Is it Really Worth Getting Annoyed?

Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.  – Prov 12:16

Some days when I don’t know what to read, I go to the chapter in proverbs for the day of the month.  And today as with most days there is confirmed wisdom and subtle reminders of whom to live.  This one seemed to have a lightening bolt attached to it.  A jolting reminder with “Oh yeah!!!” qualities.  There was  a time not so long ago when I hear someone say, “People don’t MAKE you feel miserable, YOU make you feel miserable.” And with RADICAL fervent objection, I argued with myself and God about its truth.  Only to come to the all to startling realization… Yeah that’s true.

Why was I believing other people had the control or influence over me like that?  How was I allowing people to make me FEEL miserable?  And before I had even made it through the first day did I realize it began with the little annoyances.  I would start with the stupid drivers on the way to work, followed by the lazy people I worked with, interrupted by the selfish friends I had, and topped it off by the rude people I lived with.  (HORRIBLE overgeneralizations I agree as well, because life really isn’t that bad and people really aren’t that awful.)  But it was so easy to come to those beliefs just by a few actions that people said, did, expressed, or didn’t do in connection with my world that I would spiral down into a pit of anger and frustration without even blinking.

So what can I do? Surround myself with better people, change my outlook, move to another state to start fresh?  But what if I could CHOOSE to NOT let others frustrate me, not allow the things I don’t like bother me, or not feel people’s actions as an intentional affront to my goals. I didn’t think it was possible, I didn’t think it was changeable, I didn’t believe there was a way I could reprogram my mind and emotions… but I was wrong.

Upon reflection of my life I have noticed: I have changed a lot.  I have grown a lot.  I have overcome a lot.  And there was a huge credit to many people who coached me, taught me, mentored me… but what I have forgotten is that I let them in.  I let them change my way of thinking and operating.  I told myself I could do things differently, I could do things better, I could do things RIGHT.  So even though I may not have known HOW I did it… I did it all the same.

So this time I tried to change my mental thinking: whenever something would irritate me, I would talk myself out of being irritated.  Who knew words from the inside to the inside could be so powerful.  They could have such an effect.  That just telling myself this annoyance wasn’t really annoying me THAT bad, or that in the grand scheme of life what does it matter that I didn’t like how someone did that, or ever What does it matter to me that they are doing it WRONG?  Just to name a few of the mental challenges…

And amazingly enough it was fruitful.  I found my frustrations lessening, my annoyances reducing, and my stress level falling.  So this verse just reminded me that I can choose the way of the prudent and overlook insults.  I can choose the way of the wise and believe I can be changed from the inside out.  There is hope that growth still occurs, change is still possible… this dog can still learn a few tricks.

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Genesis 4:6 – Cain missed the Lesson

For some reason, I seem to identify with the characters in the Bible that get into trouble.  Now not the ones like David, Jezebel, Ananias and Sapphira; but more the ones that get criticized or reprimanded: Martha, Peter, Cain.  So today’s reading seems a little appropriate.

“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

 There has always been something about Cain (pre-murder) that I have identified with. I am not sure if it is the constant feeling I have that I haven’t done ENOUGH, that brings that identification. OR it could be that more times in my life I did things wrong (not what God wanted) when I thought they were right (close enough).  And finally there is feeling like I have always seem to end up in 2nd place and that is a BAD place to be.  I mean I heard all growing up, “There is only 1 winner, there is no 2nd best.”  So if some gets praise higher than mine, I must be the loser.  I know a few pretty deep rooted performance issues I think. 🙂  Or it could be as simple as I’m the oldest and Cain’s the oldest; I have been hearing bible stories since before I can remember, so it could just be that simple.  Yet, even with these identifiers I do not feel connected with Cain in his CHOICE to kill Abel.  That is where I find him going to an extreme I could NEVER imagine. See People pleasing  post for reference.

Although I am finding that with the last 2 sentences in the reading today, I am reminded that God’s point was to warn Cain of what was in his heart.  Funny thing these days is how much I hear EVERYWHERE to follow your heart.  From friends on relationships, to the television about the latest product I just MUST HAVE, to guys who think a girl will fall in love by defaulting to an emotional whim.  It seems odd to listen to the one thing that seems to get us into the most trouble.  Now in this verse it doesn’t specifically name the heart as the source of the sin, but it says it is crouching right at the door; ever heard the expression door to your heart? hmmmm.  And even a step further is that this is EAGER to control you. 

