Have you ever made a list of things that you want to complain about, even if it is just a list of random thoughts in your head? I’ll be vulnerable and share a few common themes within mine: How come I always have to take out the garbage? Am I the only person in this house that knows how to put the roll of toilet paper on the holder? and, Seriously, you just kick your shoes off in front of the door when the shoes rack is right there, just a few feet away?
Being the good Christian-in-progress that I am, I have learned to use my inside voice, but you will see that I have also learned, that even if I don’t express them verbally, God still knows my thoughts of discontentment and ungratefulness and it seems that – lately – He has been putting me in situations that humble me; keeping my heart and mind in check.
This just happened yesterday.
It was Sunday and for a May spring day, it was a bit chilly (so I was mentally whining about the weather). It was the night after the senior prom so my teenager planned to sleep in, which meant she would miss church (so I was pouting about not being at church as a family). I’m still without a job and my car payment is coming due (so I was having a bit of a pity party about my current unemployment status), but then…
I showed up to teach my 3rd grade Sunday School Class and all was going well until a young mom came to my classroom door to pick up her daughter after church. Weeks earlier, I sent all my 3rd graders an Easter card and her daughters card was returned to me. I thought I was doing her a service by reminding her to update her address with our church administrator, but her response was not one I was expecting. She looked at me with her big blue eyes and her words shook me the rest of the day, “We don’t currently have an address, we were evicted last week and we are homeless, but it’s OK, Jesus will take care of us, we’re going to be fine.”
WHAT!!!!! Homeless?! Oh there is not enough space in this blog to record what all ran through my mind in that split second and I can’t get that beautiful 3rd grade face out of my head. DANG!
I can say this, my attitude sure changed and will continue to change based on this new found perspective. I assure you that I will replace the next toilet paper roll with a cheerful demeanor, and that overflowing garbage will be delivered to the bin with a little bounce in my step. That tired teenager who rolled herself out of bed at 2-something in the afternoon, I lavished with words of love and affirmation and expressed a genuine interest about how her night went while debriefing her about the highlights of my day at church. Oh, and this job search I’m enduring… it’s as if God is proving a point that He is my provider and guess what, car payment schmar payment – I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator and a mailbox at the end of my driveway. How dare I be ungrateful, how dare I worry or be concerned about anything. “Oh wretched Israelite that I am…”
So just when you think you are entitled to a complaint or two, just wait. God has a way of bringing us to a place of humility, and all of a sudden life really isn’t so bad. That list of complaints that drain us of fulfillment and bury us in self-pity are not of God. Each person God places in front of us gives us the opportunity to serve, encourage, support and build up. In the process we learn and glean far more when we get ourselves out of the picture and pour ourselves into the lives of others. We don’t know what people are going through and what circumstances they are cooping with; chances are, your “stuff” isn’t so bad when you stack it next to someone Else’s “stuff.”
Oh, dear Lord, I am so sorry for my selfishness, discontentment, bad attitude and ungrateful heart. Thank you for reminding me that it’s not about me and will never be about me. Please continue to provide for this Mom and bless her for her confident, unwavering faith. May my shortcomings teach others to be more aware of those around us and be encouraged themselves to live in humility.
Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”