Last week I fought the grumpies for a couple of days. As I was in the midst of this battle one morning, the lower dishwasher rack came partially off the tracks on the door. It has the tendency to do this occasionally, and I have the tendency to be royally irked by it.
Feeling my temper flare, I shouted, “I hate it hate it hate it!” Immediately I felt foolish for my lack of self-control (because a dishwasher is just something you shouldn’t complain about), and then, along with that sense of guilt came a thought – a challenge, really:
What if I praised as loud as I complained? What if every time I yelled in frustration, I immediately changed my tune and shouted praise and thanksgiving, in volume equal to that of my complaint?
It took me a few minutes to gather my courage, but after I picked up something else to put in the dishwasher I opened it up and hollered (for lack of anything wittier to say), “I like it I like it I like it!” (I admit, I wasn’t quite brave enough to say it quite as loud as I had complained. Dad was on the phone, after all.)
I won’t deny it, I felt kind of foolish, doing that.
Why do we feel less conspicuous when we scowl than when we smile?
Why do we complain in shouts and give thanks in whispers?
Let’s face it, when we’ve got a case of the grumps, we are fully aware that we’re not exactly exuding the Fruit of the Spirit. We’re usually not too afraid to have other people notice it, either. In those moments when we release self-control, lose our temper and throw a grown-up version of a fit, we don’t much care how nasty we look.
But to burst out into a fit of praise, when the dishwasher comes off the tracks or a clean floor gets dirty or children are misbehaving or the internet is down, or when we just know God is good and we ought to recognize it audibly for a moment?
Horrors. How embarrassing!
But wait. Aren’t we commanded by God to give thanks in everything? And when King David, whom God called a man after His own heart and who continuously sought to praise God both publicly and privately, was berated by his wife for making a fool of himself in front of his subjects by dancing before the Lord with all his might when the ark of the Lord was brought to his city, he replied, “I will celebrate before the LORD, and I will humble myself even more and humiliate myself.” (2 Samuel 6:21b-22a)
Praising Even When It Feels Weird
It doesn’t sound as though we’re supposed to prize our personal sense of dignity over our responsibility of praising God. So then, what if we take those moments when we’re just about to make fools of ourselves (or when we just have), when we have the urge to let something out, and instead of releasing something ugly, we release something beautiful?
It might feel crazy to us, especially at first; but to God, it’s perfectly appropriate.
Turning Defeat into Victory
That evening, as I was pouring juice into a glass, some of it spilled onto the floor. Right away I growled in frustration, but then stopped myself and burst into my favorite song for such occasions: “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.” My mother, who was nearby, promptly joined my little concert, and together we cleaned up the floor.
I felt a little less strange that time. But I’m glad that both times I challenged my cowardly sin nature, that would rather complain loudly and praise quietly. Because God is just too good a God for His children to go around yelling like people who have no sufficient grace offered continuously to them to help them have self-control when irritating things happen.
Singing Instead of Screaming
So I share with you the challenge: next time you find yourself in a grumbling mood and something makes you holler in anger, be brave enough to change your tune and praise in equal proportion and volume to that of your complaint. And please note, this isn’t about about pretending like everything is hunky-dory when you really feel like blowing your top. It’s about winning a life-over-death battle against your sin nature and doing everything you have to- even if it feels foolish- to stand your ground. It’s about taking a moment that could lead to failure and turning it into a moment of victory by God’s grace. Making a sacrifice of praise.
At any rate, knowing you might have to yell something like “I like it I like it I like it!” is pretty good motivation not to complain in the first place. 😉
Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name. ~Hebrews 13:15