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.