more than just not being irritable–love is not easily irritated. In his commentary on I Corinthians, Gordon Fee tells us the verb is in the passive voice and “it suggests that the one who loves is not easily provoked to anger by those around him or her.”
You can see why I am troubled by being too easily irritated. I want to be a loving person; and being easily annoyed by what others do is not loving. It’s really not about being irritated by drivers who don’t understand the entry lane. It’s about being easily irritated by and expressing that irritation to those who are close to me—those I love. I think what I need to do is stay aware of my tendency, consider why I am too often touchy, and keep on monitoring and restraining my response when I am irritated. After all, these are people I love.
Where are you with this unattractive trait? It can be irritating, can’t it?
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Picture used with permission of our grandson’s mother, our daughter.