I have a complaining problem.
It’s a sad reality, but it’s true. I find myself spending chunks of my conversations, chunks of my days even, just spouting off things that irritate or annoy me. The weather, my hair, the cats, my bank account, my sleepiness, whatever I happen to think of. I don’t know if I get some kind of pleasure out of it or what, but I have a serious problem of just whining and complaining all the dang time.
And I get angry, too. Not HULK SMASH anger by any means, but I absolutely get angry. It mostly manifests itself in all these little grudges toward people who in some way aggravate me, and then I wind up mentally thinking of ways I can passive-aggressively strike back at them. Obviously not the way I need to be spending my time or the way I need to be treating people.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with venting your feelings every now and then. You may be having a terrible, awful hair day. Your computer may be going berserk and causing you to stay late at work. A friend may have cancelled plans on you for the third time this week. It’s okay to air your grievances. But my problem is that I keep holding onto them, letting them worm their way into my heart and mind and allowing myself to just keeping complaining about the situation even when it’s long over. I don’t let go of my frustration, and that’s my problem.
Yesterday morning at church was especially convicting for me. Before the service started, I was talking with a friend from the college ministry about the sheer aggravation I had been stewing in the last 24 hours concerning a…less-than-ideal new roommate situation (the original roommate is still wonderful, this is a new addition to our house).
And I say I was talking with this friend, but really I was straight up whining about all the inconveniences and inconsiderate actions I had “suffered” from the day before. Being the very nice person she is, the friend just let me vent and then agreed that it wasn’t a pleasant situation.
When the service started, Dr. B pointed out that morning’s Worship Destination: “Jesus is our example for how to handle anger.” My mind just glossed over it until my friend turned to me and whispered, “Wow, looks like this is just what you need today.”
Boom. Cue pile of bricks.
I’ve been aware of my complaining and grudge-holding issues for quite some time, but I have never felt the level of conviction I did this Sunday. There was almost a tangible sense of God tugging on my heart saying, “Listen up! This one’s for you.”
Dr. B’s second point of the sermon (because, of course, it was a good ol’ Baptist three-pointer) is really what got me. “Like Jesus, we respond to anger with patience.” And boy, is that a sticky spot for me.
As he spoke about the spiritual and emotional implications from holding grudges, the faces of people I have actively disliked, of those I complain and complain about, popped into my head. Because I have definitely not been dealing with those people in patience.
Yes, they may be inconsiderate at times. Yes, they may be actively rude to me. Yes, they may just be downright aggravating.
But I am not called to write them off as an annoyance. I am not called to whine about every inconvenience and frustration they cause. I am not called to harbor resentment in my heart.
I am called to love, forgive, and be patient. Anything else only hurts my own personal and spiritual development.
Now, I know myself pretty well after almost 23 years of, well, being myself, so I know this is a deep-seeded issue that’s going to take an intense amount of prayer and time to even begin to uproot. I know that I’m still going to complain and allow grudges to settle in my heart. It’s going to be a day-to-day struggle between my selfish nature and God’s desire for my life, just like the many other spiritual struggles I face. But I want to make that effort.
Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace (Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi)
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.