"Keep scribbling! Something will happen." Frank McCourt

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Complaint Department



As I see it, there are two kinds of people, those who complain and those who don't. (I'm kind of deep like that) It's too hot, it's too cold. It's too dry, it's too rainy. I wish my hair were curly, I wish my hair were straight. Oh wait that's me.

Wouldn't it be great if the complainers of the world would just march right over to that ole complaint department and let go of them...their complaints...never to resurface?

Do you know any complainers?

Complainers are the neighbors next door, the mailman who brings your mail, the checkout person at the store and the Christian in the church pew. What? Are you sure?

We all complain from time to time, and some complain all the time....
A few years ago, when I worked as a secretary in a school office, I had assigned to me student aids. Not only did I make a point of choosing students who, for obvious reasons, were in attendance regularly but they also needed to be of good character.

And in turn I felt a responsibility to be a good influence to my students.

There came a time, as I often do, when I did some soul searching...some reflecting on my own character one day. I felt that the only words exiting my mouth had been negative...you know critical... complaining and grumbling too much. I had found myself not only talking about others, but complaining about everything. Two character flaws not so pleasing to the naked ear. First, I would find fault in you, then grumble all day about it.

I prayed that night. I searched for scripture.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 NIV

That night I had an idea...

...that led to the next day. I decided that if I could not say something positive or affirming, then I would say nothing. Surely, I could refrain one day from negative talk. But, it wouldn't be as easy as just declaring it, I would have to think about everything I was about to say, before I said it.

I felt the impact later that day.

One of my seniors came in the office and sat down beside me. "Are you sick?" she asked.

"No."

"Are you upset with someone, with me?"

I was puzzled and shook my head. "Why?"

I remember she sighed kind of frustrated like. "Well, you aren't saying anything. You aren't talking much."

Then I laughed. It then occurred to me that I hadn't said much that day because most of what I wanted to say was what I had determined not to say. So I told her about my experiment, my determination to live one day without complaining.

She was impressed that I had decided to refrain from complaining.

When her hour rolled around again the next day she shared that she too had tried the same thing that day, to live one day without complaining.

I can't remember if she was successful or not, but I do remember her telling me it made her think before she spoke.

People complain. It's our nature. God knows that, he created us. Sometimes we use God as our Complaint Department...and that is ok because he is in the business of listening whether good or bad. He knows that we are overwhelmed by bills, marriages, deadlines and tragedies. And he knows those are the real reasons we complain...not the things we make up in our minds. He understands...because he knows the reality behind our complaints...the frustrations, the depression, the fears, the bitterness.

We don't need to fake being happy; that's not real. But, how much of our complaining is actually about the complaint? And how much of our complaining and grumbling is because we just want to make others suffer...because we are suffering?

Now I don't know this for sure but maybe a better way to deal, when we feel the complaint bubbling in our soul and heading for our mouth, is to investigate our hearts for the real reason we are unhappy.


What would our day be like if we lived a no complaint day? Is that even possible? Would it be a quiet day like mine was?


Just something to think about on this wonderful midweek day, I like to call...Wednesday.


18 comments:

  1. great post!!! we are humanbeings so we are not perfect but imperfect
    we always have complaints, i always try the same way as u, trying not to complain so whenever my mind begins to complain about sth i start to search for my patience which can prevent me from complaints
    i think we can live a day without complaints((:
    loves

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  2. I try hard not to complain.There are so many things we have to be grateful for.It's nice to meet you.
    Thanks for your comments on my blog.
    I just put myself down as a follower.
    Hope you visit me soon
    Have a lovely day.
    :)

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  3. Great post and an important reminder! I'm going to give it a try. I'll probably have lots of quiet moments. :)

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  4. Teresa.....many years ago my husband & I decided that whinging & complaining were futile.
    However....that didn't mean that we never FELT like complaining. We decided that when we were about to complain we would shake our head and say in a falsetto voice...."I no complaaain ". We still do it....the moment passes and we end up laughing

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  5. Great story!
    I don't like complainers either. Sometimes I think it becomes a habit that you don't even realize you're doing.
    Good reminder to be more aware of what comes out of our mouths!

