A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger
~ Proverbs 15:18 ~
Irritability is a barometer for restlessness either emotionally, physically or spiritually. It could easily ride the coat-tails of the last anti-love trait, (Love Doesn’t Insist On Its Own Way). When I’m weighing whether or not I will bend my knee to God’s way above my own, I’m often bearish. So draining is the inner churning, that I bring a depleted version of myself to daily life. Nobody gets my best. There’s no escaping the ill-effects of stiff-arming the Living God. I find it profoundly humbling that while I am in that state, God extends His hand should I want to stop digging myself deeper into a hole. He is not impatient or unkind. He waits….. holding what He offers in His hand, ready to exchange it for what is in mine. That is an eternal picture of the love of God.
Some people struggle with very real mood disorders that until diagnosed and treated, may leave them unable to modify irritability. Beyond that kind of physiological imbalance, whatever the cause of my surly disposition, the passage in 1 Corinthians says when I expose that surliness to others, it’s unloving. There are times when I’m not going to be able to withdraw till it passes. There are times I’m going to have to interact with people regardless of the fact I may be legitimately less than I could be…. I have a friend who speaks with The Lord prior to her encounters with people, asking Him to display His love through her, precisely because she very often feels poorly physically. She remarked that it takes so little effort to ask Him, and the yield has been profound for her and for those she connects with. It’s an obvious life-ing out of His strength made perfect in her weakness.
When I’m prickly or contentious, one or two deep breaths is usually long enough for me to identify the source…..usually. Regardless of the cause, I know for certain I’ve allowed the thing to get the best of me, and often at someone else’s expense. My favorite cousin for irritable is fractious. It’s a very vivid rendering of what can happen to unassuming, (or maybe not unassuming) folks in my path. Whatever the variables, I am to be generally agreeable and pleasant if I’m to be loving. This is not an easy endeavour. Everything in my consumerist environment encourages me to be discontent, and discontent people don’t respond to life with a harmonious disposition.
Love isn’t irritable. What is it Irritable Anne is communicating to God and to the people in my path? I shudder to think. But I know it’s not gratitude. I know it’s not satisfaction or joy or peace. I know I’m not thinking about contributing when I’m irritable. I’m absorbed with me. I can’t tackle this one apart from Him and He’s not asking me to. Back to the altar.
Whoever restrains his words
and he who has a cool spirit
is a man of understanding.
Even a fool who keeps silent
is considered wise;
when he closes his lips
he is deemed intelligent.
~ Proverbs 17: 27-28 ~