One of my sons, when he was a youngster, got hold of the word “irritating” – as in, “Mo-ooom, he’s irritating me.” Now, we tried to teach our boys not to irritate each other on purpose, not to hit, tease, “bother,” bait, infringe on the possessions or person of the other, etc. But sometimes in just everyday living together, we’re going to get irritated with each other. Someone in the innocence of their heart can make too much noise, be somewhere I was going to be or use something I was about to use, etc. So, after listening to whatever had irritated my young son, sometimes I would deal with the issue, but sometimes I would say something like, “You need to work on not being so irritate-able” (Spelled and pronounced that way on purpose for emphasis). That was not a satisfying answer. The problem is with the other guy, Mom! You need to make him stop!
I find myself getting far too irritated far too often. Sometimes it’s the other thing or person that is being irritating, or causing the issue: the
stupid recalcitrant computer, the driver who wasn’t watching what he was doing, etc. But too often, it’s just a matter of my own irritate-ableness. Touchiness, my mom used to call it. I started to list my most frequent irritants, but we all have our own (and I don’t want to offend anyone 🙂 ).
So what can I do when I am feeling irritated?
1. Fix the issue, if possible. Find out if there is something wrong with the computer, leave early so every red light isn’t aggravating, slow down and take the necessary time to accomplish something so haste doesn’t create more problems, gently ask the other person to refrain from or change whatever they are doing,etc..
2. Forbear. A former pastor used to say forbearing was just good old-fashioned putting up with each other. In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul says, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Not just forbearing, but forbearing in love. “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins,” I Peter 4:8. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
3. Humble myself. The verses mentioned speak of humility and meekness. Who am I to think that the entire world should revolve around my whims and preferences?
4. Focus on the other person. Those verses also speak of love. Instead of focusing on that irritant, I need to focus on that person as another child of the Father whom He loves every bit as much as He loves me and seek ways to serve him or her.
5. Do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I need to remember that I’m probably unwittingly irritating someone else sometimes who is graciously (I hope) being forbearing with me. I need to handle the irritations that come from other people as graciously as I would want them to handle mine.
6. Don’t make excuses. There are certain times and seasons and hormones and circumstances that make one more susceptible to irritability. I admit it is really hard for me to be civil, much less loving, when I haven’t had enough sleep. And during certain hormonal surges I’ve wondered how in the world God expected me not to blow up at someone with all that going on. But He gives grace when we ask Him and rely on Him for it.
7. Behold our God. II Corinthians 3:18 says we’re changed more and more into Christ’s likeness as we behold Him. When I look inside and tell myself I need to be more kind, loving, forbearing, etc., I get discouraged and fail because I don’t have it in myself. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). But when I look at Him, that irritability seems to just melt away.
“Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13b.
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. Romans 3:24-25.
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4.
“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance.” Galatians 5:22-23.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Psalm 103:8.
“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145:8-9.
8. Pray. Something that I pray for myself and my loves ones often is Colossians 1:9-14:
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
Verse 9 reminds me that I need His strength and power to be patient and longsuffering, and that He will even enable me to do it with joyfulness!
Have you found any other tips for dealing with irritability?