When I worked at summer camp, our staff coordinator always started out training with her own set of "10 Commandments". For some reason, although most of them have faded out of my memory in the last decade or so, #2 still stays with me: "Thou shalt not grumble."* It's pretty obvious why that was important. Camp counselors work long days for little pay. Their attitudes set the tone for the kids in their care, so it's important not to complain and whine... unless they feel like dealing with 12 children whining right back.
Since I work in reception, it's still very important to have a good attitude. I don't want visitors to the church to hear me complaining, nor do I want to come across as a whiner to other staff. Still, the temptation can be so strong to go home and vent to my husband about all the "trials" of my day, and while that may feel helpful, it often doesn't actually help me to adjust my attitude. Instead, a small grumble leads to a bigger one, and now suddenly I'm annoyed at things that didn't even bother me before. This certainly doesn't help me connect with my husband either: He would certainly not prefer to spend our brief time together listening to my list of woes.
It's so easy to be a society of grumblers. We hate waiting. We hate bad service. We hate traffic. The problem is, most of these are unavoidable if we continue to live in cities and (usually) to put ourselves and our convenience ahead of that of others. Living in a grumbling society, we use our complaints as a form of bonding: "Yeah, I hate that cable company too!" This doesn't make us any happier, however, because instead of building one another up, we're tearing other people and things down.
Last week was quite a "grumbly" week for me. We were super-busy at work, and in general I wasn't busy with tasks that are among my strengths or giftings. Several times, I came home in the evening wishing I had checked my attitude more. This week, I'm resolving to be more careful about the things I let come out of my mouth, and the attitude I am cultivating.
What does the Bible say about this? Oh yeah, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." (Philippians 2:14-15). Obviously, I have a lot of room to grow!
*Evidently I'm not the only one who remembers this commandment. A few days ago, said person posted a facebook status that was somewhat negative. She immediately received this reply from another former counselor: "Is that grumbling I hear?"