Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Can't Complain But Sometimes I Still Do

I shouldn't be here.  I should be driving home from visiting my daughter in New York. But a nor'easter got in the way, forcing us to rise at 3 a.m. the day before our scheduled departure and drive as rapidly as possible across Manhattan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to stay ahead of a giant storm.

And for that I am grateful. Somehow God managed to get me to New York a day early ... for a client event that was cancelled ... so I got to see my daughter as much as I would have without the storm. We stayed ahead of the storm until New Stanton, Pa., and the drive wasn't nearly as awful as it could have been. And I have an extra day to get ready for a challenging week.

So, in the words of Joe Walsh: I can't complain, but sometimes I still do.  And when I do, I have to move a bracelet from one arm to another.  Fans of "A Complaint-Free World: Take the 21-Day Challenge" by Will Bowen will recognize that I have, in fact, taken the 21-day challenge that takes the average person about eight months to achieve. I may be wearing this bracelet, switching it from arm to arm whenever I complain, criticize or gossip, for months to come.

It turns out that St. James was right. The tongue is like a rudder to a ship. If it becomes negative, your life becomes negative. So we need to control the tongue with the help of grace as much as possible.  Yet, even if we stop complaining, we still have those thoughts. That's why I'm grateful for the other book I'm reading: "Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Gratitude and praise are the keys to moving our thinking out of a terrible torrent that she calls "the undertow of life in a fallen world."  It's the place where you focus on what you "should" have that you don't. It's when you think life is hard and overwhelming, and you start to believe the original lie that God is not good.  Gratitude and praise get you to the place where you know that life is broken, but God is good.

Indeed, my meditation passage this morning was wisdom from Francis of Assisi. Christians follow a broken Christ into a broken world. Disappointment and challenge are our landscape. This is the place where we can be a light, where we can glorify God, where it matters the most.

So whenever I think "I shouldn't be here," I try to remember.  Yes, I'm supposed to be here. A good God allowed this, and let's look for a reason to be grateful for it.

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