I started my day in the exact opposite way I should have. I started it with a seemingly endless barrage of complaints.
As I woke up this morning, I started by complaining to myself about how much I absolutely did not want to go to work. I went on to complain to myself about having to iron my clothes. I made a fuss about not having enough to time to grab a bite to eat before I left. I complained about having to pay bills the day before. As I stopped to get gas, I complained to myself about the gas prices. After dropping my son off at school, I complained to myself about the lousy drivers on the road. Arriving at work, I complained to myself about the jerk who double-parked. As I arrived to my office, I found myself complaining about my packed schedule and my overwhelming workload. I even took a moment to complain about the odor from one of my co-worker’s food.
On and on, I complained about how everything was annoying me. I mean, I’ve been profuse with my complaining before, but today was just one of those days.
But then the Lord put it on my heart to remember all the events making the news in just the last couple of weeks. I recalled the ongoing coverage about the deadly shooting in Las Vegas, the natural disasters that have been decimating Puerto Rico, Haiti, the DR, and even parts of the States, a story about the ongoing recovery efforts in Houston, the massive earthquakes happening all over, the conflicts in Niger, Darfur, and other African nations. I mean, even to this day, many of my fellow citizens here in Flint still don’t have clean drinking water.
At that point, I buried my face in my hands; feeling nothing but shame. Here I am itemizing my calamities like my name was Job or something; while other folks in this world are truly suffering.
- While I complained about dragging myself out of bed, a child in Indonesia just arose from the street where they slept the night before.
- While I complained about having to iron my clothes, a flood victim just lost every single possession they’ve ever owned.
- While I complained about not having what I wanted to eat this morning, there is an ongoing food crisis around the world.
- While I complained about how I didn’t feel like going to work, unemployment offices are filling up all over the country.
- While I complained about rising gas prices, somebody has been out there walking for miles.
- While I complained about having to pay bills, somebody just lost their home to foreclosure.
- While I complained about how one of my ex “friends” tried to screw me over, somebody in Las Vegas has started making funeral arrangements for a loved one.
What I realize after some contemplation is that it is very easy to overlook your blessings. At times, we feel so entitled that we even go as far as to expect for things to go our way all the time. So when life deviates from our blueprint of expectancy, we gripe about it. I’m probably the worse one in the pack. I mean, I make no bones about the fact that I can be a real jerk sometimes. My blog often reflects that. While I try to use my blog responsibly as a general clearinghouse to express my thoughts, reflections, and rants, I admit that I can go over the top with the “rants” part of this equation. Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s important to be critical of things (especially with our religious/community/political leaders and the goings on that are socially impactful). But I think that it’s equally important to accentuate all the positivity associated with our blessings.
God has been too good to me (and indeed, to us all) for me to spend too much time focusing on the minuscule things bothering me. That being the case, I’ve decided to challenge myself to go on a “Complaint Diet.” The concept is simple: whenever you feel the need to gripe about something, substitute that urge with either a word of thanks to God for His bountiful blessings and/or a thought or action for someone dealing with difficult situations.
It is important to remember that we are citizens of this God-given world. As such, we should make it a point to do as much as possible to leave it and its residents a little better off than we found them. This starts by being mindful of the ‘least of these’; while discounting the inconsequential things that may momentarily inconvenience us. At the end of the day — considering all the tragic things going on in the lives of other people, my problems aren’t too bad.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 puts it best: “In every thing give thanks…” Complaints and thanks can’t exist in the same space. One of them has to go.