I’m really blessed, abundantly. Like all of us though, I could come up with a list of items to complain about at any given time. Most of us find it difficult to put away our notepad of complaints and stop scorekeeping. Before we know it, a short list of funny pet peeves becomes a persistently critical spirit. And there’s nothing simple about that.
This week my family is vacationing in Seaside, FL. (Think Truman Show.) We rented a wonderful 5 bedroom, 4 story costal/beach style house. It features 3 sitting/tv areas, a rooftop tower with built-in bar and a spiral, wooden staircase for Wade to climb. When you pay for anything, you should expect a certain level of quality; but there comes a point where value is replaced by fruitless criticism.
Being critical can feel fun. I think we all experienced a certain satisfaction in bitching and moaning about a particular situation. But if this becomes habit, what do we gain?
A habitually dissatisfied heart.
My family is comprised primarily of type-As, save unlucky Brian who married in, and Wade, whose type remains to be seen. Get us in one location and we can rip about any good thing to shreds. Shortly after our arrival, the list of complaints began – one-ply toilet paper, scratched teflon skillets, worn out mattresses, faulty washer and dryer, nearby home construction, crooked lighting, poorly anchored towel racks, unreliable wi-fi, and a warped grill rack, to share part of the list. I can attest that some of these had merit, i.e. the teflon on the skillets was so worn it was likely a health hazard, and the washer wouldn’t spin. My point is though, the list will continue until we intentionally stop it. (And although I’ve used a humorous example here, the same is said for serious complaints as well. I have several concerning, chronic health issues. It is easy to complain and some would say I should. But complaining doesn’t improve my situation, it only makes me hyper aware of what I don’t like about it.)
Criticism may start out as humor. But before long it turns sour as vinegar, and begins to poison any experience. The sourness spreads to our hearts and the final result is ungratefulness. Ungratefulness is cumbersome. It insists on being carried with us at all times and filtering everything in our lives. It is never satisfied, always complaining. In contrast, gratefulness is light and undemanding. It is expects good things.
Think about a particularly ungrateful person you know. Is he fun to be around? Does she feel high maintenance, exhausting? Ungratefulness gradually takes up residence in our hearts. By the time it has finished moving in, we have forgotten its presence. We no longer notice our own ungratefulness because everything tastes sour. Ask a close friend or relative if you are a complainer or if you seem to find fault rather than blessing.
Criticism has its usefulness and is appropriate in limited amounts. But be watchful, lest complaining becomes your norm and all things turn sour.