Madeline (5) was all excited about showing me something she was “collecting”. When I peeked into the drawer of her little desk I saw tons and tons of tiny packing foam pieces.
Instead of feeling happy for her, I felt annoyed. My first thought was, “I know where those are going to land, and I know who is going to be the one who has to clean them up.”
I have been feeling annoyed a lot lately and it seems to be crowding out kindness, smiles, compassion and laughter. So it needs to stop! But that is easy to say when everyone is tucked in bed for the night. It is a totally different story once the morning comes and someone drops an entire roll of TP in the toilet and “forgets” to tell me, or a little person flops on the floor because I won’t let them go out and play in their PJs or I can’t get a straight answer out of the insurance company.
I could probably come up with a bunch of excuses, but it’s time to look past the external things and take a closer look at what is going on in my heart, to paraphrase Lk. 6:45, it is from the heart that the annoyance flows.
Annoyance or irritation is a kind of anger and most of the time it is sin. It is sin because:
Annoyance reveals a selfish heart.
My husband didn’t respond the way I had hoped and now I am a little ticked. People aren’t driving to my liking or someone at the grocery store has a million coupons and I just want to get going ... I could go on and on. My reaction reveals a heart that is focused on self and not on others.
“[Anger] devours almost all other good emotions. It deadens the soul. It numbs the heart to joy and gratitude and hope and tenderness and compassion and kindness.” John Piper
Annoyance reveals a lack of faith in God.
Ouch! Do I believe that God works all things for the good of those who know and love Him? Do I believe that God is completely sovereign? You bet I do! But unrighteous anger of any kind causes temporary spiritual amnesia. I forget that the world does not revolve around me. I forget that God places everything in my life to give me opportunities to glorify him and grow in holiness. I forget that I need to completely trust that God’s timing and plan is much wiser than my own. I forget to have faith.
But there is hope!! The sin of annoyance is overcome by the grace of meekness. This is not a word used much these days. What is meekness? It is a fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22,23 KJV) Matthew Henry said meekness is a quietness of spirit that calms our raging and deepens our humility.
“Meekness accommodates the soul to every occurrence, and so makes a man easy to himself and to all about him.” M. Henry
There are two basic ways in which I need to learn learn meekness.
1. Towards God
If I am meek I will want to learn from God’s word and I will be willing to submit myself to his providence. I will see interruptions as something that is better than what I had planned. I will see the squabbling of my children as God’s ordained opportunity for me to teach them in love and to practice patience and when my husband and I disagree I am reminded by God’s word that I need to be respectful. In short, meekness will cause me to want to obey God more than listen to my own selfish desires. Meekness teaches me to rest in God’s peace and follow him with implicit faith.
2. Towards Others
Meekness, teaches me talk to myself, not like some looney, but like someone who is thinking before speaking and reacting. Meekness thinks of others first. A meek person will keep watch over their tongue (James 3:4) “even when the heart is hot.”
I have heard it said that meekness is strength under control. But I think a better way to say it is that meekness is strength that enables a person to suffer rather than sin.
Instead of being offended by a comment of a friend I can give the benefit of the doubt and let it roll off my back. Meekness helps me remember that there have been times that I have offended others and, without Christ, I would always offend God.
“The work of meekness is to calm the spirit so that the inward peace may not be disturbed by an outward provocation.” M. Henry
How do I get this meekness?
Well, it is not something that I muster up with focus and self-control. It is learned in Christ’s school.
In his life he exhibited perfect meekness which is now credited to me.
On the cross He taught me meekness in saving me. He humbled himself to the point of dying for the ungodly (Phil 2).
Through his resurrection I have been given the power to overcome my tendency to become easily annoyed. He grants patience, another fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23), so that I can "slow down, “think twice before [I] speak once” and not be bothered by a drawer full of packing foam pieces and practice resting in God’s peace.