Everyone has at least one, I think. You know, that one person in your office, or even a roommate or family member who can just push your buttons, simply by being who they are? Maybe they breathe funny, or have a nasal voice, clomp around when they walk or just do things differently than you would. Whatever it is, it irks you. You find yourself rolling your eyes when they aren't looking, or mumbling under your breath or even complaining about them to others when they're not around.
I've got one, too. She's a nice woman, my coworker, but has one of those Jersey accents that just makes my skin crawl. She loves to talk...some days I can physically feel myself tensing the longer she speaks...to anyone, not just me. She also tends to needlessly explain and note things. For example, if I'm in the break room eating lunch, and she walks in to refill her water glass, she will often look at me (sitting there, food in front of me and eating away) and ask "Lunch time?" Yes, seriously (once, I replied "Nope, breakfast," and she just shook her head at me). Sometimes she will walk into the office after being gone for a meeting and tell everyone -- and since we don't have cubicles, she's clearly visible -- "I'm back." She's 6 feet tall. It's not like we can't see her.
My roommate, who is a good friend, also drives me a bit nuts with how she's organized the kitchen. She was in the house first, and I'm mostly accustomed to how she's arranged things. Key word mostly. Be honest: do you know anyone who puts cup measures inside a lidded salad spinner behind a two-foot tall stack of Tupperware in the back of a bottom cabinet? All I'm saying is, they're not exactly handy.
I am so far from perfect, though, so I know I shouldn't be casting stones. I'm pretty sure, for example, the fact that I'm not as much of a cleaning nut as my roommate -- and therefore the continuously cluttered nature of my bedroom -- bugs her (me being the Oscar to her Felix, organization-wise).
So lately, especially at work, I've been trying to ignore these petty annoyances or, at the very least, offer them up, praying when I find myself growing annoyed and asking the Lord for help to ignore whatever proverbial fly is buzzing around my head. And I've noticed that they're rolling off my back a little more easily than they used to.
Some days it's still a struggle. The little things tend, as we say sometimes here in the South, to stick in my craw more easily than larger issues. I even feel, in a way, that I shouldn't be venting about them here. St. Paul challenges us in Philippians 2:14 that we should "Do everything without grumbling or questioning," and again in 1 Corinthians 10:10 "do not grumble." And in 1 Peter 4:9, we are told to "be hospitable without complaining." May God give me the grace to do so! These petty annoyances are small crosses. I have to remind myself that dying to these will only help me grow closer to the Lord.
Elizabeth Leseur, a Frenchwoman who's cause for canonization is underway (if you haven't read her journals or any of her writings, I cannot recommend them highly enough) touches on this among the many things she hoped to work on spiritually: "Many things to reform: pride, the tendency to procrastinate getting to work (I admit I'm guilty of this a lot, too), to let days slip away; (and) allowing myself to be invaded by external agitation."
Amen to that.