Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What If . . . We Didn't Complain?

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."
-Maya Angelou

It’s easy for me to grouse, to whine, to gossip, to be snide and witchy. Lately I’ve found myself slipping slowly into the habit of complaining and looking at the world through a lens of negativity. It’s easy to do. In fact I find it rather seductive. I can feel self-important and self-righteous, and frankly being angry and nasty brings a rush of drug-like energy.

I grew up with a mother who lived most of life looking through murky-colored glasses. Being caustic and negative just became a habit for her and the guiding force of her persona. It was, of course, intimidating and scary, because you never knew when you were going to be in the line of fire. I can empathize more with my mother now, because I see how easily negativity can grow inside me as well.

Once those seeds of complaining are planted, they take root so quickly. I don’t want them overrunning my soul – I’ve realized how indulging in negativity closes my heart and doesn’t allow Christ to flow through me. There’s a minister who started a grassroots movement to foster a complaint free world. Rev. Will Bowen, pastor of Christ Church Unity in Kansas City, Missouri, challenged his congregation to go 21 days without complaining. Since then, his story and movement has spread like wildfire, with numerous newspaper articles written and appearances on national television shows like Oprah.

I’m thinking about ordering my own Complaint Free World bracelet and taking the 21 day challenge. I know that only when my heart is open can God enter in. May I be filled with God’s presence, and may the light of Christ, the joy! the love! flow through me to everyone I meet.


Randee said...

I was watching the news last night and each of the anchors had on the "complaint bracelet" and talking up a storm about the minister who started it. Of course, I was especially interested because he's from my own stomping ground. Hallelujah! I once heard a preacher say that complaining is the equivalent to opening the door for Satan to enter and I believe it. Yesterday, I was in the presence of a group of complaining women. I found myself retreating to a lonesome spot just to remove myself it. I, too, know how easily a simple complaint establishes a complex root. A good reminder for us all!

anne said...

Randee, how "coincidental" that you saw a broadcast last night with news anchors wearing the complaint bracelets. Interesting thought about complaining opening the door for Satan. I can see that. I've been practicing today, and twice have had situations arise at work that would have been sooo easy to complain about. But I didn't. But it wasn't easy. Not complaining requires lots of prayer from me, which in turn, of course, leads me closer to God.

Doroty Palmer said...

Complaining is misrepresenting God

Complaining displeases God. When God starts to move us, we often complain. If I really believe that God is in the midst of things, that He is in sovereign control of my life and I start complaining about my life, then I am complai-ning about God, and He is not please with that.

When we complain we are saying that God is not willing and able, that we don't believe that He will do for His people. I know He takes that very personal. We also have to realize that complaining is very contagious.

It started with the mixed multi-tude and spread to the people of God ( num 11-1-15. They started to reminisce about the good times in Egypt and the variety of food that was available there. The next thing you know the whole nation is having a heart attact about the same thing.

How easy it is for us to get pulled into someone elses com-plaines and gripes.

Which is it? Do I believe He can? or don't I?.

Especially us as leaders, we have to be very careful about complai-ning, God takes very seriously how His leaders represent Him, It is a misrepresentation of who HE is.

An example of this, is Moses and Aaron as leader; those people developed their concept of God from what they saw Moses and Aaron do. The people were wrong to be complaining here, but God saw that they had a legitimate need. They had to have water or they would die, God understands.

But Moses and Aaron were upset with the people and started yelling at them and calling them names "You Rebels! He said,
" Must we bring you water out of this rock. Moses struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it as God had commanded. " This compounded the problem because He not only misrepresented God, He also ruined the symbolism that God wanted to teach from this act. Moses messed up when He struck the rock twice. He only had to struck it once. Moses abviously forgot that the rock that provided water in the wildernessis was Jesus Christ.

Instead of complaining, all that is required of us, is to speak to Him and we will receive the living water for our needs.

All those years of faithfullness for Moses, one slipup and He was disqualified from doing what he came to do. THis sound like a harsh response from God, but He takes seriously what how His leaders reepresent Him. Misrepresentattion can be a costly mistake. As leaders we must be careful, how we represent God.

God bless us all, as we continue to do His work. May He help us to stay focus and to Press toward the mark. May we always, always remember to look up to Him for He is the source of our strength.

Sheri said...

I was amused and relieved to read the mother comparison. There are many days that I hear my mom in myself. "Just shoot me now!" It seems like the older we get the louder IT gets. I don't find myself complaining so much about life as I do God. "Why doesn't HE do this or that?" Then I get angry and frustrated and turn away from Him. How Satan must love that. I heard it said once that Satan can't enter our heads and he doesn't know our thoughts, but I beg to differ. How could that be when I feel his presence almost more that I do God's? My thoughts are usually not Godly; I am careful about what comes forth from my lips, though. I have two teenagers who have extra-sensory perception when it comes to negative or hypocritcal words. Instead of always complaining about God (or His lack of presence in my life) I would like to spend more time in His Word. If I substituted every moment of ill-thought with time in Scripture maybe my armor would be less penetrable.

Randee said...

I love what you said, Doroty, about complaining being contagious. It truly is. God cautions us not to be a "stumbling block" and I believe complaining (along with self-pity) to be a seductive stumbling block. Good stuff.

Sheri, I so appreciate your post. And, I think you're on to something. I'll tell you a great book that relates to our discussion...Battlefield Of The Mind by Joyce Meyers. It's a "must read" for those of us who can't quite get a handle on holding each thought captive. Read it and let me know what you think!

anne said...

Doroty, your first line - "Complaining misrepresents God" really struck deeply. Of course it does. How could anyone see something in me that they would want, if they only heard my mouth pour forth with negativity? Thanks so much for your thoughts.

Sheri, you alleviated some guilt about writing about my mother (may she rest in peace). Thank you. Thanks as well for your transparency. I'm going to use your thought about spending as much time in scripture as in ill thought as a reminder for me.

Lori Arriaga said...

Great question and quote! Complaining sure doesn't do us any good except to open the door for Satan just as you said. That is one of the reasons I began praying and meditating on the scriptures in order to take captive my thoughts because my thoughts used to be just awful and always needs to be checked daily because it is all too easy to slip back into negative thinking.

anne said...

Lori, I've been practicing not complaining for the last two days. I slipped up today. It's amazing to see how often the opportunity arises for me to gripe about something - not all of it unjustified. But there's a grace and a peace that starts working within me when I restrain myself. So now I start over again - well, I can't do it really. Only God in me can do it.

Randee said...

This one is going to be a tough one. There is no doubt about it. I didn't even realize how much I complained until really putting a focus on it the last day or two. I think I need a bracelet to reminde me. Let me rephrase...I know I need a bracelet!

Anonymous said...

Anne, I enjoyed this piece. I heard about this minister's appeal to the world. I think it's a great thing. I hope it catches on and spreads like wild fire. Perhaps the Lord could do so much more through us if we started looking at possibilities instead of impossibilites.Complaining is shortsightedness to the max. I've had to take a serious look into my own lens.

Randee said...

Pondering the possibilities...that's what we do!