"Those who have a great deal to complain about are so often silent in their suffering, while those who have little to be dissatisfied with are frequently highly vocal about it."
This bit of wisdom comes from the fictional character I love, Mma Ramotswe, a "traditionally-built" lady detective from Botswana. I'm reading the latest book of the series, and often Mma Ramotswe says things that seem simple on the surface and yet are so profound. This quote of hers hit my radar I guess because I've been thinking so much about complaining this year. About how to change what comes out of my mouth to gratitude and how this change of speech must often be preceded by a change of sight.
But really, I think about Mma Ramotswe's words, and I think, why do we complain and what complaints do I hear the most, either from my own mouth or someone else's? These are some of the ones that come to mind, and following them are things I think could be said instead:
It's too hot outside. This sun is nice, since we only get to enjoy it a few months out of the year.
We got ripped off on our summer. It started too late. We've had a beautiful August and beginning of September. Thankfully we haven't had extreme heat, tornadoes or hurricanes like so many other states.
I don't like making my lunch for work. I'm so glad I have the 'problem' of having such good food to bring to eat in my lunch each day.
It's Monday. Yuck. I don't want to go to work. In this economy, I'm fortunate to have this job. I get to go to work today, and a lot of people would envy me for that.
My (fill-in-the-blank boss or coworker or friend or significant other or family member) really gets on my nerves. Thank you for this opportunity to learn something about grace through my relationship with this person. Thank you that even though I can't change them, I can change the way I see them if I'm willing.
My knees are not what they used to be. I feel so restricted. I'm thankful for this run, because I might not be able to run at all. Really, I'm healthy and my legs are strong and so many people can't enjoy what I do.
And when I look at this little list (believe me, it's not meant to be comprehensive), it strikes me as sad that I, we, can find so many things to complain about and so few things to be thankful for. Mma Ramotswe, fictional though she is, brings up an alarming point: the ones who really have something to complain about are so often quiet. Our petty complaints are sad because they reveal something deeper about us. We don't know how to give thanks. Or maybe we don't want to learn.
Like I said, I have been just as guilty of this as the next person. But I'm thankful I don't have to stay that way. I can choose gratitude. I can start by asking God to give me eyes to see, and that's exactly the journey I'm on, discovering that he is so faithful to answer that request. Thanks to him, I no longer have to be a complainer.