Yes, I’m a card-carying member of The Chronic Complainers Club.
Oh sure, I have had stretches of success in recent years at being mostly thankful, seeing my world for the blessings contained in it, growing in daily gratitude. And I’ve written much about these good things.
But I cannot deny that lately my inner curmudgeon has found me again. My focus has turned toward a few unpleasant circumstances that have been bringing me down. As I’ve fallen into the old trap of dwelling on these negative thoughts, I’ve lost a positive perspective and have become miserable and cranky.
Today I’ve been reminded that being a critic of daily circumstances profits nothing. It initiates a downward spiral of mood and energy, dragging with it not only my own soul but also the heart of anyone within reach of the poisonous negativity.
My dear wife has tried to warn me that Chronic Complainer had moved back in, but of course the Curmudgeon was in no mood to concede.
It took a few texts with a dear friend over the topic of local weather to fully open my eyes to the reality of the attitude I have been cultivating. My friend lives in a region of bountiful lush green forests and rivers…that exist because of bountiful fall, winter, and spring rains. While my friend craves sunshine, she maintains a patient and hopeful vigil for it, and when the clouds break for even a few minutes to reveal temporary rays of sun, or a delicious orange-creamsicle sunrise before a return to plodding rain, she celebrates those brief moments – tasting, savoring, joyfully thanking God for his goodness in creation.
What a stark contrast to the texts I had been writing her lately. I’d been focusing narrowly on my discomfort with humidity and heat, and my world had shrunk to consist of nothing but my own misery and an obsessive desperation to fix the problem.
But her refusal to play victim during her long dark rainy season suddenly shone like a beacon of light into my own discouragement. I felt hope awaken as I realized that complaining is a choice. I don’t have to be a slave to discouragement. I’ve been granted the power to choose what I focus on. My mindset is up to me.
To set the mind.
Suddenly I’m reminded of the wisdom of an ancient man, a follower of Jesus named Paul, who wanted to encourage a group of new Jesus followers in their attitudes and actions, and so he said,
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
Paul wanted these young Christians to overflow with joy at the excellence and beauty that is their savior Jesus, and to be filled with thankfulness at all the incredible spiritual blessings that were now theirs because of the powerful grace and love of Christ. And he understood that it came about by setting their minds.
Set your mind. Be intentional. Take control of what’s coming into your brain, and focus it on the good.
In my next blog I’ll delve into a practical everyday way that I hope can effectively set my mind – a tool for enabling the hope-filled, joyful, positive life outlook that pushes the curmudgeon out the door.
In the meantime, I’m keeping my Chronic Complainers Club membership card tucked away in my wallet as a reminder, because I know full well that I’ll be needing to have this talk with myself again…