Annoyed with God

by Kristin on June 30, 2009

in Belief, doubt & hope

Our day at Cannon Beach (photo by Jason Berg)

For the most part, my vacation in Portland last week was really wonderful. But it also made me sort of annoyed with God.

The minute I put words to what I was feeling—”I’m pretty much annoyed with God”—I thought about how different it is from being angry with God. Being “angry with God” is something a certain type of person likes to talk about. How many books have been written about being angry with God? How many verses in the Bible are about being angry with God? Being angry with God is somewhat daring and refreshing—just enough without going overboard.

I’ve talked and written about it a fair amount, myself. I was really mad at God over my first marriage ending in divorce. I was mad at God when my wonderful, fifty-something (second) father-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia then struggled with a variety of added health traumas throughout his treatment. (He is thankfully in remission.)

Being mad at God is big, so you can afford to react in big ways.

But being annoyed with God is something we don’t really talk about. Probably because it’s generally over something rather insignificant, and if we’re honest with ourselves about it, admitting our annoyance makes us feel rather selfish and whinny. I guess I’m annoyed with God fairly often. I just don’t admit it.

Last week I really felt it, though, and tonight I’m admitting it.

Travel plans gone awry (commence the pity party)

I was annoyed that the week of our Portland trip—which was scheduled to begin precisely one day after my brother returned home to Portland from New York, and one day before I was set to participate in my first-ever book reading—coincided with a favorite cousin’s vacation with her in-laws. She lives in Portland, I haven’t seen her for years, but the entire time I was in her city she was in the Dominican Republic.

I was annoyed that the week of my Portland trip took place the same week of my daughter’s first real acting endeavor. She played Shere Khan in the Jungle Book, but I didn’t have the performance dates until months after I bought my plane tickets.

I was annoyed that I bought tickets with Frontier Airlines, which made me get to Portland a day later than planned (mechanical problems, so we missed our connection and I missed a TV interview). The crappy airline also made it impossible for me to switch our flights so we could be home earlier.

And I was annoyed that I didn’t just buy the earliest morning return flight in the first place, which I considered doing (if I had, we would have made it home in time for one performance). I was annoyed that it was cold and rainy at the coast the one day my brother took off work to do a day trip with us. I was annoyed that my reading had to be scheduled for that week, rather than another week.

OK. I’m done. No more pseudo sob stories. You can put away your tiny violins. Ultimately, I had a really great time in Portland, as my previous post attests to. Do not feel sorry for me.

Why blame any of this ridiculousness on God?

If you are wondering what all of this annoyance has to do with God, that’s a good question. I was sort of wondering that too, as soon as I identified and admitted to how I was feeling. After thinking about it a bit, to myself and then out loud with my mom and Jason, here’s what I came up with:

I never really expect people to do really big favors for me. But when there’s something small they could easily do that would make life better, and they don’t? It’s annoying.

I realized that while I might be mad at God about things like my father-in-law getting cancer, I don’t have big expectations for big things like that to change. I’m not sure why (lack of faith?), I just don’t.

But when it comes to little things that I know God could easily do with just a nod of his head—like make me choose the earlier departure time when I’m buying plane tickets—when those things don’t happen, I get annoyed. It’s sort of like, “Why the heck not, God? It doesn’t hurt anyone, it doesn’t cost any more or any less, it just makes a precious little girl happy that her mom can see her perform. Is that so difficult?”

Moving on and gaining a pinch of wisdom along the way

Enough with the “what-ifs” and “could have beens,” though. It’s done. We’re all alive and well. I will see S perform in her next play. I had a great time connecting with my brother and other friends and relatives in Portland. It just is.

So what does that mean for next time? Well, maybe I should actually pray about these little things more, which I didn’t really do. I held them tight to me, and relied on all my ingenuity to fix things I just couldn’t fix.

And maybe I should stop thinking that believing in God means that he’s busy fine-tuning all the logistics and minutiae of my life.

I live an ultra-blessed existence. It’s probably healthy to deal with hiccups and annoyances from time to time. It’s healthy for my kids, too. And ultimately, I think God is just fine with the fact that I sometimes feel annoyed, and direct my annoyance at him.

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  • Dave Thurston

    Hmm – I can associate with the line of God not really needing to deal with the small items in my life. My perspective includes having a mini-God in me (that is really me) that is a sort of God-in-Training. It is a cross between Me learning to deal with (and even change those annoying things) and God doing a how-goes-it every so often to make sure that the God-in-Training is still learning.

    Yep, that is what I believe when I’m retrospective or commenting on someone’s blog – and it is a goal, but in real life, it is always tough to stand back and look at the whole situation.

    Thanks for causing me to think (again) – I admire and enjoy your pen to paper (keyboard to screen) stuff.

  • TJ Hirst

    I think it’s healthy to to admit our annoyance. I generally direct it at tangible people, though,and that only leads to blame. But whether my annoyance is at God or tangible people, I’ve learned that these little annoyances are my character training for patience and other things in life that I wouldn’t learn without the annoying opportunities to do so. Patience with myself, patience with other people, patience with God’s timetable. He could probably take it all away, but what learning would that bring to me? I think it’s one of the big reasons that mortal life is so mortal.

  • Jeb

    I get similarly annoyed KT…though my views tend to place that annoyance squarely on my own shoulders. I find it never helps, though…getting annoyed. For me, annoyance quickly turns to something worse, and has a way of infiltrating my every thought.

    In my better moments, I’m able to face the inconveniences of life with a ‘water off a duck’s ass’ attitude, knowing that something brought it on, and if I’m willing, I’ll still manage a worthy lesson from it. As with many things, though…that’s much easier said than done.

