24. Life’s Little Irritants

LIFE’S LITTLE IRRITANTS

The old phrase goes, “No one ever promised you a rose garden”.   I guess that’s someone’s idea of a philosophy to help us deal with the ups and downs in our life experience.  While ultimately I know that’s true, knowing that doesn’t seem to make dealing with life’s little irritants any easier.  Yes, I know that all of our lives will have their share of problems, obstacles and difficulties…….. I know things won’t always be “rosy”!!  But does life have to be so full of annoying little problems?

Perhaps an example is in order.  Every year I look forward to planting impatiens.  I love these flowers because they stay in bloom in Oregon from May through the end of November. My front yard is always filled with multiple pots of these colorful blooms through the summer and fall. People often comment on them, and even try to purchase them when we have a garage sale each year.  I have to admit, I take a lot of pride in how beautiful my yard looks every year thanks to these little flowers.

Unfortunately, this year things are different!  I purchased and planted the impatiens at the normal time in May and looked forward to them once again being in full bloom by mid-June.  However, since the first day I planted them I’ve been fighting an ongoing battle with some type of “critter” that is seemingly taking great pleasure in digging up my flowers.  I’m not sure if it’s the squirrels that live in the oak tree in our front yard, one of the many cats that roam our block, a raccoon that seems to have taken residence in our area, or a nutria we spotted a couple of times leisurely walking across our yard.  Whoever it is, they are driving me crazy!

I have repeatedly had to try to “replant” flowers that have been mangled, dislodged, or “disappeared”.   By now my pots are usually overflowing with full grown impatiens, but this year they look like they were planted with a shotgun – there are holes everywhere.  For someone who normally has a “brown thumb”, my success at planting impatiens over the years has been a positive, uplifting experience……..an experience that’s been taken from me this year!!  Honestly, I’m more than just “irritated”…… I’m “ticked” me off!!

In 1 Corinthians 13 the Bible says, “Love is patient, love is kind……it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered….” but did the writers know how much I like my flowers?   In Philippians Paul writes, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing….” but perhaps he didn’t realizing how irritating things like this could be.  Later in Philippians Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice!” but surely he wouldn’t condone the “evil” being done by those critters in my yard.  In 2 Corinthians Paul encourages the readers by saying, “Therefore, we do not lose heart….” when discussing the various obstacles he had faced but I think even he might become discouraged if he experienced the daily heartbreak of seeing his hard work uprooted by outsiders.    Ok, maybe I’m taking this biblical exposition too far!!

The point is, life is full of little irritants…..things that don’t go according to our plans. Yes, has its major obstacles we all have to face at certain moments – the death of a loved one, a job loss, a broken relationship, a major illness or injury, or some other unnamed tragedy — but it’s the “little things” that are a part of our everyday experience that often create more ongoing havoc in our lives.  When things go astray in our daily routines, we often become frustrated, confused, discouraged, aggravated, exasperated, unfulfilled, annoyed, perturbed, upset, and bothered!!  In other words, IRRITATED!!

We desire things to go smoothly, to come together as we thought they would and avoid any unnecessary detours in our well-planned day. But life isn’t like that very often.  In fact, if your life is like mine, that’s not “normal” at all!   “Normal” is a day filled with lefts and rights I didn’t expect, most of which create some disruption and turmoil. In most cases, there’s really no way to avoid such chaos…..THAT’S LIFE!   So the best we can do is to learn how to handle the irritation and make sure our actions reflect the character of the One who gave His life for us!

My personal prayer is to actually be the type of person the scriptures outline in Galatians 5 –a life marked by “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.   As far as I can tell, that means not angrily getting out the pellet gun to run off critters who are messing up your flowers!

Next time some little “irritant” comes digging in your peaceful routine,  I trust you will be able to take a moment and reflect on how you should respond. You may not be able to get around the distraction such things cause,  but you can control how you react to that disruption.  May the “fruit of the Spirit” be evident in our lives even in such trying moments.

God bless those little irritating critters…..whoever they may be!