When I’m Really Annoyed

 

pouting-little-girl-istock_000006840535xsmall5It seems that lately I’ve had several conversations with people who are very upset about something. They feel angry, annoyed, hurt, mistreated, misunderstood, etc.

These people find that something or someone has not been fair. Something happened that wasn’t supposed to happen. Something didn’t go the way it was supposed to, or the way they wanted it. Someone let them down. Someone hurt their feelings. Someone got in their way. Somebody was really annoying them.

So they complain. They play the victim. They fuss. They whine. They blame. I find these kind of people very annoying. (Oops. Did I just say that?)

Before I get too self-righteous pointing “them” out, I have to admit that I’m one of “them.” In fact, just the other night I got really upset because I lost a blog post I was writing. I spent hours writing it. It was like slogging through mud. When I finally finished, and hit the “save draft” button, I lost it all. I forgot that I wasn’t connected to the Internet.

I was furious, at myself, at the computer, at the fact I didn’t have wireless Internet in the cabin, and at the WordPress people for not programming some kind of warning message. I was so frustrated, annoyed and angry.

I was even mad at Mike for trying to console me. “Surely you can find a treasure in all of this,” he said. That did it. Nothing is more annoying that having someone use your own advice on you.

I wanted to sulk. I wanted to stomp my feet. I wanted to give up on the whole blogging thing. “It’s too hard anyway,” I whined to myself. I slammed my computer shut and I went back to reading.

I’ve been reading various books on the subject of suffering. While reading, I came across this passage from St. Theophan the Recluse (1815–1894) in a book called The Art of Prayer.

Examine yourself to see whether you have within you a strong sense of your own importance, or negatively, whether you have failed to realize that you are nothing [apart from Christ]. This feeling of self-importance is deeply hidden, but it controls the whole of our life. Its first demand is that everything should be as we wish it, and as soon as this is not so we complain to God and are annoyed with people.

The high value we set on ourselves, in consequence of this feeling of importance, upsets not only our relationship with other men but also our attitude to God. Self-importance is as wily as the devil and cleverly conceals itself behind humble words, settling itself firmly in the heart so that we swing between self-depreciation and self-praise.

I also read an admonition by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807-1867) (from Biography of Abbess Arsenia) where he reminds us of the need to give thanks.

Often in the time of sorrowful depressions, as well as in the time of rejoicing, it is necessary to repeat a word of thanksgiving to God. … “Glory to God for everything,” and then again, “Glory to God for everything!” With this prayer murmuring departs from the heart, confusion disappears, and only peace begins to settle into the heart, and joy. … The Lord has light which chases away any kind of confusion and annoyance. If only the soul would come close to Him in faith.

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thess 5:18)

I’ve always read this verse,  “Give thanks to God FOR all things.” It reads, “… IN all things.” I’m not expected to say, “Thank you God for this awful thing that just happened.” But I am exhorted to say, “God, I thank you IN SPITE OF this situation. You have something to teach me, something within me that needs to be brought to light. Something in me that needs to be conformed into your image. You have some aspect of your character that you want to demonstrate. Thank you for how you are going to redeem and transform this unwanted situation into something beautiful.” That is very different, indeed.

I paused my reading and reluctantly admitted to God that I definitely had within myself a strong sense of my own importance. I agreed with God how very upsetting it was and how ungrateful I had been. I realized that my sense of self-importance really did put a separation between Mike and me (and would have put distance between me and anyone else who might have been there) as well as between God and me.

Thankfully I snapped out of my self-pity and into a state of gratitude. I gave thanks to God, in spite of the fact that my blog post was lost. I thanked him for the opportunity to learn a bit about humility, a quality I want more of in my life.  I thanked him for the discipline of writing and for frustrating and annoying situations. They are the very instruments that show me my true character and what, in my life, needs to be rooted out.

The most important revelation I received through this whole experience, was how quick I am to judge others for what I’m all too often guilty of myself. Isn’t it true that what we find most disagreeable in others is the very thing in our own lives that needs correction?

Thanks be to God for all things.

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49 Responses to “When I’m Really Annoyed”

  1. Gail, this is a fantastic post (probably way better than the one you lost, right?) and a perfect read for Day 1 of Great Lent. Thank you for sharing this treasure.

    • Thanks, John. I thought the same thing yesterday in regard to Great Lent. I had some really tough resolutions with people yesterday and I kept saying to myself, “Glory to God for everything.” All’s well now.

      Thanks be to God.

  2. Gail,
    I am thankful to have stumbled across this this morning. It is very timely. I’ve been reflecting more and more recently on this very thing, as I allow myself to get weighed down by the (sometimes) chaos of life & the challenges of parenting 3 young children (though I cannot deny the absolute JOYs as well). If I try to “control” my life and think I know what’s best, I am miserable. If I surrender, remember WHO God is (his love, grace, goodness, perfection), that He is absolutely trustworthy, and return to a place of gratitude, I am at peace, even in the chaos. But man, can that be hard to do. Thankful for reminders like the one you provided this morning… Thankful others are on the same journey of surrendering and being transformed and for the encouragement…

    Also, I am wondering about some of the books on suffering you mentioned reading. Can you share them?

