I was sitting at my computer and on the phone last week helping my son with a problem with a government agency. Since he is in Jordan he couldn’t do this for himself. I started at 10 and a bit later I glanced at the clock. It was after 2. I thought about the award I might receive –Mother of the Year- maybe. I could tearfully accept. Yes for four hours I was on the phone hitting 1 for English and hearing “listen carefully to our menu as our options have changed over and over again. When I was on my way down that path to full-blown complaining I was caught up short by this book that I had been reading; The Color of Grace. It tells the story of a ministry that brings therapy and help to children who have been child soldiers in Africa.
I’d like to explain why this book stopped me from complaining and what I think is the antidote for complaining.
The child soldiers are kidnapped in central Africa, many by Joseph Kony head of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Children as young as 7 are forced to engage in battles and do things that are so horrific that I can’t go into detail. Not only do they not complain even though they do need therapy they are also grateful for what they do have now and forgiving of their captors.
They were asked to write letters to the world. I’ll just read two excerpts from letters the children wrote.
What helps me trust God in the middle of war is because I saw His hand of mercy when He saved me from death. Molly, Uganda
Another one: In spite of war in Congo I know that I live today because of the grace of God; He’s the first and last. He is my refuge. I know that God loves me and will use my heartaches to help others. Andres: The Congo
No complaining or blaming. As I sat in my warm, comfortable, safe home going down that path of complaining bothered me so much because I felt like I was in a sense sinning against these children.
I believe the antidote for complaining is thankfulness. It’s very difficult to complain and be thankful at the same time.
- J. Jacobs is the author of The Year of Living Biblically. He tried to keep the over 700 laws that he found in both the Old and New Testament which he found was impossible. Although he’s incredibly funny, he made a serious point. One of the biggest take aways from that year was the life changing act of giving thanks. The Bible says give thanks in all things. He realized that there are 100s of things that go right everyday and maybe 3 or 4 little things that go wrong. Giving thanks helped him focus on the things that went right. We do have battles in our lives; most of which are in our minds. Our most effective weapon is to be thankful. Sometimes I give thanks cheerfully but sometimes it’s through gritted teeth like last week. I think I need to add another goal Complain less, Give thanks more.
By: Sherrie Evans