There are a few things that irritate me to the point of ranting; wool sweaters, fingernails across chalkboards, and a lone cricket lost inside the house in the middle of the night.  Until recently, I would go ahead and buy a really cute sweater even if it was wool, thinking my tolerance level had mysteriously upped itself. It never has, so two years ago I declared a total wool boycott. Chalk board usage is down so that takes care of that and crickets now meet their demise if they are within six feet of my front door.
A few months ago I was reminded of another aggravation … people.  No so much the tourists, the people with 29 items in the express less check-out lane, or the indecisive folks ordering at McDonald’s. I don’t know them.  But the ones we all have in our neighborhoods, or at work.  You might sit on a committee or serve on a board with them.  Some of them may be cleverly disguised as relatives.
If I’m mentally prepared when I am with people who irritate me more than wool ever could, I do OK, but when I run into them without warning, I’m totally thrown off.  Afterwards I find myself thinking through what I should have said and should have done.  It’s usually not very nice.  Sometimes breathing deeply helps and repeating, “Jesus loves them too” over and over tends to take the edge off.
Once my pastor preached a sermon about these people.  Everyone went home with a two inch square of rough grit brown sandpaper.   “Maybe, just maybe, God is using people in our lives to smooth out our rough spots,” he very plainly said.  Yikes!  That felt like a rug burn.
None of us like to have our faults exposed and it seems that sandpaper people do that for everyone.  So when you say, “I let him get the best of me,” you’re right.   What’s left after your encounter is usually your worst. 
I think I’ll add to the deep breaths, “Love is patient, love is kind” the next time I run in to someone who feels like an electric sander.
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