Thursday, March 11, 2010

Be Part of the Solution


Being around someone who complains all the time is spiritually and emotionally draining. The sad thing is that often these people are unaware of how much they complain. It has become a habit to them - a normal way of engaging in conversation. We all know chronic complainers and swear that we would NEVER be one of those!

But . . .

  • in a group of people talking about weather, do you fight the urge to join in commiserating?
  • in a group of women talking about husbands/boyfriends, do you fight the urge to document something 'man-stupid' your significant other has done?
  • when people are talking about traffic . . . 
  • when people are talking about schools . . .
  • when people are talking about the government, the budget, the DMV...
  • when the cashier at a store asks, "how are you doing today?" do you say, "I'm blessed thank you and how are you?" or do you give her/him something with which to commiserate?
I know a couple of women for whom this is such a 'mode of communication' that it is said about them that "if they aren't complaining, they have nothing to say." What a terrible reputation to have - especially someone who claims to live in the joy of the Lord! When I have to be around them I find myself trying to counter everything they say with something positive. That in itself becomes a battle of attitudes and not very glorifying to the Lord. It is easier just to move away from them. But aren't they ones that God calls me to love just as much as people who have optimistic easy personalities?

And, I confess I jump into this habit very easily. I think part of it is filling a void of silence and part of it is lack of imagination. But mostly it is thoughtless speech, reflecting that I have momentarily forgotten that I should be grateful every day for life itself. I need to find my "thanks, not cranks" wristband and put it back on. I took it off one day to cook and lost it in a kitchen drawer, I think.

It is true there are situations in which complaint is appropriate -- but constructive complaint, wrapped in the Ephesians verse of "speaking the truth in love" should be the goal.  We've all heard the adage, "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." If there is an issue that concerns me, and it is a Godly concern, then the Lord will give me the talent, time and strength to address it in a way that glorifies Him. If I do not believe I have been given that direction by the Lord then I should keep my mouth SHUT! 

Lord, make me especially mindful today of any words I say that indicate a complaint. I am so grateful for the many blessings you have showered upon me. Let me sing of those instead.

Now: a little note about dates. I started this as a Lent devotion, thinking it would be 30 days. However, I'm on Day 23 and Easter is still three weeks away, so obviously I missed something in translation. You all are so kind to not point out to me how "off" I am -- so I'll finish the 30 days in the book and on the blog and then revisit the ones that God has really been highlighting for me.

6 comments:

quilly said...

This is something I actively work on. Whining saps energy from both the whiner and the listener. Positive comments build energy. I don't know about you, but I need all the energy I can get.

SouthLakesMom said...

Yeah, and I already blew it after posting. I had a dental check up. I love my dentist so much that I drive over to where we used to live for appointments. The traffic crews are out in force catching up and fixing blizzard damage so you can imagine the roads...sigh... It took me 50 minutes to go 30 miles, and if I didn't know the back ways, I'd still be sitting out there...

Susan at Stony River said...

I once had a friend who complained about everything -- it was awful LOL but the blessing in it was that it made me realise how much I did it too. This post would striked a chord in a lot of people!

I still complain sometimes, but when I do I catch it now, and make sure I make it the start of a solution -- so I loved your title! When the kids complain, I always ask what they'll do next, or how they think they can fix it, which leads to some great conversations about what bothers us and what we can do.

Complaining seems to come naturally, doesn't it? --like the cartoon here! But if we never complained we might all be shades of Ned-diddly Flanders. OMG. Maybe it's a matter of all things in moderation!

Sweet Tea said...

I know people who seem to enjoy living from one crisis to another. That's not for me - life's too short not to enjoy it to the max!

Thom said...

Life is too short if you ask me. We all complain to some extent but those that do it constantly are just really annoying.

SouthLakesMom said...

Susan, it is interesting how God shows us our sin through our friends and our children! LOL!

Sweet Tea - I hear you! Crisis to crisis is exhausting!

Thom - I imagine you hear more than your fair share of complaints being in public service. Thank you for doing it mostly with a smile!