  • Trina

    On the outside looking in so to speak, and truly hoping to not offend… Aren’t we given the ability to rationalize unfortunate timing? Aren’t we given choice and freewill? Is it possible that He created all that is, gave us the tools to deal with all that can be, and then leaves it up to us to use those tools? As TJ puts it, what would we learn in terms of our own character if all the trials were taken away? Is it possible that God is busy keeping your father-in-law in remission instead? Just some quesitons I have, as I often wonder why people feel that God could possibly care about the outcome of a football game, or golf session. Thanks Kristen for being so open about what you ponder.

  • Naomi Munn

    There’s a Jewish joke about a rabbi desperate to win the lottery. He prays and prays to God, but nothing happens. Then one day, he gets so annoyed that he climbs right up on the bimah (pulpit) in front of the holy ark and just lets God have it. And then, while he’s shaking his fist up at the sky, bemoaning his lack of success, a small voice says,

    “If you want to win the lottery, Rabbi, please buy a ticket.”

    *smile* Sometimes, according to my people, we need to make our own opportunities.

  • Ken Stewart

    Kristin, before I ask this question, I want to let you know I am walking this path – trying to figure out so many of these things. I do not intend to offend…

    Annoyance is perfectly natural, and I thank you for sharing in honesty. I want to applaud you for that. I did want to ask, do you feel as though you are focused on God’s will for your life? I suppose I am wondering if the annoyance comes when you feel as though He does not allow you to do what “Kristin wants” as opposed to you dieing to yourself and submitting to His will?

    Let me admit that I struggle with this daily! It is terribly hard to get out of the way – and I definitely don’t always do it. I would humbly share that my annoyances with God tend to revolve around my misperception of His intention for my life.

    As the saying goes, “A person often finds his or her fate on the roads he or she takes to avoid it.” I am trying to pray for Him to allow me to accept His will for my life. I know that might be a bit Zen, but I am beginning to see that the more I do for Him and not for me seems to accelerate my overall sense of purpose.

    Blessings to you, and again thank you for sharing.

    Warmest Regards,

  • Meagan Francis

    Love this post! I think that your last paragraph sums it up perfectly: sure it may seem like no big deal for God to “fix” these little things that go wrong in your life, but that might deny you the opportunity to strengthen your sense of perspective, your compassion for people who are late/cranky because of these kinds of ‘hiccups’, and much more. Small trials can make you a better, wiser person just the same as big trials, right?

  • Kristin T.

    Dave, as usual, you’re giving me a new way to think about the things that are on my mind. We are created in God’s image, so the fact that we could be “in training,” as you put it, makes some sense. Hmmm. I’m going to ponder that some more.

    TJ, ah, “patience training.” I always need more of that. I also need opportunities to look back on something that seemed so maddening at the time, and see how in the larger picture it really doesn’t end up being a big deal.

    Jeb, my annoyance shifted directly to me these past couple of days. And you’re so right—while feeling annoyed might seem like a small thing that gives some relief in the moment, it “quickly turns to something worse, and has a way of infiltrating my every thought.”

    Trina, yes, I completely believe God gives us free will, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. We end up experiencing our share of pain and “wasting” a fair amount of time learning things the hard way, but it makes for a richer life with more learning experiences. At the same time, I guess I do believe that God cares about the little things as well as the big things, and he can help us if we ask and are open to being truly helped (rather than just getting what we want). I just often forget to ask about the little things, or I ask with a stubborn spirit and an agenda.

    Naomi, you’re right—making our own opportunities is really critical. We were, after all, created with all kinds of problem-solving capabilities. We can’t always wait for some “sign” before we do anything. It’s good to think and plan and gather some wisdom, but at some point we have to step out in a direction that feels right, and see what happens.

    Ken, thank you for being so forthright and honest—with me and regarding yourself. No, I can’t really say I am focused on God’s will for my life. What “Kristin wants” pushes its way to the top of the pile fairly often, even if that thing I want is desired with pure and good motivations. There have been periods of time when I’ve really been focused on God’s will for my life, usually when I reach a point of utter frustration and despair, and my own plans and ideas have been exhausted. During those times, amazing and wonderful things have happened in my life. Then, during times of relative comfort, I wander, and need to consciously re-orient myself. I’m definitely in one of those periods now. Thanks for making these idea connections for me.

    Meagan, thanks so much! I love your last point about small trials versus big trials. It’s SO true. Enough crumbs can make a whole meal, but so often I’m distracted, looking and waiting for the more obvious whole loaf, so to speak. I need to remember to gather up and be thankful for all the valuable crumbs and life lessons.

  • Emma

    The times I’ve been most disappointed by my husband, it benefits me to remember the my true Husband (Jesus). It gives the eternal perspective, reminding me whom I’m ultimately needy of and faithful to, and who fulfills me. Your post reminds me of that relationship. My husband annoys me, of course. I’m sold out for the man, but somehow things creep in from time to time. Your post shows even this part of a love-relationship with God and people! (Which I don’t think it’ll remain on the heavenly side.) Not to minimize, but it’s awfully cute.

    Sad that you missed Daughter’s play! Did you manage to see it on video?

  • Kristin T.

    Emma, that’s a great perspective to have. It helps us have more realistic expectations of the humans in our lives, and gives us a more tangible connection to God. Thanks for sharing that! (And no, I haven’t seen the video of my daughter’s play yet, but I have pre-purchased some of the dvds and am waiting anxiously for them to get made! S did do a one-girl performance of much of the play for us the other evening, which was really fun.)