“Complaining is epidemic in our world”
Yep, that is pretty much the way to communicate these days. Some call it critique (I have) but it is pretty much bad news. And a bad example. And it’s gotten so out of hand with one of my kids that I just snapped recently. “Not another word!” I found myself screaming. I totally understand the old adage which I heard from my father “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!” And when he was mad, just “Shut up” in Tibetan so no one else would know what he was saying.
So I’m trying to lead by example and not complain about anything or criticize anyone, or gossip, for 21 days, which is how long it takes to form a habit apparently.
They offer purple bracelets (you can get free on their website) but I have stuck with a rubber band. Wear it on a wrist and switch it to the other wrist when you catch yourself expressing a complaint, gossiping or criticizing. And begin again. I started on Sunday and I haven’t made it through a day, yet. But I am über conscious of my thoughts and have struggled to not express a lot of complaints, criticism or gossip. The idea is by changing your words you change your thoughts — a constant striving to reformat your mental hard drive. By doing that you change your heart and your life.
And I think Jesus would agree. He talks a lot about kindness, speaking kindly to one another, not slandering one another, not calling names. In Matt 5.22:
Whoever says to his brother raca will be answerable to the Sanhedrin; and whoever says “you fool” will be liable to fiery Gehenna. NIV
But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,* you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult*[Greek say Raca to an obscure term of abuse] a brother or sister,* you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell* of fire. NRSV
Whoah! Bottom line beyond our words: “Be kind.” Watch our tongues, stop putting others down, or gossiping. Perhaps I’m just on about this because I have two middle-schoolers and they are often catty and snarky and I find myself also guilty. It’s such a common part of our culture that we don’t even realize it, often.
So, build into your life a practice of treating others with respect, giving people the benefit of the doubt, stopping your tongue, and be kind!
This could easily become a fix-it gimmick, but if you look at this in spiritual terms I believe it could change you forever. Irrevocably.
Speaking positively about others is a simple thing, but it is so hard to do. Trust me, I shout out loud at the “idiots” on the road. I talk about people who I don’t understand (e.g. gossip). I called the Governor of Wisconsin a bad name yesterday. When you have kids all of a sudden you have a mirror in front of you or in the case of yelling obscenities at the dog-sh*t on the floor, you have a tape recorder in the memory of your children. Yikes!
Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms: Shut Your Mouth! Don’t be a fool. Be kind.
Listen to him and I believe it will change you.
[“Ephphatha” Be opened] First in a series on responding to Jesus’ words