Rick Kraft

Be joyous. Be joyous today. Be joyous and contagiously spread your joy to others. 

It all starts on the inside. It then continues on the inside. At some point it can end on the inside or it can continue on to the outside. What is important here is that you control your inside. You determine who can control your inside regardless of what others do on your outside.

Another way to put this is to recognize that life is what you make it. Your experience in walking this world is primarily governed by what happens between your two ears.

What are your “pet peeves?” I know you have them. Have you ever stopped to think about how much your pet peeves steal joy from your life? While you are bothered and busy pointing your finger at another, your joy is being taken from you. 

I heard a sermon by Max Lucado, a best selling author and a minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. The sermon was called “Bear With One Another.” He talks about joy, pet peeves, and how the Bible addresses these issues.

It is not uncommon for any of us to be bothered by simple things. We identify them to others when we say things like, “Do you see the way he chews gum with his mouth open?,” “She wears too much make-up,” “He is too critical,” “She is so edgy,” “He is so laid back,” “She knows just how to push other’s buttons,” “He is really annoying,” “If he would just brush his teeth,” or “If she would not wear so much perfume.”

Sometimes we follow up with comments such as the above with “I wish he would_____ or “if only she could______” and then we state action we would like to see taken. We are stating what is bringing us down and why it bothers us.

What does a pet peeve cost? Every pet peeve takes some of your joy. It writes a check drawing down your happiness account. It is like you begin the day with a bowlful of ping pong balls that represent joy in your world. If you can end your day with all your ping pong balls, you have lived a joyous day. Each time you exercise a pet peeve, you give away a ping pong ball.

Joy is such a precious commodity. Why do we waste it on silly things? The one who suffers from a pet peeve is not the one who is being criticized, it is the one who is doing the criticizing.

This concept can be broadened outside of pet peeves. We can give away ping pong balls when we get into a critical mode and we allow the acts of others to rob us of joy.

Comments such as “He gets on my nerves,” “She never puts her clothes in the hamper,” “Why did she get a tattoo?” or “Why did he have to grow that beard?” may not be considered a pet peeve, but can still drag you down.

Before the day is over, many people run out of joy. They have no ping pong balls left. How can you spread joy to others if you are running out of joy in your own life? And who is to blame? We would like to say we lost our joy because of the acts of another, but often it is how we choose to respond to the acts of others. 

Life is 10% what happens and 90% how we respond. In most instances we should blame ourselves if we are going to blame anyone. We choose to give up our ping pong balls.

Pastor Lucado talks about losing joy being a “love” issue. He cites from the New Testament of the Bible, I Corinthians 13:5 that tells us that love is not easily provoked. Or, as stated in other translations, love is not touchy, quick tempered, irritable, quick to take offense, easily angered, or quick to fly off the handle.

The cure for pet peeves is found at Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Patient people still see the peculiarities of others, they just don’t give up joy over it. We must put up with one another.

You can love somebody and not like them. You support them and are there for them and praying for the best for them, but you may not enjoy spending time next to them. In our daily lives we must learn to put up with a lot in other people.

To bear with someone means to do your best to put up with any oddity they may have. 

If you flip this concept you realize that someone else is tolerating your quirks right now. Pastor Lucado said tongue in cheek that “there is only one normal person in this world and my wife is married to him.”

It is clear that we are all different. If you struggle to put up with another, ask yourself who is struggling to put up with you?

Matthew 7:3 and Luke 6:41 quote Jesus asking the question “why do you worry about the speck of dust in your brother’s eye when you have a log in your eye?” Jesus envisions a person walking around in life with a big piece of wood in his eye pointing out every flaw he can find in another.

Examine yourself first. Jesus said we should see if we can first take the wood out of our own eye. Then, if it is still necessary, we can address the dust in another’s eye.

What is going to happen to you this week? How will you respond when someone takes up two parking spots or cuts you off in traffic? What if someone has 16 items in the “10 or less item” store checkout lane? Are you going to give away one of your ping pong balls? Are you looking past the log in your eye to see the dust in another’s? You lose joy and the other person doesn’t lose a thing.

Do the best you can do is to bear with one another. 

My challenge to you is to live a joyous life. Find joy on the inside. Work on developing this joy. Try to minimize or even eliminate your pet peeves. The one who is causing your pet peeve may not even know he or she is doing so. Pet peeves hurt the person holding them.

Carry full your bowl of ping pong balls. The devil loves to take these from you as often as you let him. Don’t give them up. 

Pastor Lucado closed with a neat example. He talked about a beautiful valley outside of San Antonio with a river he loves to visit. He talked about the trees by the river. Not a one of them is perfect; each one of them is bent. They were all made that way. But he appreciates the beauty each tree has and how together they contribute to the beauty of the valley. 

The sooner we can find the beauty in our “bentness,” the better. May we see other’s bentness for what they are, be patient and understanding, and recognize the beauty in others. 

May you end each day with your bowl still full of ping pong balls. 

Just a joyous thought...


Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202-0850.

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