Okay, okay, okay...a more appropriate title for this post is, "I'll Try Not to Complain..."
On Thursday at 10:00am I embarked on a 24 hour cease-fire on complaining.
The short synopsis is that I made it 24 hours and only complained 2 times.
Each time, once in the parking lot of my OB after waiting almost two hours to be seen (she was at the hospital delivering babies) and once in the afternoon when I was dead tired and couldn't hold it in any longer, I was keenly aware of my complaining. I caught myself and tried to spin my negative talk into words of gratitude. Ex. "Aren't we blessed to have an OB who prioritizes her deliveries. In the next few weeks she'll be doing the same for us."
Without complaints filling my air space, the day was rather quiet. There were few times when hubby complained about things--like someone driving crazy on the highway--and I smiled and nodded. (As a point, he is not a big complainer at all!) As a society, complaining is part of the way we communicate; Much small talk is littered with complaints. But as a child of God, who believes that all things work together for the good of them that love God and are called according to God's purpose, complaining does not glorify God, nor does it affirm who I say that I am and what I say I believe.
I must admit, in the 24 hours I wasn't complaining, I recognized just how much I do complain. I caught myself complaining a lot in my head, forcefully stopping the words from exiting through my lips. And even that was troubling. As a child of God, I am to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. In the words of Rev. Dr. Allen Paul Weaver Jr., paraphrasing Romans 12:1, I have to "change the way I think." I earnestly desire that my mind chooses gratitude over complaints.
I also began to question the difference between acknowledging a situation and complaining about said situation. In other words, trouble and distress and idiots on the road are going to be part of our lives for as long as we live. My aches and discomfort were not eased because I was choosing not to complain, however the way that they shaped how I move about my day did change. My aches and discomfort had less power over me when I paid them less attention. Although difficult and counter to what I normally do, not complaining made the day a lot easier.
When the Lenten season began, I started posting moments of grace on my Facebook page as a way of turning my attention away from sin, struggle and sorrow to the gifts and graces of God. I continued that practice because it has helped me to journey through a rough patch with my toddler, a difficult pregnancy, and days when I question whether or not God really called me to ministry. That was a good start. But I learned in my 24-hour cease fire on complaining that identifying one moment of grace is not enough. Starting this week, I am going to have one day each week where I cease complaining, until one day turns into two, and two into three, and three into four, and not complaining becomes part of the fabric of my being.
The challenge was to stop complaining for 24 hours and watch how your life starts changing. One of my sisters in ministry (and friends on Facebook) put it a better way. She said, "Watch God change things..." I am inclined to agree. When we stop complaining, instead of focusing on our stuff, we are actively lifting our eyes to the hills and placing them squarely on our Help (Psalm 121:1). When we stop complaining, instead of letting negative talk have its way, we are speaking words that edify and minister grace to those that hear us (Ephesians 4:29). When we stop complaining, we are witnessing to ourselves and everyone around us that we have learned to be content in all situations because we serve a God who promises to supply all of our needs according to God's riches in glory (Philippians 4:11, 19).
Beloved, if you embarked on the 24-hour challenge with me, how did you fare? Whether you you joined the challenge or not, will you join me in cultivating a lifestyle sans complaints? Not only will God be glorified, I can guarantee that God will change your life in the process!