Saturday, April 8, 2017

What The Complaint!

The Days of Unleavened Bread will soon be upon us. (  The thing that sticks most in my mind from my childhood about this prep time is cleaning the house from top to bottom with the focus on getting every last possible dust crumb of leavening out of the house.  Scripture tells us that no leaven shall be found or seen among you, with the emphasis on not eating leavened bread but instead eating unleavened bread.  We should also know that leaven represents sin so that the spiritual lesson was to get the “sin” out of our lives so that none should be found among us and we were to not partake of it either.  The focus as I recollect was more on removing the physical leavening and less on removing the sin which the leaven represents.  And why not, it is much easier to throw out some old bread than it is to remove some besetting sin in our lives.

At this point in my life I am much more interested in spending time and energy removing the “sin” or perhaps better said, the things that are displeasing to my Heavenly Father from my life then some crumbs now turned to dust that no one would consider as food, let alone leavened bread.  In part of an email I received today I found a spiritual “leaven” that should be removed from all our lives.  Below is the excerpt from my permaculture email that set me on this path that I will share.  Hopefully it will inspire you to want to clean up this “leaven” from your life as well.

Solutions, Not Problems: One of the hallmarks of permaculture is its focus on solutions. Bill was almost maniacal about this - solution, solution, solution. Yes, problems exist, but to make a lasting and real difference, we should spend only enough time to fully understand the problem, then move rapidly to its solution. In other words, just enough time to understand deeply and intuitively, not forever dwell on the negatives. The difference between the two is not trivial, but could make all the difference between good health and the lack thereof, as has been described here. And if you want to take it to the next level, check out Will Bowen’s 21-day Complaint-Free Challenge here. And a hilarious example of someone actually trying to do the 21-day challenge here.

If you are a student of scripture, you should know that one of the main beefs that God has with His children is when they complain.  Especially looking back at the group who observed the first Passover and Unleavened Bread ironically enough.  If I was to say what the single thing that most led to the literal downfall of the children of Israel in the story of the Exodus, it would be complaining.  Complaining doesn’t really solve any problems or bring life to a situation.  I would say its root might be in pride because it is usually done to puff oneself up and is not from the position of humility.  But what exactly is complaining and how do we stop this behavior?

The first link in the excerpt above leads to an article entitled: Complaining Is Terrible for You, According to Science.  There are 3 main points in the article.  The first point talks about how the way we think creates pathways in our brains that then can become ruts to continue in that type of thinking.  This can work for the positive but also for the negative.  After a period of time this can affect our personality and character.  Scripture tells us to think on those things that are good. (Philip 4:8)  The second point talks about how those around us, people we hang out with affect us.  This can be both a positive or negative influence.  We are admonished in scripture to choose our friends wisely. (Prov 12:26; 13:20)  The third point in this article talks about how negative thoughts negatively affect the health of our whole body. (Prov 23:7; Rom 8:6)

The second excerpt link is to Will Bowen’s website and highlights some of his material including a 21 day challenge to stop complaining.  The challenge comes with the visual assistance of a purple bracelet that you wear on your wrist.  If you complain about something then you switch the bracelet to your other wrist and start your day count over with the goal to keep the wrist on one hand for 21 days straight.  This challenge has become quite popular and you may have heard of it in the past.  The reason for the 21 day period Will says is so it will become a habit.  I went to his video section and watched his “I Believe” main channel video.  The video pointed out 5 main reasons for complaining using the GRIPE acronym. 

Get Attention
Remove Responsibility
Inspire Envy
Excuse Poor Performance

Quotes from the video: 
“If you are not happy with what you have, why would you want more?”

“If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.  Don’t complain.”

“We spend so much time focusing on what’s wrong in our lives by complaining that we actually perpetuate all this bad stuff and even create more”

The third and final excerpt link was an article posted by Michael Dawson and his experience in the 21 day challenge.  He brings out some interesting thoughts in his article about what constitutes a complaint.  To me it really comes down to a matter of the heart or the person’s attitude.  This can make it more difficult to determine what really is a complaint, especially if we are only looking at what is written down.  Do we know the tone the words were spoken in?  I don’t think that we should just simply never express any problems we are having.  Consider prayer, we are told we have not because we ask not but I think the key here is the spirit or attitude in which we express ourselves.  (Jam 4:2)  I like the idea the author gave in finding a way to rephrase our complaints into a positive light:  “The reality is you can perform some verbal gymnastics that allow you to express negative sentiments without complaining. “This traffic sucks” can become “I would love it if this traffic would clear.”” The author talks about the idea of “mindfulness” as a way to think about what you are saying and not just blurt out unfiltered speech.  The article describes this as “being present in any given moment” or “being aware of what you’re doing and what’s happening around you”.  Being mindful is a good goal.  Michael eventually succeeded in his goal of the 21 day challenge.  This is great but I think we will be more successful in our lives with the issue of complaining if we don’t just “bite our tongue” but also change the way we think.  This goes back to the first article and how these new pathways of positivity, although maybe hard at first, should become easier and our default response over time.  I know with God’s help, we can succeed!  (Philip 4:13)  Yeshua also stepped up the Old Testament commands and brought them above and beyond just our actions to our thoughts.  (Matt 5:22,28)

Do we even realize how much and how often we complain?  How often are we guilty of speaking without thinking?  I plan to use the time of the coming 7 days of unleavened bread to guard my tongue as well as my thoughts, but instead of moving a bracelet from one wrist to another, I will be bringing my failings in prayer to my Creator and seek His help in changing my life from one of complaint to one of gratitude.  I will also need to employ the help of those around me, mainly my spouse, in helping me recognize the times when I am complaining without thinking.  When I think of complaining, instead I need to aspire to turn the complaint into thoughts of gratitude and blessing.  Leave a comment if this blog post inspired you to:

1 Thes 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.