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Giving Up Being Annoyed for Lent
By Patty Knap
I don't like admitting it but I get annoyed too easily. Partly impatience, partly selfishness, getting irritated is not adding to my journey in any way, that's for sure. It's a tendency I know I should conquer, and what better time than Lent?
I saw it in myself a few days ago. A woman I work with keeps reminding me to stop walking away with the pen from a certain desk. She's right; it's annoying when you go to grab one there and there aren't any. She's probably pointed this out to me at least ten times. But then Tuesday I found her walking away with the last pen in her hand. Can you believe it?? Oh the irony! Yup, I could feel the words forming in my mouth, "Excuse me, but you keep correcting me on taking the pens and you just did the same thing yourself! Ha!" I could feel the sense of satisfaction in correcting her and was just about to - and then thankfully, I stopped and thought better of it! She's not perfect and neither am I, and I can show just the tiniest hint of mercy by letting this one go!
After I unpacked all the groceries yesterday morning I noticed that I was mistakenly charged $15.99 for something that should have been $5.99. Grrr... the price was clearly marked, and I don't feel like returning to the store and waiting to get the difference back. I darted in last night way too exasperated and while standing on line with my receipt, I came up with a prepared statement about how "no one has time for these mistakes, it's happened before at this store, and you folks have to be more careful!" My guardian angel or grace or both intervened and told me let it go. I changed my script to one of mercy instead of irritation. As the annoyance lifted right out of me, I offered up this tiny hassle for a tiny intention. A much better feeling came over me - relief!
What could possibly annoy me about my fourth grade religion class? The kids are adorable and even interested. But sure enough, I found myself annoyed the other day when discussing Sunday's Gospel. I asked what they thought when they heard this Gospel. Out of ten children, only two had been to Mass. One said that she and her family were at their summer house; that's why they didn't get to Mass. Again a script formed itself in my head and it was borderline sarcastic. "Hmm, I'd bet there's a Catholic church not that far, and we can't let our weekend fun get in the way of our obligation to get to Mass!" But remembering Lent and my new determination to cut expressing my annoyance, I instead talked about the grace that comes from receiving the Eucharist, and that the more we go to Mass the more we want to go.
The dishwasher has been a headache since I got it last spring. It randomly picks three or four dishes per run to leave not quite clean. I've had the repair guys come by three times. First I was told I have to rinse the dishes better, clean the filter once a week, and run the sink hot water before starting a load. On the second visit I was told I have to use the extended wash and add a rinse aid every time. I'm following all these rules but still hand washing a few dishes after every load. I called Sears again yesterday about a replacement. After explaining my experience with this dishwasher I was transferred to someone else, went through my saga again, was asked to hold - and then I was disconnected. Prepared script for call back: Do you have any idea how busy I am? That I just got this dishwasher eight months ago, how expensive it was, that two repairmen haven't made it any better after I waited around for them for hours, twice, and that my kids friends check the glasses before they get a drink because so many times they're not clean?? I had to calm myself and put my dishwasher in perspective of all the much bigger problems around, and offer up my exasperation instead of losing it on the next person to take my call. I recall the distinction between justice and mercy I heard just the other day. In a situation where showing our anger or annoyance could be justified, showing mercy instead places us in a much better place spiritually. I waited till later to call back and calmly ask for a supervisor, understanding that factory workers and repairmen can have bad days and make mistakes, and that every day inconveniences can be an opportunity of penance.
It could be so easy to slip into annoyance mode every other hour. I could let trivial daily life stuff reduce me to a big grouch if I let my natural tendencies get the best of me. This Lent, I intend to not only offer this bad habit up but conquer it once and for all.
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