A 30 Day No Complaining Challenge
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. --Philippians 4: 4-9
In the last few months in my devotion and prayer time, I have been actively studying, thinking, and seeking God’s guidance about how I can become a more peaceful and non-anxious presence in my work life, in my home life, and in my thought life. I tend to be more of a worrier than I care to admit. I also tend to be more negative and anxious than I would like to be.
Recently, I read a book about how our thoughts create our feelings, in turn our feelings often create our actions, and our actions produce the results we see and experience in our lives. This particular author named a fact that I had read before, but this time it stopped me in my tracks. She said, on an average, we have about 60,000 thoughts per day.
“Wow.” I thought to myself, “that means I have 60,000 times a day to choose what I think or to redirect my thinking from something negative to positive or something anxious to more peaceful!” Then, I immediately thought of the fourth chapter of Philippians.
The Book of Philippians is a collection of letters believed to be written from prison by the apostle Paul to the believers whom Paul and Timothy met when they first visited Philippi in Greece during Paul’s second missionary journey. The sentiment is one of gratitude for the support and encouragement Paul has received from them. Yet, as most preachers do, I wonder if he is not also preaching to himself.
Isolated in prison, Paul had every reason, it would seem, to be worried, afraid and despondent about his situation. Yet, in the fourth chapter, verses 4-9, we encounter his powerful words of how to guard one’s heart and mind from negativity. It is a simple, yet difficult challenge--to choose to focus and THINK upon the good, the truth, the beauty, and the blessings of life.
THIS is the challenge I am going to embark on for the next 30 days. I am going to challenge myself to 30 days of No Complaining. Simple enough, but I know it will not be without a great deal of effort, redirection and help from accountability partners. (Feel free to redirect me or be an accountability partner for me if you overhear me complaining or being negative or overly critical.)
My theory is: If I choose to focus on what is right, pure, lovely, or anything excellent or praiseworthy, not only my thought life, my feelings and my actions may change, but also the results could very well be that I discover a newer depth of God’s peace in my life.
I invite you to consider joining me in this 30-day challenge. Maybe we could compare our results. Either way, I will share with you how the challenge went for me and what I discovered. Day one starts today. Wish me luck.
Blessings, Rev. Shana Johnson, Conference Minister