Monday, March 5, 2007

Pet Peeves

(I’ll get back to Augustine soon.)

Last night I was at a meeting where some of us were invited to share our pet peeves. Quite a few had to do with traffic, in particular slow drivers who hog the left lane. Then there was, “People stepping on my heels,” “People leaning on my office chair in order to look at my computer screen,” and a husband who chews ice incessantly. I wasn’t one of those selected to share, which is just as well; out of my long, long list, I’d have trouble figuring out my "favorite."

Interestingly, no one was peeved at himself (“I hate it when I …”). We give ourselves a lot more grace than we give others, don’t we? Also interestingly, no one was peeved at a thing; rather, everyone was peeved at the actions of other people.

I’ve been thinking about that meeting ever since, and asking myself the question, Why do things peeve us?

I think it’s because our peeves come from a desire for perfection. We want things to be right in this world. People should act as they should act. They should be thoughtful, competent, kind, and selfless. All the time. Without fail. They should be like Jesus.

Would Jesus come to the office and trim his nails? Would he hold a conference call from his cubicle with the speaker at maximum volume and him bellowing loudly enough to be heard in the next continent even without the phone? Would he walk away from his cube and leave his cellphone behind so that it could ring with some annoying praise chorus for a full minute while he wasn’t there to answer it? Would he stand in somebody else’s cube and keep that person from working while he prattled on for 20 minutes about the plumbing problems in his basement restroom at home?

Of course he wouldn’t. So why do our coworkers do it? And why do people drive slowly in the fast lane and chew ice when they know it bothers us, and leave the toilet seat up when it should be down, and, and … ?

There’s a simple answer: because they’re not Jesus. Heck, they’re not even pre-fall Adam (or Eve). Nor are we, by the way. And as long as we live in this world there will be peeves, and pet peeves, because we are fallen people living among fallen people.

And thank God for those peeves, for peeves tell us that this world is not our home. They remind us that we are created to be something much better, greater, and nobler than what we are now. That our current state is not our intended state, and for those of us who belong to Christ, that our current state is not our final state. The day will come when there’s nothing left to be peeved at.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5.6, emphasis added)