Feeling Irritable!

angry man with smoke coming out of ears clipart

I have noticed it in myself and I have noticed it in others.


It tends to sneak in at those moments when I am over busy.  When I try to keep all the plates spinning at once.  When I am under pressure and feeling unappreciated.  Something just seems to snap inside.


The mouth opens and out comes words that wound and hurt others and makes the situation worse rather than better.  You see, once I have snapped, I feel guilty for having done it and more than a little foolish.

I have been reading a fantastic book recently called, Strengthening the soul of your leadership by Ruth Haley Barton.  In it, she advocates learning to live within your limits.  She also points out that one of the effects of living beyond our limits is irritability. 

I wonder if Moses was getting irritable when his father in law, Jethro, came to him and said;

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.

You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.

(Exodus 18 vs. 17 – 18)

I have been enormously grateful for those who have acted like Jethro in my own life.  I can be a driven person and take on more and more.  It is a humbling moment for any of us when we realise we cannot do it all. We all have our limits.  I suspect, many of us are living beyond our physical, spiritual and emotional limits.

Jethro certainly doesn’t hold back and he points out that only is this not good for Moses but, it also not good for the people he is leading. 

As well as encouraging us to recognize out limits, Ruth Haley Barton also encourages us to build a margin into our lives. I think there is good scriptural precedent for this;

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

(Leviticus 23 vs. 22)

Yes, this verse is about provision for the poor but, I think there is good life advice here.  Leave space, leave a margin, leave room in your life.

I am seeking to build some margin in my life, do you need to build some in yours?


I spotted a wonderful verse in the book of James this morning :-

Do not be deceived (James 1 vs. 16)

Those words sound like a really good warning.  There are an awful lot of phone scams doing the rounds at the moment advising me that my bank has spotted a fraud; I owe the Inland Revenue; My internet provider is about to stop my service.  Thankfully, I have heeded the warnings and so, I have not been deceived.

However, I am not always so savvy.  There have been many occasions when I have been face to face with somebody, their story has pulled at my heart strings and I have sought to help them only to discover, later, that I had been “spun a yarn”.  On those occasions I have felt like a complete mug! 

There have been times when I have “toughened up a bit”.  I have heard what the person is saying.  I have had my doubts and have declined to help.  On those occasions I have felt mean spirited and heard the little voice whispering “uncaring, unchristian, lacking grace and compassion.”   My mind then goes round in circles wondering “what would Jesus have done?”

There are times, of course, when I am not the victim of deception; I become the deceiver.  Please do not misunderstand me.  I do not set out to deliberately lie or con someone.  It is always done with the best of intentions.  But I do wear a fake smile or, when asked, reply with false cheeriness “I am fine thank you”. 

Now, I don’t think it is right to “spill our guts” to everyone.  Nor, would I want to share everything that’s going on in my life with all and sundry!  There are times when vulnerability and total honesty are important but, wisdom says “choose carefully when to do that and who you do that with.”

As I reflected on James words do not be deceived, I found myself thinking that there are times when I have been less than fully honest with God.  Times when I have covered my weaknesses; times when I have buried my hurts; times when I have tried to smile through prayer when, all I have wanted to do is sob my heart out.

I began to see do not be deceived a little differently.

Perhaps James’ words are not a warning, perhaps they are an encouragement to be fully honest with God.  Do not be deceived God knows the truth about you and He loves you anyway.  Do not be deceived you don’t have to put the fake smile on, God knows what is in your heart and He longs to draw close to you and bring you healing.

As my reflections drew to a close, I spent a bit of time with God.  Maybe, you would like to do the same