    • Some great thoughts. Thanks.

      As far as books go. It’s hard to find contemporary ones that speak very well to this issue. Most I’ve found are all about self-actualization, etc., even the Christian ones.

      Many of the books I read are by Orthodox Christians and by people who have lived long before me. Some are fairly obscure. Some are hard to read cuz you need to understand their context, but FILLED w/ wisdom.

      I’ll try to do a post on some of my favorites. Thanks for the prompt.

  3. Bravo! (Now I better send this reply before I lose internet connection) :-(

  4. Gail,

    I ditto the rest of the sentiments above. What a great post. I must say, although I’ve never met you in person (though I saw a brief glimpse of your face at Catalyst last year), what I have seen in your blog and Twitter is the embodiment of grace. In fact, I decided to join the mentor program at church in hopes of learning grace from a wiser woman than me.

    Thank you for the great example.

  5. “He makes all things beautiful”…

    Oh, I am such a slow learner, Gail — relearning and forgetting and relearning. Things I’ve been wrestling through:

    To thank God in all is to bend the knee in allegiance to God Who alone knows all; to thank God in all is to give God glory in all. Is this not our chief end? And that which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem.
    When I only give thanks for some things, aren’t I likely to miss giving God glory in most things?

    When I get to TN (it may not be until winter now?) — you can teach me all He’s teaching you? I would be so grateful, Gail… so grateful.

    Eucharisteo…
    All’s grace because He transfigures all…
    Ann

    • Hi Ann,

      Thanks so much for the visit and for the beautiful thoughts. I have so much to learn from YOU. :-)

      “…that which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem.” This is beautiful and so true. By believing this, imagine what it makes possible!

      Looks like I’ll be in Uganda from mid-Sept to mid-Oct, so don’t come to TN then :-)

      Thanks be to God for all things,
      Gail

  6. Today. Physical therapy for this shoulder thing I have going on. Girl treats me like a CHILD. Like I am someone who can’t take pain. Like a baby. I think to myself, you don’t know me!! You don’t know that I have given birth. 3 times! You don’t know that I run marathons. Up mountains! You don’t know that I ran 28 miles this weekend in 95 degree heat!

    I feel entitled to respect. I am receiving none. Pretty sure I looked very like the little girl at the top of your post. Sans cute blonde curls. :/

    Thanks for reminding me that gratitude undoes my sense of entitlement. That it helps me extend the grace that I so want to receive. I needed this today.

  7. Great post! I’m quick too judge too. God is really working on me in this area. Like over time!

  8. Celia Zehr Kallas Reply July 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I read this several times. Man, Gail, this penetrated my soul!

    “…that shows me my true character and what, in my life needs to be rooted out.” Yes, with open hands and heart, yes.

    Thank you.

  9. Oh boy, did I stamp my feet, like you, when I lost my blog post once? When I finally realized the only thing to do was roll up my sleeves and write it all over again, guess what? The whole piece was better than the one lost in cyber space. Guess God knows best, no matter how much I protest that He doesn’t.

  10. Great blog Gail and very well said! If blogs are hard for you, I can not tell by your writing. I have been working on writing fiction for a while and I feel that I am just learning but one day I lost everything I had been writing. Pages and pages of word count of my beloved story gone. I really don’t know how it happened because I saved it but when I went to work on it the following day, it was not there. Maybe because it was MY beloved story? Anyway, I was really upset and angry.

    Recently, life has been difficult for everyone in my family. I told my daughter and husband the other day, “I know there are no accidents with God and he is in control of everything. He must want to make us better people. He sees what is inside us and know we need to work on these issues.” You really said the same thing just in a better way. Excellent!!!

  11. Duncan,
    Swedenborg? Now that’s interesting. Glad to have made the connection with you regardless of how. :-)
    I checked out your photography. Absolutely gorgeous! Stunning.
    Your beach scene looks like the Gulf in Florida. It that the case?
    Do you live in the south?
    Thanks for visiting.
    Gail

  12. WOW- very timely for me. First time reader. found through twitter searching “Swedenborg” didn’t find the connection.

    Blessings
    D

  13. Thanks for these thots! I’ve been wondering if a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” is what is meant by giving thanks when you are in a situation where you can’t see why to give thanks except that God is good all the time and in Him there is no chance of change.

  14. Gail,

    I’m so glad you lost your blog post. I of all people needed to hear that.

    Thanks be to God.

  15. David, Thanks for reminding me of my own words. I needed a refresher on this one. :-)

  16. Thank you for reposting this blog. Recently I have considered, if I have a life verse it is 1Thes 5:18. So easy to read “in all things give thanks”, harder to put into practice when it is a negative experience, not a positive experience. “All” is a so inclusive verse – nothing can be left out of “all”. Recently I had to have long awaited surgery postponed because of a cold (once surgery is completed, I can make plan to see far away kids). As tough as it was, to my surprise, I could say “ok, this happened, I will give God thanks. Do I have my plans made yet? No, (new surgery date is 6/26). Can I trust God to be in charge of this situation? Yes! Will I always have this right attitude to give thanks for all things. I would like to say yes, but as I write this, I can think of so many things, mostly little, I have not responded in this manner. My hope is to continue to grow in “in all things give thanks” so that this would always be my first response to the big and little things of daily life.

