I don’t always feel it coming. Sometimes I can handle random annoyances and not miss a beat. Rude customer and at work? Smile and go about my day. No problem.
Then, there are the other times. That rude customer that I was able to smile at and walk away from yesterday really gets under my skin. Once they’re in there they pitch a tent and stay a while. And they’re not a nice, quiet resident. They’re the kind whose very presence is disruptive. Some days, I just can’t move on.
Of course, once that initial annoyance takes root it’s easy to get annoyed by almost anything. This typically cynical guy becomes downright nasty. It’s hard to give anyone the benefit of the doubt and everyone is out to take advantage of me. There seems to be no recovery.
Recently, the Lord has been challenging me to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ; specifically in these situations. It’s a great idea… but how do you do it? I’ve found a few strategies to be effective.
1) Withdraw for a few minutes and re-orient. I’ve got Phillipians 4:8 written on a post-it note and stuck on my computer at work. Sometimes, all I need is a few minutes to fix a harmful thought pattern.
2) Examine the situation. Ask yourself, why did I react this way? What do I think it means about me? Could something be going on with the other person that might have made them be discourteous? Putting myself in the other person’s shoes helps me notice any pride on my part that is contributing to the problem.
3) Sometimes I’ve got to get away and pray… For a while. I’m completely honest in these prayers. I tell God that I’m angry, why I’m angry, if I’m angry with Him for allowing something to happen. Keep it like the Psalms. Complain, but also state things that are true. “God, I’m angry and hurt and feel like you let me down, but I know you are good and you promise to never leave or forsake me. Help me to see that.”
A little emotional emergency management goes a long way to developing spiritual maturity.