Tag Archives: annoyances

I CHOOSE to like you

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It isn’t very often in life that we get to choose the people who will be participating in our lives.  Usually, like family, we get the lot that life tosses to us and we just try to make the most of it.  In marriage, we DO get to choose someone, but then they come with a bunch of other people attached to them, the in-laws.  In work we might get to choose who we work FOR, but rarely do we choose who we work WITH in the office, the others hired by the boss.  And so it is in life.

Sometimes we find ourselves stuck with certain people that we either choose to tolerate or to ignore, but we can’t escape the connection.  I like to think of these people as “sandpaper people”.  These are the people who always rub you the wrong way.  But if you let God shape your life, He will often use these sandpaper people to smooth out the rough edges in YOUR life.  Much as we would like them to just GO AWAY, we find that if we put on a brave face and endure the rubbing, after time we are better people for the effort.

It’s not always easy, but sometimes when I’m particularly frustrated with a sand paper person in my life I say to myself, “I CHOOSE to like you.”  Meaning, this person isn’t someone who I would necessarily WANT in my life, their participation in my life is not something that I have invited, but rather something I endure.  It is more merciful than Woody Allen’s approach to annoying people, which involved a large sock filled with horse manure (use your imagination).

If we go through life burning bridges with everyone who annoys us, soon we will find ourselves quite isolated and lonely.  It is worth the effort to try to follow Paul’s advice to “live at peace with everyone, as much as it is in your power to do so.”  After time, you will find yourself more patient, more tolerant, more at peace, and more generally loved by your acquaintances for being a person who BRINGS peace to stressful settings.  It is effort well spent.

Missionaries on “Survivor”

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I know my limits.  I know that I could never be on the T.V. show “Survivor”.  First of all, the first meal I missed my blood sugar would plummet and I would go cannibal on someone.  Second of all, hygiene is super important to me.  Third of all, I would suck at the social element of the game.  I was never good at lying.  I really couldn’t give a crap about who’s popular and who isn’t.  And I’m sure I would spout off my mouth and make too many people mad at me.

But having said that, sometimes I feel like us missionaries are playing our own personal game of Survivor… minus Jeff Probst.  For example, I’ve been to the beach, and I can tell you that after a few hours, you are ready for a shower just to wash the sand off of you.  When you can’t get all the sand off of you, it’s irritating.  And so it is the same with life on the mission field.  Sometimes we have irritating little problems that just won’t go away.  The tiny grain of sand gradually becomes all you can think about.  It could be the constant traffic, the annoying way that the locals do that one thing that you hate, or the unrelenting drip-drip-drip of daily troubles like power outages and the internet signal faltering.  Whatever it is, after a while those little annoyances become huge aggravations… and there’s no way to escape them!

For me, there are cultural things that act like little grains of sand stuck to damp skin.  I don’t want to make specific complaints, but I do want to express the fact that this kind of thing- being annoyed and irritated- happens to missionaries.  Even missionaries who love their country and who love their work, we all have those little things that get under our skin… and we can’t escape them!  Our only hope is to win the next reward challenge and pray that it’s a bar of soap and a dry towel.

sand on feet