It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given. One or the other becomes a habit of life. -Elisabeth Elliot
I read the following article a couple of years ago and it struck such a chord with me that I typed it up and had it on my desk where I could read it daily. Lately I've been noticing the impact that my facebook friends' attitudes have on mine. I've had to "hide" some people I love dearly because they are so negative and full of complaints and the attitude is contagious. I'm sure there is some statistic out there along the lines that you need to hear 10 positive things to counteract 1 negative...and I'm sure it's correct. Probably higher. I've only had to hide 3 or 4 friends and it has completely changed my attitude. I no longer feel like I'm fighting for joy...it's just there, most of the time. I'm not opposed to the occasional rant or venting session. Trust me. I need one at least once a month;)
I guess my question is, Who's attitude is affecting you? Are you aware of their impact on you? And are you happy with that impact? You can have joy every day despite your circumstances! We have that promise in Philippians 4: 12-13, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." And of course the follow up question, Who's attitude are you impacting? Are you encouraging and joyful to be around or are you dragging others down into your pit of mire and despair?
What if the only thing keeping you from the promised land is your attitude?
Where Will Complaining Get You?
When we were in Dallas for a visit, we were the guests of our dear friend Nina Jean Obel. As we sat one morning in her beautiful sunshiny yellow and pale-green kitchen, she reminded us of how, in the story in Deuteronomy 1, when the Israelites were within fourteen days of the Promised Land, they complained. Complaining was a habit which had angered Moses, their leader, to the point where he wished he were dead. "How can I bear unaided the heavy burden you are to me, and put up with your complaints?" he asked. They headed for Horeb, but when they reached the hill country of the Amorites they refused to believe the promises and insisted on sending spies to see what sort of a land it was. The spies came back with a glowing report, but the people didn't believe that either. Never mind the lovely fruit the land offered. There were giants in the land; they'd all be killed. There were huge fortifications towering to the sky. How would they ever conquer them? It was the neurotic's attitude. No answer would do. No solution offered was good enough. The promises of God, the direction of Moses, the report of the spies--all unacceptable. The people had already made up their minds that they didn't like anything God was doing. They "muttered treason." They said the Lord hated them. He brought them out only to have them wiped out by the Amorites. O God, what a fate. O God, why do you treat us this way? O God, how are we going to get out of this? It's your fault. You hate us. Moses hates us. Everything and everybody's against us.
Nina Jean said she made up her mind that if complaining was the reason God's people were denied the privilege of entering Canaan, she was going to quit it. She set herself a tough task: absolutely no complaining for fourteen days. It was a revelation to her--first, of how strong a habit it had become, and second, of how different the whole world looked when she did not complain. I get the impression when I'm around Nina Jean that the fourteen-day trial was enough to kick the habit. I've never heard her complain. It's not just the sunshine and the colors that make her kitchen a nice place to be. It's that Nina Jean is there. I'd like to create that sort of climate for the people I'm around. I've set myself the same task
COMPLAIN –verb (used without object)
1. to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault: He complained constantly about the noise in the corridor.
2. to tell of one's pains, ailments, etc.: to complain of a backache.
3. to make a formal accusation: If you think you've been swindled, complain to the police.
4. (formerly) a loud cry (or repeated cries) of pain or rage or sorrow
5. COMPLAIN, GRUMBLE, GROWL, WHINE are terms for expressing dissatisfaction or discomfort. TO COMPLAIN is to protest against or lament a wrong: to complain about high prices. To GRUMBLE is to utter ill-natured complaints half to oneself: to grumble about the service. GROWL may express more anger than GRUMBLE: to growl in reply to a question. TO WHINE is to complain in a meanspirited way, using a nasal tone: to whine like a coward, like a spoiled child.