Can’t Complain

“The dominant impression we have of our journey to freedom was that it was filled with complaints. The complaints started in Egypt, when Pharaoh responded to the first stirrings of liberation by making life more miserable for our people. The complaints continued at the shores of the Red Sea when we seemed trapped there. And, they pretty much continued all the way until the day Moses died.”

 

The same might be said of many of us – certainly me! We LOVE to complain. Like the people of Israel on their wilderness journey. if we aren’t careful it might be the thing that people most remember about us, too. I certainly do not want to be remembered as a great complainer. Or to have complaint as the defining trait of my character. Complaint excludes the possibility of other things taking center stage –
hope, affirmation, love. It drives out any possibility of gratitude.

Last year I attempted to give up complaining for Lent. Let’s just say I am revisiting this flawed area of my character. Last Sunday I challenged my church to join me in the  21-day Complaint Free Challenge   I offered a basket of simple rubber bands and asked folks to take one and put it on their wrists. When you complain… when you are sarcastic (ouch – this one is where I fall the most)… you move the band to the other wrist. The goal is to change this behavior by not moving the rubber band for 21 days. I have yet to develop a tan-line on either wrist if that tells you how I am doing on week into the challenge.

I believe one of the keys is to replace complaining with something rather than simply removing it from our speech and thought. To speak grace into every situation. To share hope in the face of every challenge. To bless with love every person with whom we interact. And to speak with love about every person whose path crossed ours before this moment.

“Gracious speech is like clover honey — good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24, The Message)

 

On the journey of Christian discipleship we have an ally in this attempt — the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit can squash our temptation to complain. The Spirit can shape our words and transform our hearts in the face of real challenges and people who try our patience (and our desire to not complain about them)! At the core of this ministry of the Spirit is love. To love and not complain… something to strive to achieve. But not alone.
 
If this call to cease complaining speaks to you today, take a look at these articles and resources —
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