When I am Irritable

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**Though my example in the beginning is married folk…this one is not just for married people. Stick with me here! ūüėČ

If you are married, you may very well experience days and weeks when things are wonderful. You and your spouse smile, laugh and enjoy fun things. You may also experience spurts of frustration. Perhaps you aren’t full blow out angry at one another too often, but sometimes it seems like everything the other person does simply irks you. Sometimes as a wife,¬†laundry, shoes, and dishes left throughout the house after we just picked up or cleaned can be exhausting. Yet often at the same time for men,¬†it can be the consistent nagging or mothering lectures from their wives that makes them weary and agitated. Sometimes one or both spouses feel the loving things we do to help our better half become expected rather than appreciated which begins to make us resentful.¬†I find in my own marriage we become most prone to irritability when one or both of us are tired, overwhelmed or under extra pressure at the time. I can only imagine (since we aren’t there yet) that this intensifies when children are involved as there can be even more responsibility and workload sharing between the two adults (a good example of this is here). Both spouses begin to seem demanding, easily angered and sensitive to each other’s criticisms that seem to just keep coming especially when life is stressful.¬†This happens in other relationships as well. Often things at work are amiable until there is a deadline with high stakes and all of you have your own idea of the best plan of attack, share of responsibility (or lack there of), and cooperation. Or maybe it is the friend, relative, or co-worker who is always on your case, who drains you of your patience and kindness, or who has a knack for being obnoxious just enough to make your eye twitch. ;( Or maybe you have just had a really bad day and a store’s customer service rep just happens to tick you off extra when they are rude, unhelpful or even insulting.

Either way, ¬†I hope I am not alone when I say that even though I long to show the love of Christ to everyone that I often find myself being irritable (especially to those close to me) – especially when I am having a “bad day”.

Do you ever feel justified to be irritated?

from Desiring God by John Piper

from Desiring God by John Piper

This past week I told myself – “I am just tired and overwhelmed with the mess of moving boxes still left to sort and the rest of the house being a wreck while the kitchen is installed,” along with multiple other reasons like “I wouldn’t need to nag if he’d just _A,B,C…X,Y, & Z_(Gee I guess I demand a lot sometimes)…and somehow I excused my “snappy” demeanor by just apologizing each time hoping I would cease being that way. The problem was¬†that I knew I was disappointed when my high standards weren’t met and I knew I wanted to seek a godly perspective on how to view and handle it. My excuse that I was¬†“just going through a lot” turned to shambles when an article writer reminded me that the worst parts of us are already in our hearts to begin with…they just¬†rise to the surface when under pressure.¬†Ew. I¬†began to feel convicted about it and I knew I wasn’t doing a good job of¬†snapping out of my snappiness on my own. So I began searching for the truth in God’s Word and what it says about¬†when we are irritable. I hate to tell you (especially if you find yourself in my shoes) but I realized how unlike Christ we are when we allow ourselves to become and remain irritable. And particularly related to marriage, I stumbled over a verse I could probably recite to you…but in a fresh way for my eyes. You know it –

“Love is PATIENT and KIND;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant or RUDE.

IT DOES NOT INSIST ON IT’S OWN WAY;

IT IS NOT IRRITABLE OR RESENTFUL; 

6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,

but rejoices with the truth.

7LOVE BEARS ALL THINGS, BELIEVES ALL THINGS,

HOPES ALL THINGS, ENDURES ALL THINGS.‚Ä̬†(emphasis mine)

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‚ÄúBy this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.‚ÄĚ (John 13:35)

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‚ÄúLet your gentle spirit be known to all men.‚Ä̬†(Philippians 4:5)

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“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak,

and slow to become angry, because

human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires‚ÄĚ(James 1:19-20¬†emphasis mine)

 

Right about now is when I think –¬†gosh –¬†I know I started this blog to share God’s truth, I just wish it weren’t so often in the testimony of the uncomfortable correction to my heart! How messy! Haha. (LORD I did ask you to rid me of any and all pride.) Anyways, those of us who do not feel like gentleness is possible for our personality – praise Jesus that – through coming to Him – He gives us what we need. A life transformed and renewed by God’s Word and loving kindness is evidenced by patience, gentleness and kindness (among other things Gal. 5:22-23) and the Word tells us we have everything we need through His power – “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness,” (2 Peter 1:3). So I challenge you as I am challenging myself – if you find yourself deceived into a spirit of irritability, let us pray for God to give us the things we need to love one another in a way that all men can see that we are truly His. If you know you have been irritable and need to make things right, God’s Word tells us how to make things right with one another, with God and in us.

  1. Reconcile with the person or people you have been irritable or angry with. According to Matthew 5:22-25, God would have us do this even before coming to Him. Sometimes the most difficult and humbling words to choke out can be an apology (especially if you are not the only one in the wrong!) but our wrongs are all that we are responsible for…and at the end of the day – they are the only part of making¬†amends¬†that we are¬†responsible¬†and accountable for. I promise it will also give you a healthy dose of godly humility and will help rid you of your pride – which will most definitely make your Lord smile to see the chiseling of godly character happening in your heart. I¬†hated¬†apologizing recently to Bryan because I knew I would earn a smugly pleased little smile and even worse – he would be so perfectly forgiving making his actions look even better next to my ugly ones! We laughed about this one a good bit. ūüėȬ†
  2. Be ok with whatever the result. Sometimes the offended will accept your plea and forgive willingly. Sometimes they won’t. Accept that you’ve done what is right in God’s eyes to apologize with earnest desire to be more loving and patient and gentle and that you can’t control anyone’s response or reaction.
  3. Go to God’s throne of grace in prayer, confess, repent and ask for forgiveness. And receive it!¬†He already knows, and is ready and waiting to move forward with you to who you are becoming through this.¬†
  4. ¬†Confidently receive forgiveness and cleansing and sin no more!¬†A genuinely repentant heart will willingly walk a new path seeking to flee temptation to continue with what God has already brought to light and dealt with in your heart. You make make mistakes along the way – but keep going through this reconciliation process and praying and depending on God to help you become free of the habitual cycle. You should not have any lingering guilt or shame because God’s mercy and forgiveness are complete. If you do – it is a red flag that the accuser is deceiving you and I would suggest this 3-part blog I wrote here – #1, #2, and #3.¬†

I would love to suggest some awesome resources to help with this particular – sometimes daily – struggle. The book Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst was wonderful – I may need to re-read it time and again! These articles really opened my eyes and provided fresh reminders:

For married people in particular I would also highly recommend this article, as well as the book The Love Dare, The Love Dare Day by Day Couples’ Devotional, and/ or¬†The Love Dare for Parents.

I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle.

If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer.

If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. ‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĒ Max Lucado

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