Are You Annoyed By the Right People?

I cringed, hoping he wouldn’t see me. I stared intently at my newspaper, not even looking up while I took a bite of my large cheesesteak with extra cheese, sauce, peppers and hold the onions please. I read that paper so hard that I wasn’t even reading it – I was boring holes into it with my newly acquired super powers.

“He” was a man I had run into before in that farmer’s market, the kind of guy who locked on to you like a heat-seeking missile and, once engaged wouldn’t stop talking. A very large man, his walk was more like a waddle. His thick glasses magnified his sad and awkward eyes. The last time I made eye contact with him, a few weeks before, he talked to me for nearly fifteen minutes about who-knows-what.

So I stared at my newspaper, and I prayed he wouldn’t see me.

* * * * *

Later that night, I was trying to leave the same market when an older Amish man started asking me questions about my mom’s store. Turns out he runs the same kind of store in a different farmers’ market.

“Ha!” he laughed. “I charge one cent more for this. Can you believe it? CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?”

He stuttered when he talked and his bottom lip caved into his mouth so that I wondered if perhaps he had forgotten to put in his bottom row of false teeth. He dressed very sloppy, for an Amish man, and was also very talkative. I was not in the mood for talking.

At 35, I am mostly an old stick-in-the-mud.

So I tried to ignore him or shoe him away and finally, to my relief, he turned to go.

“Wait,” he said. “Can I try one of those?” He pointed to one of the chocolates in the case. “I don’t have one of those in my store.”

I sighed.

“Look, I really should be going,” I said.

“Oh, of course!” he blurted in a cheerful tone. “Of course, of course.”

* * * * *

I am beginning to realize that I am annoyed by all the wrong people. That is, if I’m going to attempt to live with Jesus as my model. Talkative down-and-outers routinely put me off, drive me away, and set me to biting my nails in a how-can-I-extricate-myself-from-this-conversation kind of way. I have far too little patience for people who do not impress me.

This is embarrassing to even write.

Jesus, however, was all about these people. He called Zacchaeus down from the tree and invited himself to Zacchaeus’s house for a meal. He not only spoke to these people – he spent entire afternoons with them! Voluntarily!

He cozied up for a conversation with the outcast (and rather talkative) woman at the well. He berated his disciples and told them to “let all of those annoying little children come to me” (or something like that). He never seemed to be exasperated with the down-and-outers, the outsiders – not even the notorious sinners. He treated them with dignity and respect and love.

Instead, Jesus saves his greatest outbursts of annoyance for those who appeared to have it all together. The ones who, by word and deed, kept the outsiders from coming to him. The ones who made up impossible rules to follow and then made everyone feel lousy about themselves when they didn’t live up to the legalism. The successful people. The esteemed.

When will I get it through my thick skull that the awkwardly lonely, the one hiding her hurt, and the one that everyone else avoids or laughs at is, in fact, the one that I should respect? Make time for? Assign value to?

When will I finally realize that these people are Jesus in disguise?

18 Replies to “Are You Annoyed By the Right People?”

  1. I have far too little patience for people who do not impress me.

    This is embarrassing to even write.
    Zinger. Right between the eyes. It’s embarrassing for me to admit too.

  2. I have to admit to being the one that probably would make you want to run for the hills. I think being a stay-at-home mom has me yearning for any and all conversation and I find myself saying, “Don’t overwhelm, listen to others, don’t interrupt…”, under my breath. I turn people off and lose their interest because I am TOO much. I just want to fit in and seem interesting, like I was B.C. To all of those who haven’t run, thanks for the patience.

  3. I suspect that we have all struggled with that at times. For the past couple of years I have been visiting an old classmate after I found out that she had been in a nursing home since age 30 due to brain damage from enchephilitious (sp). I have every reason to believe that she has been forgotten by her family, and because of that I try to go every couple months for a visit. My former classmates have said how wonderful that I go and I asked one of them recently, “What is that old saying…that the measure of a person is doing something for someone who can do NOTHING for them”

    No, she can never do anything for me, but she is God’s child who needs a human touch (I hug her extra long when I leave), and even though I don’t want anything for my time, I do get a good/sad feeling now. That’s enough. Maybe God will have a reward for me when we meet, but it’s ok if He doesn’t, for my reward here is enough.

    “Whatsoever you have done for the least of these….”

  4. We aren’t all struggling with this. Some of us ARE those annoying people, we darned well are aware of it, and we’re trying our best ro be less annoying, without much success,

    I’m a perfectionist. A therapist once asked me why I thought that was so. When teenagers find their mom is expecting, I expained, they get embarrassed. When the baby is born, they get resentful that the baby gets all the attention. And there are two sets of rules, because teenagers are capable of doing things that the babe can’t safely do. That doesn’t play well with the teenagers, who see the baby as “getting away with everything” that they get yelled at, so they correct the baby when he does anything.

    Talk about annoying people! But babies ape their older siblings anyway, so when the teenagers aren’t around, he fills in the gap bycriticizing himself and in any case, he tries to do things correctly to escape criticism. I’m sure it doesn’t always happen that way, and maybe it’s uncommon, but I think that’s what happened with me.

    And if I never make a mistake, I told my therapist, nobody can criticize me. “How’s it working so far?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I told him’ “I’m not quite perfect yet. But I’m working on it.” And if we were having this conversation face to face, I’d have corrected the spelling of “encephalitis”, I imagine, because part of perfection is being helpful, which is particularly annoying to less perfect people, I suspect. And when people avoid me, I find myself trying to glom onto people kind enough to allow me to inflict myself on them.

    So am I Jesus in disguise? Well, almost. We have the same father, and if I’m not perfect, I’m getting closer and closer every day,

    And you know, I really understand the crucifixion. I bet a lot of people were thinking, “Whew! It’s about time!”

  5. Our church is going through a sermon series based on the book by Bill Hybels “Just Walk Across the Room.” Your blog for the day sounds very similar to what was said from the pulpit yesterday. Get out of our comfort zones and meet the people that Jesus would have us to meet, usually people would not want to hang with. (my wording and summation) I share some of the same “annoyances” as you do and it is so hard to try not to avoid. Thank you for sharing and for the challenge.

  6. I am tempted to say you certainly looked into my mind when you wrote this, but it goes much broader – you have hit most of mankind, at least in our culture, and religion and that we have all been in your shoes at one time or another.

  7. I think the temptation to turn into an insufferable prig is universal. One has to fight if one is to avoid becoming a grade A asshole.

  8. So true in so many ways. Lately I have began to notice that the people I am conversing with, or having a thought about judging ,will not be here forever and neither am I. So I am going to start sharing all the Love I can.

Comments are closed.