it seems that so many of the characteristics of love that paul lists in first corinthians 13 are related. those who are patient and kind are not irritable. we all know folks who seem to be spoiling for a fight, who constantly are on the lookout for reasons to be angry: someone cuts them off in traffic, someone barges in front of them in a queue, someone slights them in some way, the petty events of day-to-day life irritate them beyond measure. their suffering seems so unnecessary, life is just life and things happen, but for some of us the "unfairness" of life is a cause of great distress.
in addition to the inconvenience of the minor mishaps of life, those who easily irritated suffer twice--first from the inconvenience, then by their exaggerated reaction to that inconvenience. it is as if they expect that they should be exempt from the problems the rest of us face, and that inability to see that things going wrong are part and parcel of the human scheme of things indicates a lack of love for others, and ties into an arrogance that demands that i-writ-large should not be forced to deal with the messiness of life.
we walk on pins and needles around these people who are irritable, hoping that we can be some place far away when their irritability causes an outburst. yet, we can't help but feel compassion for them and wish them the peace that comes from being able to accept the annoyances that we all face as we live our lives. for them to become less irritable, they must first love others and see that all of us face the same challenges; no one is without the suffering that is caused by life's difficulties.
may we remember our sameness as we stumble along the path, and may we only suffer once from the troubles we encounter. may those whose lack of love causes them to inflict a second suffering on themselves learn to love and accept their commonality with the rest of us. shalom.