This little purple band is a curious thing. We have been to challenged to wear it as a reminder of our commitment to the “No complaining for 21 days” effort. We’re to switch wrists if we complain and then start again at Day 1. (for more read more here)
Friends tell me:
- their kids refuse to wear them. Of course not! What kid would willingly give up the power they hold in complaining?
- it is annoying! They don’t like anything on their hands. What is a reminder, if it doesn’t get your attention.
- their grand kids have made it their mission to get them to complain, thus having to switch their band. Clever grand kids.
- they have censored themselves on Facebook. No comment.
- they handled a thrashing on the athletic field as “great opportunity to improve” and this spoken in halting words as they rolled up their sleeve to twang (but not switch) the band.
It’s a purple piece of rubber!
No one else in my family is wearing this band. As far as I know, no one else on my street is wearing this band. Now that the weather has turned cool and we have pulled on our sweatshirts and jackets who could tell? But I am and I know it, because the thing keeps slipping up and down my wrist and flopping in my way and getting caught on my sleeve and falling off when I take off my sweatshirt and sticking on my mouse pad when I try to type and obscuring my watch face when I look at the time and do you take it off in the shower and…well, you get the picture. It demands attention. That’s its job.
Who knew what power a wrist band could have? I’m not sure it’s the band. I think it may be the power behind the band. Our pastor has called the attention to a non-complaining lifestyle a spiritual discipline, and it seems to have claim each of us differently. Which sounds very like the Spirit to me.
For me, it’s a self editor. Not a “shut up and don’t say that” but more of a “check and see if this is what you want to say, how you want to say it and how you want them to hear it.” Now, there is a learning curve, my family would assure you. I’ve had plenty of, ‘oops, that was a complaint’ moments. (switch) But increasingly they are, ‘I said that positively, right?’ or ‘lemme think how best to phrase this’ or ‘perhaps this could wait’ or even ‘never mind, it’s not that big a deal’ moments.
Yep, ironically, there’s been a progression in the no complaining process. That band and its prohibition has got me stopping and thinking before speaking. Go figure. I think it even has me dismissing complaint-thoughts more quickly. “Can’t complain?…what’s the point in wasting the energy?”
Which makes me realize that my complaining may have been fueling the thoughts all along. My words igniting the thoughts, which were inciting the words, which were enabling the thoughts. A vicious feedback loop. Now that I’m not giving it the satisfaction. Poof, the whole energy sapper starts withering away. Which is just fine with me. Who’s got time and energy to waste?
I kidded with my friends that the bands were an outward sign of an inward dis-grace. But I fear it’s true. Nothing like a physical annoyance to remind us there is work to be done and it requires our attention.
No complaining. Period. For 21 days in a row. That’s the challenge that has been issued to folks at Floris UMC for the month of September by our pastor. Him included. We are wearing purple wrist bands to remind us of our pledge and to help us keep tabs. Every time we complain we must switch our band to the other wrist. And return to Day One.
I like challenges. I like physical reminders. And, I am prone to complain. But I also try to do what I’m told, so I set out yesterday to begin my 21 days. And wouldn’t you know? I found someone’s behavior quite irritating.
No complaining, I told myself. But I was too late. I had already registered the complaint internally, which, of course, meant that God heard my complaint and had hit the Divine Gong. Switch that band.
Whoa. Wait a minute. Complaint free means not only no complaining to people but no complaining to God. I’m not sure, but I think that includes no journaling my complaints either, because they’re intended for Him, too. This is gonna be harder than I thought!
I mean, even when I manage to keep what I’m thinking to myself AND avoid sharing it with a group of friends who SURELY will support me and validate the righteous indignation I feel, I still dump on God. Regularly. Because I want Him to DO something about all these injustices.
And He takes it. He absorbs all my grievances, likely with a great shake of the head or a deep furrow of the divine brow, and hears me out. In fact, He listens. And when I listen back, I hear myself reflected. Most the time we are in agreement. That is a terrible situation. That is an unfair practice. Those are tragic circumstances.
But our God isn’t a Mr- Fix-it God. My complaints are really meant for THAT God. Won’t you please repair him. Won’t you please help them get along. Won’t you please chastise those people for being so rude …so proud…so insensitive. I want Him to do my dirty work.
God listens, but He has also spoken. His answer is us.
- Take your grievance to the one who needs to hear it.
- Take your cause to the one who can enact it.
- Apply your energy to right what you see wrong.
- Stand for those who cannot or are not standing on their own.
…with my blessing, as I would if were I you. Ask it and then act, In My Name. That may be the truest Love of all.
What a quiet September God is going to have.