‘They came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him.’ Mark 5:1-6
Jesus irritates me! I feel rather guilty admitting this—all the more so because it’s true. That I didn’t choose the blog—or chapter—title doesn’t make the verity of it any less applicable to me.
I admit it. There are times Jesus irritates me. Or rather, I should say I get frustrated by things which happen to me. I think they are unfair, unmerited or unbearable, sometimes all three. When I refuse to accept the events and circumstances which God chooses to send me—at least those I cannot change—then I am refusing to accept Him.
One thing which consistently upsets me is hurting other people, especially those I love. In fact, it is at the top of my list of least favorite things. I really dislike causing loved ones pain. Probably because I have been hurt so often myself, I want to do all I can not to do the same thing to others. However, sometimes there are circumstances when everything conspires together in such a way misunderstanding seems almost inevitable. When that happens it takes everything in me not to get angry with God.
Recently I had such an event with a dear, dear friend. We’ve been friends for years. She wrote and asked me about a book.
It’s a popular new fiction book. I admitted to her that I didn’t like it. For starters, it’s in a genre which I don’t happen to care for. Secondly, although I agreed with the author’s position, I didn’t care for his presentation, development or literary style. Booklady that I am, I can get a bit esoteric and dense when it comes to books. I should have realized she just wanted affirmation of her choice of a book. I didn’t. I needed to be a friend. Instead I was literary critic. I hurt her feelings. I only realized what I’d done when it was too late. Needless to say, I felt like a heel.
Time was, I would have gotten mad at God. Or myself. It wasn’t His fault of course. My husband said it wasn’t mine either. It was just e-mail and miscommunication. If we’d been face-to-face, the misunderstanding never would have happened.
This time, however, instead of getting irritated with Him, I thanked Him. I didn’t want to thank Him. But I did it anyway . . . all the while I was crying.
After that I went to Mass and offered my Communion for my friend. I did the same thing the next day and the next.
And I called her. We talked. We’ve exchanged a dozen or so e-mails since and we’re better friends now than we were before the misunderstanding.
I used to get angry with God about so many things. The week before it was when my daughter forgot to return a call to my Confessor who needed directions to our home so he could come to her graduation reception. He was really hurt she didn’t call him back. I wanted to be angry with my absent-minded daughter for being so careless and slighting someone who is so dear to me. Instead I prayed and thanked God. My husband suggested we take Fr. John out to dinner tomorrow night. So we are. He seemed very pleased when I invited him to have this special night out with our family. Amazingly, we're even able to get all of us together on the same evening.
Anger into gratitude. It works!