A year or so ago, someone at church gave a talk about "murmuring" and gossiping. He pointed out that we should not murmur and mutter, as the Israelites did, and gave some ideas about how to turn the conversation if someone is gossiping or complaining (murmuring) about someone else. I listened and determined that I would do better, and for a while I focused on looking for the positive. Eventually, though I thought of it occasionally, my focus went elsewhere. Just a few weeks ago, though, I came across a YouTube video about "A Complaint-Free Revolution". What a great set of videos! I went to the website, where they present a 21-day challenge--no murmuring or complaining for 21 days straight. Always ready for a challenge, and always willing to improve myself, I decided to take the challenge. That was 2 or 3 weeks ago. So far, I've only made it through 1 full day without complaining, and I blew it the next day.
Do you know how easy it is to murmur and complain? I'd never realized how easy it is to fall into that trap, and how much I'd let myself wander there. On acomplaintfreeworld.org, you can buy flexible plastic bracelets to remind yourself not to blow it again. The idea is, that each time you see the bracelet, you'll be reminded. I dn't have a bracelet, so I just put a scrunchie or other hair tie around my wrist, and when I complain or murmur, I switch it from one wrist to the other. Many days I make it until 8:00 or 9:00 at night, and then I slip and have to start all over again. Hmmm. Could it be that when I'm tired, I'm more prone to complaining? Now there's a thought!
I've discovered is that it's not always clear to me whether I'm complaining or not. For example, this morning I backed my truck out of the driveway and didn't turn sharply enough. Yesterday's snowstorm and subsequent plowiing had left a few sizeable snow banks on our private road, and I went just far enough to catch one of my back wheels in the outside of one. I exclaimed, "Oh, crap! That was pretty dumb!" Is that a complaint? I got out of the truck, dug out the wheel, put down a little sand, and off I went, wondering if I needed to start over again.
Another thing I realized is that those imaginary conversations I have--you know the kind, where you're thinking of someone that you have a (ahem) difficult relationship with--often are about disagreements. Whew! That must be the muttering part of murmuring and muttering! Or is it? Perhaps it's just planning the conversation when you see that person? Or is that justification? I'm coming to the conclusion that the more I keep my mouth shut, even when I'm alone (or perhaps especially when I'm alone), the better off I'll be. There are some great URLs that discuss the topic, which is preached against in many scriptures. One particularly cogent article, which I came across this morning, is called "The Sin of Murmuring". Another is "Grumbling, Murmuring, Complaining". They helped clarify the truck incident, for example.
Ah! We are all too human, and truly "the natural man is an enemy to God". Tonight when I go to bed, I'm going to have had a complaint-free day, and tomorrow I will start Day 2.