Love isn’t irritable. This week, the topic cut straight through my thick prideful shell like a freshly sharpened paring knife through a plastic grocery bag. I’m not an openly angry person, but I’m quite apt to become irritable. I’m irritable at least twice a day, commuting in either direction to or from work. Yes, traffic irritates me. More pertinently, people who ask for help and remain an air of stubbornness also irritate me. I guarantee you have your hot buttons as well because we’re human, we all do.
It’s a matter of expectation. When I look at my own irritability, I realize it stems primarily from my own expectations going unmet. When I try to do something for someone ( i.e., help them), I expect the process to take the course that I want it to. I want things to go smoothly and I want them to openly accept my help. So you see, I apparently get irritated every time I try to help someone. I’m laughing at myself right now, but now it’s time to turn the mirror back on you. I think if you earnestly ask the question, you’ll find a similar answer. And beneath that, we find that this irritability stems from a source of self service.
Who are we loving? Am I really loving the other person or am I reflexively attempting to bring myself some love? I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, but truth is we have a question of motive. If we were to love for love’s sake, irritability would not be an issue. It’s Lent, so we look to the last forty days of Jesus’ life and see that this is precisely what He was espousing. As we’re approaching Easter, let’s not forget that Jesus knew what was to come as He prepared His disciples and Himself for the greatest love sacrifice the world has ever seen. This is our great example.
Our recourse is simple. However, the simplest solutions are always the hardest. When we begin to get irritated, that is the moment we need to step back. We need to ask ourselves the question in the spur of the moment and figure out where our expectations have led us off track. If we can do this, we can beat back the irritation and love more fully.
Despite our natures (or at least mine), irritability does not have to be inevitable. We all have expectations and we cannot change that fact. However, when those expectations are rooted in things like pride and false truths, that is how expectations can serve to produce irritability and fast. Let’s not just settle to mask our irritability, but confront it at its core. Though we are prone to it, God gave us love and it is not irritable.