These conflicts between listen to your gut, follow your heart, do what feels good AND take the higher road, good comes to those who wait, use your mind all seem to have existed even stronger as I get older.  I am continually at conflict with the culture that wants to remove all pain, inconvenience, conflict, and discomfort from our lives which seems to coincide with what Cain chose to do.  It wasn’t the fact he brought grain instead of an animal offering, it was that Cain took the short cut, easy way, most convenient path.  And when it comes to giving to God what he has ASKED of us; he’s not interested in the short cut.  God is consistently challenging us to press through, work harder, survive the pain, overcome the challenge, do what’s right as the mind decides.  Even Cain did not see the laziness or short-comings of his sacrifice.  That God was using it as a lesson to challenge him to do better and not settle for less seems to have been lost on Cain.  But in his anger at being “taught” this lesson it erupted into murder instead of the change of heart God wanted. 

I’ve always wondered why sin seems to control us, dominate us, or possess us; but the good things we have to strive for, fight for, and work for don’t stick unless we practice and use them ALL the time.  But when sin gets a teeny tiny entrance into our lives it grabs on for dear life and digs in and won’t let go.  I am remembering an X-files episode (well episodes) from years ago about the black oil.  Now this black oil had a way of sticking to itself, but it hide in its victims and only floated to the surface (in their eyes) from time to time and OF COURSE when no one was looking.  But this oil was hard to remove and more often than not it would drive its victims to some horrible action, which led to their deaths.  Sounds like Sin to me.

So even in one of the oldest stories, it was thought-provoking to me that Cain was overcome by anger and controlled by sin which led to him missing the lesson that God was trying to teach him.  So I am challenged to see some of my situations and ask through my hurt and anger: OK GOD!!! What are you trying to teach me?  Because I know I do not want to let my anger drive me to kill as Cain did.

Where is my Bo?

In my study of the women in the Bible I of course stumbled across dear ole Ruth. Well I think of Ruth as old because my Grandmother on my mom’s side was named Ruth. She was VERY formal and conservative so much so that I did not feel a sense of love or acceptance from her. In my recent fascination with names and their meanings, I am finding that just because a person’s name has a deep significance to it; that doesn’t mean the person grew up to fulfill their namesake. So finding a youthful, hard-working, caring Ruth of the bible has had me rethink some things about the first impression I have of the name Ruth. Did you know that at one time Ruth was #8 on the most common Christian names?

So as most people know with the story of Ruth, she becomes widowed and chooses to follow her mother-in-law back to Judah (Hebrew territory) even though she is a Moabite-a foreigner. After a series of acts specifically done by Ruth, Boaz takes notice of her and shows her favor. Well actually shows her kindness in line with what the custom of the day expected; but looking out for her even further in who she was around, and in the pieces of grain his harvesters left behind. Then Naomi (the mother-in-law) tells her to show a kindness back to Boaz, which seems a little seductressy in my opinon—I mean sleeping at a guy’s uncovered feet??? Seems pretty scandalous to me. But it works and moves Boaz to take action so he can accept the property of Ruth’s deceased husband, which then gives her over to marry Boaz.

In all the right light, a strong man of business with farms and men, caring and generous man to give to the poor, and a man who saw a good woman and pursued her. He worshiped God and followed the laws of their culture although it gives some indication he was MATURE, it does not say he was OLD. And just as in this story MATURE doesn’t mean that he can’t, we can’t still have children. There is somewhere in me that still wants that. The other part of this story that really struck a chord with me is that it wasn’t something she did to WIN his attention, she just continued to live according to what she thought she SHOULD do to help her mother-in-law and it put her in the right place at the right time. So desperately, I want to be just in the right place at the right time. I am tired of working so hard at doing this or that, trying this or that, attempting this or that, but instead I desperately want to be living life, doing the things I do and have my Boaz NOTICE ME!!! Is that really too much to ask of God? Is that too much of a request of the man that will be in my life?

So in the reading of this I started to think of my hearts desire to be married and have a partner to share this life with. To have someone who wants me and loves me and is willing to work hard in this life as much as there is left. I can’t help but ask the question, “Where is my Boaz?” I mean I don’t know which field I’m suppose to be gleaning in or where I’m suppose to be laying my head to get a CERTAIN person’s attention; but a little hint would be nice. But I honestly want to know, Where is he?

Despite my whining and complaining about wondering where he is… the scripture today gave me hope. It gave me that true spring in my heart’s step that not all is lost, that Ruth was widowed and she did not have much of a positive future. Yet, her history did not determine her destiny. She followed Naomi and God to the land of promise. And it is in these moments of my heartfelt agony, that I actually have more hope than discouragement. It is almost like I now have a man to look for, like all the dating dances and courting confusion in my life has been replaced by this simple notion that I need to just wait for my “Bo” to show up and NOTICE ME (okay I shortened it because it sounds cooler to my American ear, but the image in my mind is still the same). That I need to continue to put my eyes on God and do my gleaning with joy, peace, and contentment; and he WILL COME!!!

