I have become rather impatient with complaining lately. I know, I know, as we mature we're supposed to become better people and be more patient, right? Well, not me. I think it's an impatience for myself that I end up projecting on to others. I can be quite a victim. When bad things happen, it is really easy for me to say, "Look at all I've been through, I deserve to feel bad and be sad and you should feel sorry for me!" But then, interestingly, I get annoyed when people feel sorry for me. What a weirdo, right? I think because I don't like myself as a victim. Who likes a helpless, pathetic person?
Seriously, why do we complain so much? Really, is life that bad that we can't see all the blessings? Is there really that much to worry about? We have food, homes, and people that we love and that love us. We are among the richest in the world, considering we have indoor plumbing, cell phones, cars, etc. Not to mention, we were created by the God of the universe who is crazy in love with us. Yet we still find so much to complain about, so much to hold us back, that we sometimes allow the bad to outweigh the good. Why?
I had to write three major essays for my finals this year, and two of them were based on this theme of "quit complaining, suck it up, and deal with it." One of them was pretty open-ended - just an essay about the future of the university. I discussed how it is the responsibility of the students to be sovereign over their education, and how they can't blame the school or anything else if they fail. Very tough, very blunt. No coddling here. (I sort of felt like I was writing to myself...in a weird way with the good angel on my one shoulder lecturing the devil on my right shoulder.) My second final was a literary analysis on the Shakespearean play Othello. How did I make Othello about not giving up? Simple. I did a character analysis of Desdemona, who suffers a lot of mistreatment throughout the play and yet still maintains her dignity and acts with integrity right up until the part where she's murdered by her husband. (Othello is a very dark play, and creepy.) I showed how she was the true hero of the play because she did not fall into the victim trap. (The funny thing is that I have the same professor for these two different classes, so I'm wondering if he will sense that same theme when he grades my papers.)
I didn't even realize this theme until I finished both finals and read them. That's when I realized that I've lost my patience with people who feel sorry for themselves (including me). Don't get me wrong - if you're experiencing something genuinely difficult, I do sympathize. I hate the idea of people I love suffering in any way, and I'm happy to listen to my friends who need to talk about painful or trying situations they are in. I hope I'm not coming across as a cold-hearted jerk, because I'm not. I know that there are really painful things in life, and I mourn with those who mourn, cry along with them, and pray for their pain to be healed. I guess I should clarify that I've lost my patience with people who choose to make their problems bigger than they really are. I guess maybe it's the lack of perspective that particularly annoys me, especially if it is holding people back from really loving and appreciating life.
My gift is exhortation. That means that I love encouraging others. But more than that, I love encouraging others to move beyond whatever situation they are in. If you are sad, I will sit and be sad with you. But if you only want to complain and feel sorry for yourself and make your sad time last as long as possible, I might just point to my flower tattoo and say, "I think you're stronger than this, and you need to suck it up and keep living your life." Actually, I probably wouldn't say that exactly, but it would be the idea.
Ultimately...each day is God's gift...make the most of each one! We can't really do that when we're choosing to focus on all the bad things.
...and if you catch me playing that victim role, please, by all means, remind me of my own blog. I love being preached at with my own words. ;)