Hello Friend! Day Six

Hello Friend!

I am going to challenge us both a bit today.

Do you have a lot of rules and expectations on how people should behave? Do you find yourself regularly disappointed in people and situations and complaining about it to the nearest person, even if you don’t know them? Are you a grumbler?

I will be honest with you: I hate when I am in that kind of space. I don’t like being around me and I wouldn’t enjoy being around you either! And really, who wants to be around someone who regularly complains?

One of the worst things you can say about me is that I complain too much. Of course, there are things here and there that might not go as planned and I might mention them, occasionally. But if you can honestly say to me “You complain more often than not,” well, that will crush me. I do not want to be that person. Please tell me I don’t do that. But, I need you to be honest with me too. So, please tell me the truth.

Complaining is ugly. And it can make the most beautiful person ugly.

I know I am a person who verbally processes and so the first thing I have a tendency to do is open my mouth, for good and for bad. But if I am not happy about a situation, grumbling and complaining to those around me cannot be my default. I have to find another way to process disappointment.

Once in a while I like to try to disguise my complaining as “making an observation” but is that just semantics? Probably. At best a complaining spirit is a bad habit. At worst, it’s a habit of my heart.

When I am unsatisfied with things I try to ask myself “Where is my heart today?” If I spend time each morning recalling the new mercies I have been granted by my gracious God I think it will become easier to grant grace and mercy to others!

Tell me, how do you process disappointment?

Love,
Liz

Reaction vs. Response

For some reason, those two words feel very differently to me. So I checked in with Merriam Webster to see what the distinction might be. I guess the difference is mainly that a response, as an action, is neutral but a reaction can be positive or negative. I don’t know. What do you think?

Definition of reaction

1athe act or process or an instance of reacting

bresistance or opposition to a force, influence, or movement especially tendency toward a former and usually outmoded political or social order or policy

2a response to some treatment, situation, or stimulus her stunned reaction to the news alsosuch a response expressed verbally critical reaction to the play

Definition of response

1an act of responding 

2something constituting a reply or a reaction: such as

aa verse, phrase, or word sung or said by the people or choir after or in reply to the officiant in a liturgical service

bthe activity or inhibition of previous activity of an organism or any of its parts resulting from stimulation

cthe output of a transducer or detecting device resulting from a given input

How do you respond to situations? What is your tendency? Do you rush to judgment? Collect the facts first? Are you willing to hear everyone out? Are you a “reactor” or a “responder”?

Of course, it all depends on the situation. Some do call for quick action. But for normal, everyday things that happen, do you have a tendency to be negative about whatever you are facing?

And are you happy with it?

Training ourselves to respond calmly to situations is important. Paying attention to the words that come out of our mouths is important. Along with that, habits like eye-rolling, heavy sighing, foot stomping, door slamming, needing to have the last word, and low-register grumbling are just as important to gain control of.

Here is a challenge for both you and me:

Let’s spend the next 24 hours without uttering a complaint. Will life be all rosy and full of tulips and puppy kisses? I doubt it. But we can still spend 24 hours not verbally complaining. If you really need to “complain”, write it down in a notebook and in 24 hours decide if you still need to present the complaint.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] [Philippians 2: 14-15, NIV]

Blessings to you as you consider reactions and responses!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: BOXES

Complaining

It is so easy to fall into a rut with complaining but it casts a shadow on whatever the experience was, even if the problem was minor. Even “helpful suggestions for improvement” register as complaints to the other person. So be sure to exercise your mind and also come up with several positive observations to share.

Does every issue or annoyance need to be voiced?

I don’t think so.

I get it, life can be frustrating and things don’t always go smoothly. But that has always been the case. Adding fuel to the tension of the situation by eye rolling and grumping and slamming things around does not help anything work more smoothly and it opens the doors for other issues.

Honestly, some things are not worth complaining about.

And some things are.

The principle behind The Boy Who Cried Wolf comes to mind in a time like this. If you complain about everything, then people tend to turn you “off”, ignore you, or label you as immature. And when you have something important to say, they have been trained to blow you off.

Yes, there are times a complaint is warranted, but be careful lest complaining becomes a regular part of your personality emissions. It’s a habit that does not draw people in. It’s true, life is not all roses and buttercups – but, whatever your particular situation happens to be – there are people way worse off and dealing with much bigger issues and not making a huge issue out of it. Negativity might get you some action but you can compel more people into action when you choose your words and approach with care.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
    and gracious words promote instruction.

22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,
    but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction.

2Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. [Proverbs 16:21-24, NIV]

Want to address an injustice? Fight on behalf of someone who needs help. Don’t be so caught up in yourself and the inconveniences you experience that you miss the bigger picture.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow. [Isaiah 1:17, NIV]

Complaining and grumbling are habits. Bad ones. You don’t have to gloss over bad behavior but as you look for your voice, find one that speaks Truth but also can be listened to. If you intersperse a tiny bit of truth in an angry and accusatory presentation, it will be lost.

What are you fighting for?

Liz

PrayerPrompt: REACTION vs. RESPONSE