And now instead of feeling this hopelessness that I will never find him or that this search is completely fruitless, I am reminded that I need to continue to do what I do (which includes working on my own mind and spirit). Work hard, fulfill my obligations to those I love, and seek out God (even in foreign lands away from home) and he will guide my steps to the right place. I mean even Ruth found Boaz’s field, and I am not buying that whole LUCK thing. So if God was guiding Ruth to the right field, will not God guide my feet to the right field? So now that this has inspired me to pray deeply but continue to work hard, I just know that in time I will see him, and he will notice me.

PS Just a few days after I constructed this post the most hilariously comic post was left on Facebook.  Give the above writing I had to incorporate here:  For all the single ladies , here’s a quick piece of Biblical advice: Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz. While waiting on YOUR Boaz, don’t settle for ANY of his relatives: Brokeaz, Poaz, Lyinaz, Cheatinaz, Dumbaz, Cheapaz, Lockedupaz, Goodfornothinaz, Lazyaz or Marriedaz & especially his third cousin Beatinyoaz. And don’t forget Painintheaz! Also do not fall for the very righteous-looking Lordinitovahyoaz. Please, wait on your Boaz & make sure he respects Yoaz !!

Psalms 45 – Just a Few Things

Months and months ago I wrote a series based on the list I had created years ago called What I look for.  This all started from a few of my friends saying I needed to make my list.  I needed to know in my mind, heart, and print what I was looking for in the man I wanted to partner with in this life.  I even found a section in one of my favorite books that provided a list of things that should be asked when determining if someone is a Person of Character.  I even put it on my blog as a separate page to remind myself from time to time.

Well just as I had completed that series a blast from my past arrived on my door step.  Well maybe not my door step but my Facebook page, and these days that might as well be your front door.  After a series of conversations, dates, non-dates, community dinners, friend introductions, and the like; we have decided that a relationship between the two of us would be a bad thing (we being me).  Bad meaning unhealthy, dysfunctional, co-dependent, draining, chaos causing, and frustrating (is there anything else that would make something bad?) But I am getting distracted from the real topic, which is that I think I found a few more things to add to my list.

This psalm is referred to as a wedding song, so what better way to identify those things I WANT in my future partner than here.  Now I promise not to rewrite the entire chapter, since I realize that would be redundant and most importantly impractical or improbable. But since I get to decide what I want, and what I will pray for and what I am hoping for out of this chapter, then that is what I am going to WRITE.  SO THERE.  I don’t sound a little defensive do I? But in all seriousness allow me a few moments to share a heart felt inspiration as a piece of scripture is inspiring me to draw a connection to my life in this season. 

My heart is stirred
     You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.
          Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. 
               In your majesty ride forth in the cause of truth, humility and justice, let your right hand achieve awesome deeds. 
                    Your throne, O god, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
                         You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, 
                               has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.                          

With grand expectation and hopeful want, I desire a man who will have lips that use words laced with grace and not criticism.  That God’s heart for my well-being and growth would be communicated from him as gracious items of life and not destructive points leaving me bruised and wounded at the mere mention of the words.  Not that truth wouldn’t be spoken, but that he would know that fine art of speaking truth in love to me. 

Although I do not require my man to be a card-carrying member of the sword wielding guild, he must have the confidence that builds him to a place of being the mighty one in his life.  That he know who he is in God and that he knows where he is going.  He is confident in his mind and heart to carry the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith in this crazy world of church, friends, family, and work. (Kind of a compliment to my favorite artist’s picture on my blog.)

That his values run deeper than this is what my parents taught me.  That his life philosophy includes fighting for the cause of truth, humility, and justice.  The world may not be fair and there will be injustices that will be done in front of us and to us; but that does not negate the need to do life towards those goals.  Just as there is a balance between truth and grace there is a balance between confident mighty strength and honest genuine humility; and in these I want him to know the difference and strive to achieve this. 

In the deepest core of my soul lies the belief that it is important to be fair and just in my decisions and actions.  Even if this means someone gets a benefit over me.  So reading this scripture that speaks to the scepter of justice ruling over his kingdom, really resonates with what I believe to be one of my most important life decisions.  So he must also value truth and justice above all else.  (and the American way?)  Funny how certain things end up programmed in the back of one’s mind. 

Finally, the anointing you with the oil of joy, has become so important in my life I cannot imagine living in a partnership without it.  I did not move into adulthood a happy or joyful person.  Too much tragedy, complaining, and hurt had not allowed me to embrace those things.  But as healing, acceptance, friendship, and grace has found its way into my life I began to realize that joy is an important part of everyday.  It doesn’t always FEEL that way, and I may not always express it or live in it, but it is a choice at those times for me to still allow God’s joy to change my perspective and attitude.  So he must also have that same desire to look for the joy, seek out the good, and make the best of any given situation. 

After all, I am typing this in the midst of a rainy Oregon day while camping, in a tent, by herself; if a girl can find the good in that part, well then he is definitely SHOULD be able to as well.