Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grumbling about Complaining

I’m tired of… I so sick of… Why do they… I hate when…
Do you ever find yourself saying one of these things or something
similar? Do feel like you have a lot of reasons to complain? Do you struggle with people, changes, and the like? Maybe you don’t think so,
but how often do you voice your displeasure with something in the shape
of a complaint? Or maybe in the shape of sarcasm? Or maybe in the shape
of an attitude?

I have to admit, one of my biggest complaints, is complaining. I
can’t stand it when others complain. It eats at my core. It gets my
insides turning. Sometimes I want to say, “suck it up.” Sometimes, I
want to say, “get over it.” Sometimes, I want to say, “give some
grace, would ya?!” I wonder if my sensitivity to this is related to my
upbringing. I’m not sure. Or maybe when I was a young Christian, I
read a verse of scripture that said, “Do everything without
complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you.” (Phil
2:14-15) and I took that scripture literally. Not that I’m perfect at
it or that I expect anyone else to be, but it just seems that
complaining and arguing seem to be the norm for many of my Christian
brothers and sisters. And, the ideal just seems so clear to me.

Now what are friends for, if they are not there to vent to?! I’m not
referring to sharing our struggles with our friends. That’s what
friends (and mates) are for. But, in this context, our goal is not just
to complain, but to make ourselves better people by sharing our problems
and seeking solutions or sometimes just helping us feel better by
putting words to our thoughts and emotions. Of course, we must think
about how our venting affects our mate or our friend. Who wants to hang
out or share life with someone who is always complaining and tearing
others down?! These conversations, over time, suck the life out of
others, instead of giving them Life. Who wants to be with someone or
give time to someone that takes life instead of gives it?! Of course,
Jesus calls all of us to respond with grace, patience, kindness, and

Which leads me to my grumbling. I’ve never been accused of being a
person who is gifted in compassion. And as I’ve been thinking about my
own complaining lately to my wife, I’ve been thinking about the
connection. I want her to hear me, be compassionate, and help me in
response. That’s what compassion is all about. I read the other day
that compassion isn’t just about feeling sorry for someone, but
compassion, as Jesus defined it in the parable of the good Samaritan, is
an action. What good is it to hear a need of someone, pray for them, and
wish them well and then send them on there way without helping when you
can? Compassion, like love, isn’t just a feeling, it’s an action.

So, my question and my challenge is when I hear others complain,
instead of grumbling about that, do I listen and understand the need
that is not being met in their life, and have compassion on them by
doing what I can to help. Maybe I just need to listen to them. I learned
from the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, that sometimes,
women just need you to listen and that helps, they don’t need you to
fix their problem. So, listening can be a form of compassion. That sense
of community can be overlooked by men, but is so valuable to so many
women. However, if we have the ability to help someone, maybe we should
respond in love and compassion by actually finding a way to help them.
Sometimes we need wisdom and we need to seek God and ask him for the
best way to do that.

Now about my own complaining, I definitely think that if Paul tells us
to do everything without complaining or grumbling, there must be a way
to do that. So how do I respond when I want to complain? Maybe I need to
rethink my thoughts. Maybe my thinking is all wrong. Imagine that, I
could be wrong. Instead of complaining about my boss or some
rule I have
to follow, I should pray for my boss and be thankful that I have a job.
Instead of complaining about the way things are, I should be working to
make them better. Maybe my problem is me. I’m looking at things
selfishly and want things to be better for me without concern for
others. Maybe pride is in the way and I think everyone should see things
the way I see them. Maybe I need to extend grace to someone who is
having a bad day, a bad week, or is in a bad chapter of their life.
Maybe I need to learn a lesson from God due to my situation. Maybe my
character needs developed.

As I was reading in James just this morning, “when troubles come your
way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when
your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it
grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect
and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God,
and he will give it to you.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)

How do you deal with your temptation to complain or grumble? What helps
you have the right attitude? What helps you develop your character? What
makes you a better person?