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I have a pet, Peeve, and she annoys the heck out of me.

Those with canine companions or feline friends love their pets, and I totally get it. Most pets are loyal and loving and make us better people in many respects.

But my pet Peeve is a nuisance. I don’t intentionally take her anywhere but she comes along anyway, latching on like a leech, whining that she doesn’t like this or is inconvenienced by that.

To be fair, I share her gripes in a few areas.  My list of irritants includes non-responders – people who ignore messages sent to them personally – and those who fail to express appreciation for gifts given or services rendered.  I am vexed by individuals who throw their cigarette butts out of car windows and bothered by those who never volunteer for anything.

When I focus on my pet Peeve she takes advantage of my attention. She sighs and rolls her eyes and casts disgusted looks at the miscreants on our list. I have to keep her tightly leashed so she doesn’t snap at anyone. She has an uncanny ability to hide behind my skirts so that others are unaware of her presence, but I know she’s there. She’s sulky and sullen, resentful and bad-tempered.

Maybe you’re got a pet Peeve or two yourself. How do we banish these petulant pets?

(1)    Cut the slackers some slack. Ok, there’s no excuse for the butt-throwers, but in general it’s wise to give people who peeve us the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the new bride, groom, or parent is overwhelmed and writing thank-you’s isn’t at the top of the To Do list. (As time passes, you can always contact them to make sure the gift arrived in the first place.) And the individual whose solitary contribution to church, school, or community seems to be warming  a chair might have health or other reasons preventing greater involvement.

(2)    Consider Thyself.  One of the most poignant portions of the gospels records the disciples’ response when Jesus told them that one of them would betray him. Rather than pointing fingers, each one said, “Is it I, Lord?”  (Mark 14:17-19)

Someone once said that our faults irritate us most when we see them in others. I have a horror of appearing to be rude or thoughtless by failing to express appreciation, but I’ve probably been guilty of that very failure more often than I know. When our kids received a gift, I used to tell them they were not to play with it, spend it, use it or eat it until they had thanked for it, but do we grownups follow that same rule?

Missionary Amy Carmichael, often the victim of unjust accusations and personal attack, once wryly observed:  “How can I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me? If they knew me as I know myself, they would condemn me much more!” 

So what’s your current Peeve? A spouse who leaves his socks on the floor? A child who refuses to eat her veggies? A friend who never initiates conversation?

 We can keep the things that irritate us in perspective when we realize that we might have a featured role – ahem – as someone else’s pet, Peeve.