I heard a story about a student named Donald MacDonald from the Isle of Skye (in Scotland), who was admitted into the prestigious Oxford University, and was living in the hall of residence in his first year there. His clan was so excited that one of their own had made it into the upper class of education, but they were concerned how he would do in "that strange land." After the first month, his mother came to visit.
"And how do you find the English students, Donald?" she asked.
"Mother," he replied in his thick brogue. "They're such terrible, noisy people. The one on that side keeps banging his head against the wall, and won't stop. The one on the other side screams and screams and screams, away into the night."
"Oh Donald! How do you manage to put up with these awful noisy English neighbors?"
"Mother, I do nothing. I just ignore them. I just stay here quietly, playing my bagpipes..."
Sometimes it helps to realize that when we find people to be so irritating, it may well be that they find us to be the same (and perhaps for better reason). Even deeds done with the best of intentions can be irritating. Solomon said,
"He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him." (Proverbs 27:14)
I suppose we could ask ourselves the question, "What am I doing that may be irritating others around me?" But I think we would be better served to ask it in a more positive way: "What am I doing to be a blessing to others around me?"
"A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!" (Proverbs 15:23)