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  6. Well written, thought-provoking post. Maybe I shall try it. I will have a quiet day indeed.
    Thanks for the eye-opener.

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  7. I've often felt that complaining really doesn't change anything. So we either have to make efforts to change what's bothering us, or accept it, and not complain.

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  8. What a wonderful post. I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about we complain without thinking. I've often said that I sometimes speak before my brain engages to tell my mouth to stay closed. Thanks for the reminder that I need to think before speaking. The Christmas season is a good time to start.

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  9. Can you imagine if we all did that one day? Wow! I doubt I can go an hour:) But I think maybe I might just give it a whirl!

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  10. Your post is all so true and one that many should heed. I try to keep a positive attitude no matter what. Yesterday I was in a store where the guy who works there always seems so upbeat and helpful.
    We started talking about this same topic. He related how once he once he had a customer who was so negative and complaining about everything. He said he just kept being nice and tried to be as helpful as he could but she kept on complaining and being belligerent. After they had completed the transaction and as she was leaving he said nicely, "You have a nice day today." She angrily screamed at him, "Don't you tell me what kind of *&%$@ng day to have!" He said all he could do after she left was go into the back room and laugh. Sometimes that's all you can do at first, then you can pray.
    Lee

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  11. What a wonderful truth! I'm sure many of us would get the same reaction from those surrounding us. What a great reason to take inventory!

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  12. Shucks, I can't stand it when people want to be perfect! Kidding. We become conscious of our habits as we age, and try our best to adjust. Our complaining is just a method of controlling our environment. Humans keep fussing and tinkering to get the best of a situation. As a secretary, you saw way too many things that needed fixings.

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  13. My mother was an extremely negative and contrary person. My dad, on the other hand was an eternal optimist. I watched the two of them closely and made up my mind to emulate Dad.

    Sometimes I do complain, as you pointed out, it's hard not to. But, I get a hold of myself when I feel I'm going overboard. At least I try to.

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  14. Tugce, We are just human and will complain. It's understandable.

    Betty, Welcome! I wish I could just tell myself not to complain or grumble. It's really a waste of my time.

    Elizabeth, I can't imagine you complaining. Did you notice that I didn't say I had tried again....

    WD, You guys are so funny. That may be the key for me, for someone to tell me when I'm doing it. Usually I notice after I am out of control. :)

    Jennifer, I agree, I don't think we notice when we complain. AND those chronic complainers, seriously are they related to the energizer bunny?

    Gail, Perhaps a quiet day. I know I was surprised.

    Joanne, I agree and you know I found that out about myself that if I am in a complaining mood, it is usually due to something totally different that what I was griping about. (Is griping spelled right? doesn't look like it)

    MC, Now, just remind me!!! :)

    Terri, It actually was an eye opener; one that left me speechless for a day.

    Lee, I have such a temper I don't think I would have laughed it off. Proverbs does say that "a gentle answer turns away wrath" I admire that fella. You need to blog about "gentle answers" and that story. That is a good lesson.

    Tamika, I like that word inventory. Maybe I should take inventory each day to see if I have issues.

    Lakeviewer, That sounds right that complaining helps us control our environment.

    Elizabeth B, Usually couples are like that, one positive and the other negative to some degree. I'm glad you saw that the positive side was the most healthy for you.

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  15. Thank you for saying the most important thing I needed to hear today, I LOVE your thoughts in this post!

    Indie

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  16. We are a complaining lot, aren't we. Great thoughts. Could you imagine if God sat around complaining about us all day? We sure give Him lots to complain about. :-)

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  17. I often catch myself in complaining mode and usually can shut myself up right away. But some days you do just need to rant for a few minutes to discover peace can be found once more.

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  18. Ironic you wrote such a post on "Wednesday's child is full of woe" day.

    Just love your voice and your spirit!!!!!!

    But I don't really care much for complainers.........LOL

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