People love to grumble. Much of the time, we don't even think about what we are saying.
"I'm so tired. I think I slept too much."
"I'm hungry, but I'm not hungry, hungry."
"I never get to use any of my sick days."
"All these clothes, but nothing to wear."
"There is nothing to watch on TV."
I don't know about you, but I am certainly guilty of such statements in my life. Usually with these types of declarations our intentions are not malevolent. Instead, we simply are struggling for a way to communicate our frustration with our current situation.
This, though, raises an interesting observation: Are we really grateful for the ways in which we have been blessed? In the aforementioned grumblings at least we were able to sleep; at least we have access to food and our health is good and we have clothes to wear and the option of technological entertainment.
Sure, we were annoyed by that flat tire this morning and we hate that we have to blow pine needles off our roofs, but oftentimes we forget the blessing of convenient transportation and having a roof over our heads.
Truth be told, most of us take a lot for granted. As a matter of fact, according to www.globalrichlist.com, if you make at least $25,000 a year you are among the top 10 percent of the richest people in the world. Said another way, that means that 90 percent of the world's population is poorer than you. That point might sting a bit for us, or it might provide a bit of motivation for an encouraged optimism and an enhanced sense of responsibility.
Maybe the next time we are tempted to grumble at our minor inconveniences in life our comprehension of how blessed we are might actually prohibit our grumbling.
What if every time we felt discomfort in our own situation we learned to rejoice at the blessings that God has provided? What if every time we felt such anxiety we chose instead to engage others with an unbridled thankfulness? What if every time we endured suffering of any kind we chose to pray for those who suffer far worse than us everyday of their lives? What if our grumbling was exchanged instead for action for and toward others in need?
Think of how contagious such optimism and positive action would be. Think about what an example we would provide for community and for future generations.
So how does one get started on such a path? Well, try this: Write down 10 things that you are thankful for and carry the list with you wherever you go for the next week. Then every time you find yourself grumbling about something -- in word, thought or deed -- stop, pull out your list and give thanks to God for the blessings you already have.
If you do this in earnest, you will be amazed at how the minor inconveniences of life seem to disappear and how you will start to notice old and new blessings alike. This is the case because part of developing spiritual maturity is derived by understanding how blessed we already are.
You have been given so much, and God has so much more to give you. Count your blessings and you will quickly find that your grumblings disappear.
The Rev. Christopher Benek is the associate pastor of family ministries at Providence Presbyterian Church. Read his blog at www.christopherbenek.com