The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'So much more'

Fumbling his confidence
And wondering why the world has passed him by
Hoping that he's bent for more than arguments
And failed attempts to fly, fly

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
"Meant to Live" from Beautiful Letdown by Switchfoot.

About a month ago, my husband told me about a church that was advocating a "complaint-free world." The pastor challenged everyone to go complaint-free for 21 days.

At first I loved the idea — especially for other people. I could go through a day without hearing my children say, "How come you do everything wrong?" I even tried it. But telling myself to not complain all day just made me think about it all the more. The more I thought about not complaining, the more I wanted to complain. It reminded me of going on a diet. You know, you say to yourself, "Don't eat the ice cream, brownies, cookies and chips" and, before you know it, you're eating it all.

Instead, why not replace complaining with another action? Here are some that might work:

Lament. Sometimes small, constant complaints are signs of big griefs. Psychologists have proven that writing down your laments, your story of the difficulties of your life, can be physically healing. Ask yourself, "What story do I need to tell?"

Ask. Complaints can hide needs. We complain about a friend who talks compulsively because we need this friend to hear us. Look at the content of your complaints and ask yourself, "What do I need?" Ask for it.Practice gratitude. Once, when I was complaining about some marketing snafu with one of my books, it hit me: I wrote a book. I felt immediately grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I love. Ask yourself, "Is there anything in this situation I'm grateful for?"

Let go. Constant complaining can be a neon sign that you need to let go of something — perhaps a relationship, a job or a commitment. Evaluate the situation. If you've done what you could (including asking for what you need) and nothing has changed, it may be time to leave.

Create. In the midst of complaining, I've found that digging into the projects I'm passionate about can bring relief, healing and hope.

I love the line in the Switchfoot song, "We were meant to live for so much more." We are. You are. And maybe the biggest reason to replace complaints with something else is this: complaints can keep us from that "so much more." And that's a shame. Without your "so much more," the world is missing something. Make your own list of things to do instead of complaining. Then ask: How does it change your life?


This week's front page features:

Payday loans neon'There really is hope.' In this country — and beyond — the church toils to terminate hunger. (Photo at right.)

'My biggest fear is becoming homeless.' Disabled single parent Judy Garrison shares her story.

Food stamp simulation proves challenging: Participants live on a budget of $1 per person, per meal for one week.

What's in your backpack? For these kids it's weekend food and a book from 'Good Neighbors.'

Also: A proposal for the church.

Also: Hunger-fighting strategies and trends.

Also: Waters of life.

Read these articles at our front page...

Tell us! Boomer feedback needed fast!

As America's 77 million baby boomers approach retirement age, they're asking, "Where do we go from here?" In the April issue, The Lutheran will explore this question as it reports on the faith life of boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and the impact this generation has on ELCA congregations.

Boomer readers, we want to hear from you. How has being part of this generation influenced your spirituality? How has it influenced your involvement in and understanding of the church? What impact do you believe the baby boomers will have on the church in the years ahead?

Using those questions as a guide, email your response (500 words or fewer) to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org by Feb. 15.

Or respond online...

This week on our blog:

Kathy KastilahnKathleen Kastilahn (right) blogs about cookies.

Julie Sevig writes about our "nature deficit."

Check out our blog...

The February issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived:

Don't let them miss another issue!
The Little LutheranThe Little Lutheran helps children 6 and younger learn about God's love for them and the world in which they live. It teaches them about Jesus, their friend and savior.
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