An occasionally insightful co-worker of mine told me something the other day that I should have known years ago. After working an incredibly busy shift that just felt like everything that could go wrong did, she noticed me scurrying around the store like a drunk toddler not really mumbling, but continuously just talking, talking talking. The girl stopped, pointed, and laughed at me, as is her style. It truly is endearing to have someone do this to you ALL of the time… the words that came out of her mouth were,

“You know Jake, you talk a lot when you’re frustrated.”

It was one of those revelations that hits you in the face because it isn’t simply something funny to say, but it really is true and you should have known it a long time before this particular moment. My reaction was to laugh a little, then I kept on in my pattern of spinning my wheels around trying to get things done, still more or less muttering. Later, she added that she thinks that more than not, I think out loud, this newly recognized phenomenon isn’t limited to those times when I want to punch somebody in the kidney. I don’t know what else to call my excessive frustrated talking other than complaining.

Everybody’s doing it. Maybe not all of the time, but we know that life isn’t fair, that things go wrong, that sometimes we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, so what do we do? We express that frustration, anger, mild malice and inconsequential contempt through words. Sometimes they’re not very loud or harsh, but they’re there. We try to disguise the complaining, and say, “Well, somebody had to say something about it!” or “I just feel better when I speak it out [in little spurts of word vomit].” How unfortunate. I’d go so far as to tell you that I’ve done it on this blog! But you already knew that…

Who is our best and worst example of complaining? The Israelites during their wilderness experience! These poor people, who happened to be following God, seeing His miracles daily still managed to find something to be discontent with. They wanted meat, were afraid to attack the people God told them to, were looking for water, and the list goes on. So what did God do? He made them stay in the wilderness for forty years! (Deut. 14) Skip ahead a few thousand years to where I’m at and let us see what this means…

A couple of friends of mine have a magnet on their fridge that says, ” The more you complain, the longer God’s going to make you live!” I cringe everytime I think of this, and have recently come up with the phrase,

“I’m never gonna die!”

It’s more of a mournful expression than a happy one, in spite of how it might look. It sounds bad, believe me! The good news though, is that I have gotten in the habit of yelling this instead of complaining, which might be a new means to express myself when I want to act out violently! That or else it could just be another shroud over my complaining though… I haven’t quite figured out. Either way, I might begin to get worried when my age hits the triple digits.