Turning Irritations into Opportunities

Flyswatters 1My husband and I were approaching the third mile of our evening walk when we heard something that caused us both to become silent and run.

While walking, we had unexpectedly encountered a large swarm of gnats.  The approaching darkness somewhat disguised their presence, but I could feel them all around my face and could hear their soft humming sound. In response, we simply closed our mouths and jogged in silence until we were out of their reach.

I instinctively realized that the wisest thing I could do in the midst of this irritating situation was to stop talking.

Sometimes, we just need to “zip it.”

Hanging around to swat at the annoying gnats would have produced nothing except a mouth full of them.

Even though there are big differences between animal irritants and human ones, the wisest response is often the same.  Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I don’t!

Quite a few years ago, I stopped by an office to request that they fax an official document another office had requested.

One of the women in the office gruffly responded to my request by snapping, “We don’t do that!”

She used her facial expression and tone of voice to let me know she fully enjoyed telling me “We don’t do that!”

It just so happened that I had spent some time reading the Bible earlier that morning. This had left me with what the Bible describes as a peace that is beyond understanding. The instinct to react to her rudeness was there, but thankfully, I felt as if I was being supernaturally restrained. If anything, my only response was something like, “Oh, ok. Thank you.”

I was about to leave when another woman in the office approached me, took the paper from my hand, walked over to the fax machine, and began to send the document. She had overheard the woman’s rudeness and taken matters into her own hands. The woman, who had refused to fax the document, stared in disbelief at this woman, and then at me.

I still said nothing. After a few moments of awkward silence, she said, “I recognize your last name. I think I have seen it on a sign. Is your husband a pastor?” “Yes,” I replied, “My husband is a pastor.”

Her response then stunned me. She said, “So that’s why you reacted the way you did.”

My mental response was, “That. Was. Close!”

As I said, sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t.

This small irritation had actually resulted in a huge opportunity.

The need of someone to see the love of Jesus through me that day was so much greater than my need to get the document faxed in an expedited manner. Thankfully, it worked out where both could happen.

I think we can all agree that we NEED God’s help in dealing with the daily irritations of life and people. We each have our own set of triggers.

What, then, is the secret to turning small irritations into huge opportunities?

Sometimes, we just need to say less and keep moving forward.

Right now, tensions are high in our country and all over the world. We don’t have to look far to read or hear strong opinions and hate filled rhetoric.  The situations we are dealing with are much greater than small irritations.  However, small or great, the response needed is much the same.

May the Lord give us all the grace to practice verbal restraint and may we see and grasp often disguised opportunities to show the love of Jesus.

Like David, I find that I must often pray, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NKJV

Question: What have you found helpful in handling irritating situations?

I would love to hear from you.

Your DoAhead Friend,





About Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher is a mother of 3 sons (and yes, she’s lived to tell about it!), a grandmother, first grade teacher, speaker, writer, and Bible study teacher. Her writing and speaking are infused with God’s Word, humor, and often, “what just happened.” Lauren's deepest desire is to encourage other women to love Jesus with all of their heart, soul, and mind. Lauren is a monthly contributor at DoAhead Woman.


  1. Dana Boyd says:

    I love this, Lauren. Dealing with rudeness has always been a challenge! Through the years, God has begun to intervene in my reactions, allowing me to look beyond their behavior to wonder at the story behind it. When I yield to His Spirit, my immediate response moves from aggravation to compassion. When someone’s behavior leaves my kids with wide eyes, I treasure the times I accept God’s grace and can say to them, “I wonder how he/she is hurting?”

  2. I LOVE that response, Dana! Hurting people often do hurt people.

  3. Karen Huckaby says:

    Lauren, what a great reminder of the witness we are in this world (good or bad). I am reminded of a bible study I attended several years ago. It was from the book “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller. At the end we wrote our own 23 Psalm and my translation of verse 5 goes something like this…if I were a sheep he would slather my head with a balm of oil, tar, and sulfur to cover and protect me from the annoying bugs! I just need to remember to keep my mouth closed until the Good Shepherd applies the oil!

  4. That is a great analogy and a great visual reminder, Karen!!

  5. I’ve found exactly what you said being helpful… Saying on God’s word and also remembering that others are watching me! Thank you for the encouragement!

  6. Great message and something we all deal with on a daily basis for sure! Several years ago I received a gift with the well known Serenity Prayer etched on a glass adornment. I have it strategically placed in my bathroom, where I usually begin each day, and I read it as a prayer of discernment for the day ahead. I pray that prayer along with the Psalms that say, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me” and “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer!” These prayers sum up so much for me and have become a part of who I am. The Lord brings them to mind quite often in irritating situations!

  7. Melissa Brinson says:

    Thank you for this story, Lauren. As a person who hates conflict, I need to be reminded to keep calm in situations like this and carry on.

  8. Bill Simms says:

    When someone’s actions are out of character or their behavior is overly aggressive (mean spirited), I try first to assess what they may be afraid of. I have found that fear is often at the heart of people’s anger/mis-behavior.
    If I do respond, I try to think first in terms of my intended outcome…what action or reaction am I trying to generate with my comments?

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