Lately, I’ve been feeling irritable, on-edge, restless, out-of-focus.
I grabbed my prayer book this morning and this is what I found:
Are the antidotes to my dis-ease in this simple, timely prayer? Let’s think it through:
First, have I responded in love when irritations and annoyances erupt? Nope. My anger has over-ruled and overrun my giving grace and love mechanism, like a log truck going downhill in the mountains.
If sensible people control their temper, as the writer of Proverbs admonishes, I have been anything but sensible. I have been out of my senses. I have been out of control. This is obvious in my interactions, my eating, and my disciplines. I haven’t written anything for months. My office is in total disarray. All I want to do is get on my bike and ride—hard, long, and fast.
It’s like I’m trying to get away from something. I’ve always been a runner, an avoider. Ignore something long enough and it will go away. Ridiculous thinking. I would identify it and encourage others to change, but have not been very good at owning it in myself.
As a counselor, I learned and taught classes, groups, and individuals about anger management. A basic truth for me has always been that most often anger is a protective response. People feel more comfortable expressing anger and pushing others away than owning their more vulnerable feelings of sadness, fear, confusion, or brokenness.
I’m feeling all of the above. At work. At home. In my relationships. I feel more comfortable holing up alone in my house with my dogs who don’t care what I’m going through as long as I feed them, let them out to potty, and give them an occasional scratch behind the ear.
But this is not how I want to be. And perhaps that’s why I’m so frustrated. I don’t feel like I’m allowed or supposed to feel this way. I have to be on and up for everyone. I’m not allowed to be irritated. And heaven forbid that I would express my frustration publically.
For example…last week the tree trimmers came to my house to cut my tree limbs back from the power lines. I was fuming. They’re supposed to let us know so we can pay top dollar to tree-trimming companies to sculpt rather than butcher our trees indiscriminately. We weren’t notified. They butchered my tree.
I felt violated. I was so angry, I was telling people that I was ready to chop the rest of the tree down with my teeth. Not particularly attractive talk or behavior. Upon reflection, I was mortified that I was so vociferous in my expression of my anger. I should have been gracious. After all, they were only doing their job, and keeping the electric on is important for me and for the neighborhood.
Spewing my anger over what I felt was hack job on my tree became the perfect opportunity to empty out my hoard of pent up frustration and irritation. My behavior was completely disproportionate to the incident. My ranting was unbecoming and my inability to control my expression was indicative of a deeper wounding that needs to be addressed.
That said, I have realized and reminded myself of Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians regarding anger: be angry and sin not. Anger is not the enemy. Anger is a legitimate emotion. How we release or control the intensity is what matters. Who we express it to is also relevant. Anger is energy that when channeled appropriately can result is positive change.
Typically I like to finish one of these posts in a neat package, with a tidy resolution tied up with a pretty ribbon.
Sorry, no ribbon today. Today begins the arduous work of back-tracking soul-searching examination to uncover the wound that has been the impetus to this feeling of dis-ease. I take comfort in the words of Psalm 103, “He heals all our dis-eases.”
I’m trusting in that truth, and in the ensuing process. I’m also hoping the ownership of the feelings unlocks the door to peace (completeness, shalom) so that my life and living will be a more credible witness.
4 thoughts on “Irritable”
Appreciate your honesty. I’m going through a spell myself. Friday my work computer died first thing in the morning. BLIP…gone. At first I was upset and very frustrated because there was quite a bit of work to do…I don’t get paid unless I work…and one of my coworkers was on vacation. But guess what—the world continued without me, and as it turns out it will be Tuesday at least before I get my new computer (which will be a newer model and probably run much better than the dinosaur I had)…so, like you, I tried to look at it from another perspective (like you did with the electric wires needing looked after, and maybe the expense it saved you). It definitely helps to look for the bright side—God disrupts our life sometimes for our own good even when we can’t see it right away—I’m getting a newer computer… I had everything backed up…I got two (MUCH NEEDED) days off to get things done around the house and just get my head on straight. I’m a horrible procrastinator. Too much to do and too much clutter and too many people needing me. Clutter comes in many forms, physical and psychological. Maybe you need that time alone that you mentioned to take a break from doing for everyone and being overwhelmed, and concentrate on you. There is nothing wrong with that…sometimes the givers feel guilty for that. The biking and the doggie/alone times are how you recharge and reflect. It could be you need more of that. Thanks again for sharing and I pray for peace for you as you sort it all out. Bless you Tina!
Praying for light to dawn. I wonder if a scary/sad decision is lurking? Love ya!
Your thought has definitely been considered. BTW: I’ll be in your part of the world Jan 6-18, 2020!
How can I pray? Is there anything else I can do?