Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
September 12, 2010
I have decided to stop complaining so much
I have noticed something lately that seems important. Most of my friends look bored when I start complaining. So I have drawn a few conclusions.
The first is that I need to stop complaining so much. That will be difficult because I am a gifted whiner. Griping has always been easy for me. I reckon it was a gift I was born with. I felt I had a calling – to point out the things that are wrong with everything – from politics to church.
But finally reality has sunk in. My listeners stare back at me with blank looks. Rarely does anyone nod in agreement. Only a fool would fail to get their silent message. Their yawning was my first clue. Then I noticed their glazed-over eyes. I imagine what they are thinking: “All your fussing makes me wish I was somewhere else. Listening to your jabbering is about as exciting as watching paint dry.”
I know I am right. I tried an experiment and proved it. Once or twice I paused intentionally, giving my audience a chance to say “Amen, brother.” But no one did. They just stared at me with that look of exhaustion that seems to say, “Is there nothing good that can come out of your mouth? I am sick and tired of your bellyaching. Walter, you are as dull as dishwater.”
Thank goodness I finally realized how people really felt about my gift for pontificating on any and every subject. Some folks never figure it out. I did. Did it hurt? Sure it did; the truth often hurts. But it made me realize I need to change. That is why I am giving up complaining, and it is not even Lent.
My second conclusion is that my friends are the kindest people in the world. Their compassion keeps them from telling me the truth. Were they to be honest, they would probably say, “Walter, your constant fussing makes you as boring as homemade sin. I am so tired of your grumbling that I could scream but you talk so much you probably would not even hear me.”
Another is thinking this: “Nobody cares what you think about the ills of the world. You need to get a life. The world is imperfect and it is filled with imperfect people. Your squawking does not change that one bit. You need to grow up, accept your own faults, and the faults of other people as well. Live in the real world old man.”
As I mull over what must be their true feelings I feel the urge to complain about their unwillingness to be honest with me. But I am not going to do it. I am turning over a new leaf. I am done with grumbling. If my friends want to be kind but refuse to share their real feelings with me that is their business. I am not going to fuss about it.
My third conclusion is that I need to become a better listener. I realize that listening is not one of my gifts. To correct that I will have to learn to keep my mouth shut. For a born talker like me, that is hard work. But I know I must do it. If I can learn to be a good listener, my friends will enjoy talking to me for a change. Everybody likes a good listener.
My life will be fun again. As long as I am listening, I will not be complaining. My friends will not be bored. I will not have to endure those pitiful blank stares and they will not have to endure my nitpicking criticism.
I am so excited. This sounds like a great plan. But one concern does trouble me. What if it turns out that my friends start complaining and I begin staring at them with a blank look on my face? What if I become a blessing to them by listening and they make my life miserable with their fussing? Won’t that be a happy day!
Well, if it happens, it happens. But one thing is certain: I will not complain about it. No sir. Not me. I have learned my lesson. I am determined to stop complaining so much. For me grumbling is over. I know I can do it. If I can just make it to Tuesday…. + + +