  17. Amy,

    Thanks so much for your comment. Very grateful that God used it to speak to you.

    I am still trying to learn what gratitude is really all about. I’ve got a long way to go … Thank YOU for the reminder. I think I need to read this once a week. Boy is it easy to fall back into old habits.

    Just a beginner,
    Gail

  18. I know you wrote this a while back, but apparently I was not supposed to read it until now. This hit me right between the eyes…and has changed my perspective on a situation in my life right now. I love your prayer of gratitude to God and particularly this statement of the prayer… ” Thank you for how you are going to redeem and transform this unwanted situation into something beautiful.”
    Thank you.
    I hope you are doing well.
    Amy

  19. Gail, this post spoke straight to my heart at a time I REALLY needed to hear it. Thank you for writing it. Love your blog. So excited to be introduced to it. Blessings Twitter Friend!

  20. Gail, you are a treasure. As I read, I nodded in recognition, winced as I was reminded of my own foibles and chuckled at the mental of image of Mike trying to console you with your own words. Youch, hate getting hung on my own petard!

    Most of all, I needed the reminder to look beyond me and remember who is there with me. A friend gave me a plaque that hangs on my wall, it is the last thing I see before I leave the house. Against a picture of the draped cross are the words “remember, I wont send you anything today that we can’t handle”.

  21. Apparently I’m in good company in thinking what a beautiful message this is!

  22. Mom,

    I am amazed. This is perfect for me as you know :). Thanks for giving me wisdom on this subject. Last night in prayer I asks the Lord to grant me the same heart that you have. One that is worry free and open to whatever the Lord may be teaching me.

    It is human nature that we will be annoyed at various things but your are a perfect example of someone who des not surrender to that nature but purseveres to rise above that nature and be TRANSFORMED by the Spirit of the Lord.

    I love you and thank you for your constant encouragement!
    Xoxo

  23. I am one of those people that are constantly annoyed. Coworkers. Fellow parishioners that are more “Greek” than “Orthodox.” Rude drivers. Guilty! Even with this prayer (said at least twice a day, on my desk, on my wall at home) from Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow:

    O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day, reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events let me not forget that all is sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray Yourself in me. Amen

  24. Oh, boy. That smacked me right on the forehead. Ouch.

  25. Excellent comments, Susan. Thanks you so much.

  26. The hard thing about Brianchaninov’s words, for me, is that in the middle of, as he says, “times of sorrowful depressions,” we feel so weighed down that the enemy can easily convince us that it’s just too hard to pray, to even say the words, “glory to God for all things.” Or we feel like a hypocrite for saying something we aren’t sure we believe at that moment. Gregory of Nyssa says we find God in the darkness, like Moses did, in the cloud. I love that Orthodoxy allows us to be real, and not pretend that we’re happy when we’re not. But that it also offers tools for finding our way out of the darkness. One of my favorite of those tools is the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, the Sinner.” When I’m really down, my life line is often just these three words: “Lord, have mercy.”

  27. Thanks Mike. I’m the worst of offenders. But at least I’m consistent … consistently starting over ;-)

  28. Thank you gail. Beautifully said words to reflect on today. What joy could we really experience if only we could master the discipline of putting “self” in it’s proper place. Blessings!

  29. Excellent post. Thanks for the reminder.

  30. Colleen.. I can relate to you for some reason to be annoyed and anger…. All this time it taught me by God’s word.. The lord showed me let it your cares to the lord, trust in him and takes care of our needs. life is not easy since My father has been mental illness for years. Now I trust to the lord that he dealt with my father .. I began to show love to him. Your blog shows honest and bring out feelings for everyday lives. We all know we can give you encouragement and shows love for you.. God bless .

  31. Thanks. I needed to read this………

  32. Ah, what a great reminder–and one I needed this morning during my questioning of God and the situation with my poor father-in-law’s Alzheimer’s. Thank you, Gail, for your transparency!

  33. Gail, I love mornings. Not just because there is a special quality to the air and light that is almost magical but because I know Mike has something on Twitter that is going to help bring me closer to God.
    Your Blog post did not dissapoint. Thank you for being so honest and having the ability to get a strong message across.

    Looking forward to tomorrow morning. No pressure Mike;-)

    God Bless.

    Calum

  34. Well done. I’m afraid I needed that reminder. Not an angry person, but arguing with myself today. Find myself angry with someone else for her drama and its inconvenience to me and angry with myself for my reaction. Angry with her over her sense of self-importance and voila — there I am.

  35. Gail – thanks for this. Love your blog and Mike’s too. Wish we lived closer – I’d take you both out to dinner. Blessings.

  36. Laura,

    I know the feeling only too well. Have a great day and let me know what Treasures you found in it.

    Gail

  37. You stepped on toes this morning – I went to bed annoyed – got up annoyed and now I’m over it! :0)

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