You Get on My Nerves

“A wise man speaks when he has something to say,” goes the old proverb. “A fool speaks when he has to say something.”

If you spend much time on social networks, chances are you can name at least one person who “has to say something” about virtually every topic that comes up. You may know (virtually) a “ranter” who never misses an opportunity to get on a 500-word soapbox, an “echo” who does little more than paraphrase the responses of others, or an “applause track” whose comments consist entirely of synonyms for “you’re right!” My pet peeve is the “nonanswerer,” who responds to specific questions with any inane and remotely related comment that comes to mind, and who shows up so regularly to say nothing that you begin to feel stalked.

So what’s this got to do with stress and depression? The key phrase appeared two sentences back: “pet peeve.” For those of us given to wanting everything to fall neatly into place, peeves are not merely trivial annoyances; they are major injustices that prove every element of the world takes sadistic delight in our pain. You may know (in real life) someone who is considered a bad risk to go near because the tiniest provocation may trigger an explosion of screaming, cursing, or even physical violence. If such people make others miserable, they make themselves even more so: they go through life feeling sorry for themselves and regarding as enemies anyone or anything who doesn’t give them what they want–promptly! (“When I tell that *#^#$%! computer to ‘End Program Now,’ I mean now–not thirty seconds from now!!!”)

These are usually the same people who blame everyone but themselves for their unhappiness. Though perfectionists and control freaks particularly suffer, it affects all of us to some degree. How often do you say, “That makes me so mad!” or “He makes me want to cry!”? No, circumstances and annoying people are merely triggers. We make our own feelings (even if, as psychologists say, habitual thinking patterns have physical bases, those bases rarely build themselves without help). 

We don’t like to hear that anger is a sin. We also don’t want to hear that we create many of our own problems. We’re afraid that if we did, we’d have to do all the work of solving them–never mind that we’re already doing all the work of trying vainly to will the world into making life easier for us.

We even try to force God to cooperate with our plans–and get mad when He doesn’t. Many Christians are moaning, “Where’s this ‘easy yoke’ Jesus promised?” while refusing to take off their own self-imposed yokes to make room for it. Jesus did not, after all, say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you permanent relief from all annoyances.” He said, “…I will give you rest,” which implies a willing release of the tension and cravings that drive us.

Life doesn’t make us mad. But God can make our hearts peaceful.

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1 Comment

  1. Jerrie

     /  March 7, 2012

    Nice comment about our self imposed yokes. I agree that if we are willing to look deeply into our difficulties, peace would be possible if we would truly give that burden to Christ who actually can do something about it.


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