Episode 1. I’m Annoyed
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There are plenty of people and things in this world that want to rub us the wrong way – things that annoy us and some days they just all seem to gang up on us at the same time. So – then what? …
There are so many things in this world that can rob us of living an extraordinary life. And right up there at the top of the list are our emotions. Imagine if you spend most of your life being annoyed with someone or something, how extraordinary do you imagine that your life’s going to be?
It seems like a funny thing to be talking about on the program, but being annoyed is one of those emotions that can eat away at us like cancer. Some days we’re all irritated at something. I remember, recently I was flying internationally. My last meeting in the country that I was in, well … it hadn’t gone quite as I expected.
I’d been working some long hours while I was there and then the taxi driver didn’t take what I thought was the most direct route to the airport; the security guard at the airport was being so difficult; the woman at the check-in counter was a real pain and to top it all off the plane was running two-and-a-half hours late. By the time I was six or seven hours into that flight I’d had enough. All I wanted to do was, “Let me off this plane! That’s it. I’ve had enough! Get me off!”
The temptation was to be narky with the person who was sitting next to me and to snap at the stewards on the plane. You know how it is. You get to a point where you’re so cranky and agitated and annoyed that all you want to do is snap someone’s head off. Whether you’re someone who flies a lot or not, I think you’ve been in similar situations. All these little things seem to conspire to rub you up the wrong way. All these seemingly minor things come at you one after the other. It’s like they’re ganging up on you. Like Chinese water torture – drip, drip, drip, drip – and before long you’re ready to scream. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
For some of us it happens once in a while. But for other people well … they live their whole lives in a constant state of annoyance. It seems that nothing’s good enough. Their wife or their husband – not good enough; the service at the local restaurant – not good enough; the Government – not good enough; their children – not good enough; the place where they live – not good enough; their boss at work – not good enough.
We have a name for people like that; they’re called perfectionists. Nothing is ever up to their standard. Now, I happen to understand this state of living particularly well, because for a long time that’s how I lived my life; probably for the best part of the first 30 years of my life. I can tell it’s not a lot of fun; in fact it’s no fun at all because you are constantly annoyed with people. If you are annoyed with situations and with people it shows.
It may be that you have the force of character in order to bully people into doing things for you. But people who know you are constantly annoyed with them, constantly judging them, constantly criticizing them, they’re not going to do anything for you willingly and they’re certainly not going to go out of their way to help you. I’m someone who has very high standards at work, in my behaviour, and with that came arrogance – this attitude that it’s so hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by a bunch of turkeys. When I was living my life that way, I was never happy, I was never content; I was never able to build close relationships of friendship and mutual understanding and respect and support.
I wonder if there isn’t a little bit of that in all of use – some to a greater extent, others to a lesser extent – where we judge other people by how we would have done it. Mmmm. But there is one group of people in this world who seem … well, they’re people who’ve experienced great tragedy in their lives; people who perhaps stare death in the face, who seem not to get so easily annoyed.
I have a great friend called Keith. He and I co-authored a book. About twenty-something years ago he broke his neck in a surfing accident and he came very close to losing his life. He’s had many operations since. He spent months in traction, he was told he would never walk again, and still today the guy’s often in a great deal of pain. But you know something funny about Keith? Nothing much upsets the guy. He seems to be able to take things in his stride. And that’s that point I want to get to today.
Some of us allow the little things to get to us; the little needles from other people to get under our skin, and yet others don’t. Some of us expect perfection in everything all the time. We live in a world where nothing and no one is perfect. It doesn’t matter how cranky, how annoyed we get, it is never, ever going to change. We live in an imperfect world. Not so long as you and I draw breath on this earth is it going to change. Would you agree?
So then you have to ask yourself, “What’s the point of being annoyed all the time? What does it achieve? Does it change people? Does it change the world?” Well, certainly not in a positive way, does it?
I’ve lived my life in two different ways. For most of my life I’ve been annoyed with everyone and everything most of the time. It wasn’t fun for me; it wasn’t fun for everyone else. It didn’t make a positive difference in this world. It certainly didn’t help me live an extraordinary life. And then about twenty years ago I came to the realisation that, “you know what, I’m not perfect either. I do things and say things that annoy other people too.” And with God’s help that’s changed everything for me, that realisation.
Every now and again, things do annoy me, sure, but I don’t have to live my life in a constant state of annoyance, and that means that I have much, much more peace in my life. There’s a great verse in the Bible, written a couple of thousand years ago by the Apostle Paul. It says this:
With all humility and gentleness, with patience bear one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
It seems that the antidotes to being annoyed all the time are humility, gentleness and patience. Maybe the next time someone or something annoys you, maybe the next time a bunch of tiny little things gang up on you all one after the other and you’re tempted to be annoyed, to be critical, to complain, you can remember those three – humility, gentleness and patience. I’m still learning, I’m still on the journey but I have so much more peace and joy in my life these days because I spent much, much less time being annoyed with the rest of the world.
It’s pretty simple. Would you agree? And right at the heart of this huge change for me in my life is the person of Jesus because I don’t have the power to be patient; I don’t have the power to be humble and gentle in my own right. It’s Jesus and what He did for me that brought about the change and in fact is still bringing about the change.
Now, another thing that Paul wrote to his friends at Colossae is this. Colossians chapter 3:12-13:
Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults. Forgive anyone who offends you; remember the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others.
It’s the memory of the pain that Jesus suffered on the cross to forgive me that brings about the amazing change in my life. Now how can I possibly be annoyed with people all the time if Jesus suffered to pay for all the things that I do to annoy God.
If that much grace and mercy has been shown to me at such a huge cost, the suffering and death of God’s own Son on the Cross, how can I possibly stay annoyed at you and the rest of the world all the time. The two can’t co-exist. You can’t believe one thing and then do the complete opposite. Can you?