Can we talk? A lot of times we men can be grumpy, easily irritated, and annoyed. I confess and repent that reality. The other day I noticed that just about everything that happened around me, annoyed me. Examples: the Harley Davidson blaring next to me on the way to teach a Bible study (I normally love the deep, muscular sound of a Harley), something my wife said in the morning, and then something my daughter said a few minutes later. If I had been around you for any length of time that morning I’m convinced you would have annoyed me too. I’ve been around the block enough to catch on pretty quickly when the annoyance is external or internal, people caused or internally generated for some reason. I started looking inward. At any rate, owning your own problems rather than blaming others has always proven to be more productive to me.
There’s an incredibly rich vocabulary of synonyms around the word annoy. When you are annoyed, you are irritated, bothered, disturbed, bugged, aggravated, and vexed. I like vexed more than annoyed. Vexed makes me feel like I’m erudite, elite, and in control of my emotions: “I am vexed.”
Let me pop the bubble of self-praise with the simple dictionary definition of annoy or annoyance: “slight anger…something that causes feelings of slight anger or irritation.”
Then I read this:
Colossians 3:1,8 - If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God….But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
So when I am annoyed I am angry and projecting that anger…hmm. I guess that puts it in the category of sin and not just “being out of sorts.” So I gotta deal with this.
On this recent day when I was annoyed it was the Father’s gentle hand on my shoulder that said, “Son, it’s time you looked up that word” which I did and was shocked. I told my wife, “Honey, did you know that the word annoy means ‘slight anger’ and that ‘slight anger’ is still anger?” “Uh huh,” she whispered as she sauntered off down the hall.
On this recent day when I was annoyed it was the Father’s gentle hand on my shoulder that said, “Son, it’s time you looked up that word” which I did and was shocked.
When I’m annoyed in the presence of someone I’ve discovered:
- That slight anger is projected and shot out and felt…always.
- That slight anger is still anger.
- That people who are the annoyee tend to believe they are the cause of that slight anger which they may be or not be. This causes pain and confusion: “What did I do?”
- That my annoyance with people might be my dissatisfaction with me or life or God, and have nothing to do with them. It also might mean that I didn’t have enough coffee in the morning.
- That when I’m annoyed I alienate people more successfully than I realize.
- That I don’t always know why I’m vexed or that I’m slightly angry.
- That I might be irritated because I’m tired or felt slighted or haven’t hung out with the Lord enough to let His Word shape my soul…so I am world-shaped rather than Father-shaped.
I’ve also found that, like in everything, grace is the answer to the times of my existential annoyance. You can share my grace strategy next time you’re annoyed for any reason: recognize it, tell the Father about it, look to the Cross and be glad your name isn’t nailed on it, and remember you’re the Father’s son not because you never get annoyed but because you were chosen as a son and Jesus took the curse for you. Chances are great that when you snap out of that reverie, you’ll forget why you were annoyed and feel so encouraged that you’ll have the guts to apologize to those you pierced with slight anger. Annoyed people ARE annoying, and the Gospel frees us from ourselves so we can love and lead our families and others.
It’s great to be a man grace-freed from the grip of being an annoyance.
That’s actually the opposite of what I desire to be, and I’m sure that’s your story too.