Confession 38: Complaint Free Me

I am not a big believer in the Lenten season. It’s not that I don’t believe it’s important to be in an attitude of confession and penitence, to seek God’s will and set your sights on higher things, it’s just that as a Christian I think you should be doing these things all the time. They should be a natural part of your faith walk, not just a once-a-year forty day practice. This mostly stems from the fact that I grew up in the Southern Baptist church and we never acknowledged Lent. Until I became a Methodist I thought it was something only Catholics practiced. However, as I grow in my understanding of the Church, I see more merit in the customs and actions surrounding Lent. That said, I’ve decided this year to actually give up something for Lent. I’m going to give up complaining.

It seems throughout this past decade or so we have become a nation of negativity. Complaining is commonplace. In fact, it is very much encouraged. Look at all of our reality T.V. shows. People do nothing but complain, and then the audience is encouraged to criticize and complain about the contestants on the show. Remember the presidential election campaign? What did the candidates do? Complain. Pick up a newspaper and read a Letter to the Editor–complaints. Think back to the last conversation you had. Did you complain about something? I was in the teacher’s lounge, so I know I did! It’s ridiculous, and I’ve gotten just as caught up in it as anyone else. So, I’ve decided that Lent is as good a time as any to take a stand.

But, before I begin, I have a few fundamental questions. First, what’s the difference between a complaint and a statement of fact? For instance, if I say, “I’m tired of the cold”, am I complaining or stating an opinion? If I get stuck in a parade of traffic on my way to work and tell someone that, am I complaining? What if I need to vent about classes or church? Can I do that and not be complaining? Or, if someone’s a big fat jerk and I point that out to someone else, does that constitute a complaint? I mean, if the shoe fits…. And what about sarcasm? Done well, it can truly become art.

I went onto the website of “A Complaint Free World” to get some answers. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people live more positive lives. It was started by a minister in the Kansas City area, Will Bowen I think his name is, and they’ve done a lot of good work. But all I could find on their website was the opportunity to buy a book. That doesn’t really help me at the moment (Was that a complaint?). So, I’m left to figure it out on my own. I’m just going to do the best I can and look for the best in others. And maybe avoid the teacher’s lounge, at least for 40 days.

Blessings and Peace,