I learn a lot about myself by paying attention to the first things on my mind and out of my mouth in the morning. Those are the thoughts and words that have steeped in my subconscious, and they bubble out first thing, before they've been polished up and passed inspection. Some-glorious-times, my first thought is Jesus and a song.
Other times my pillow is too hard and sleep was too short; the coffee's not ready and my body refuses to be younger. I wake up with complaints. Discontent. Grumbling.
This week it's a stiff neck, among other things. My first words Sunday were about how sore my neck was and my husband heard them. Later, as we pulled into the church parking lot, I turned stiffly to look at him and say something, and he asked if my neck was sore.
"Yes," I said. "If you'd listen to me I wouldn't have to complain so much!" It was funny but not funny, because my heart just came out of my mouth and I'm the one who always says just because you have a thought, doesn't mean you need to say it.
Sometimes I fail to filter my thoughts.
I sing during worship but I dread leaving for Sunday School because of what I'll miss in service. I dread that I will spend the next hour with kids who'll be rowdy and the sun is shining outside and they'll come with handfuls of cookies for extra vigor and I just want to sit and be fed.
I dread that I said yes. I dread that I dread this serving that I know is no service at all, but duty spoiled with complaining, and I'm spoiling everything I touch today.
Complaints breed like rabbits and funny how everyone has them, but not funny how my complaining spoils the silence we're trying to keep about our grievances.
I have a stiff neck, and if you'd just pay attention I wouldn't have to complain so much.
This stiff neck makes my eyes watery during worship and don't I wish that the room were just dark so I could blubber like the idiot I need to be right now - the one who starts the day complaining and goes to church complaining and wants someone to pay attention so she can just. stop. complaining. already.
You are worried that I am not present in that classroom; that I am only here in this sanctuary and not with you and with those kids and glad for your service. You are worried that you won't be filled or fed or refreshed in serving Me; that you are missing out on something better.
I suppose that's it. And those probing questions I heard during worship extended beyond Sunday School, because my complaints were about so much more.
Most complaints are a stiff-necked desire for something "better".
Most complaints are a fear that there is a better way to spend our time or energy or resources.
Most complaints are a desire for justice or compassion - and all His wounds have already brought all our healing; all our peace really comes from His punishment on our behalf. What more can He do to show us compassion? What kind of justice do we really want?
That thing I don't want to do, the pain I don't want to feel, the thoughts I don't want to think and all the complaints I want to be sure are heard - they all can *disappear* when I acknowledge that Jesus is my place of perfect peace.
I am His first thought, so to speak; and this God, this Immanuel always with us, is present in every place.
What I really need to know is that drudgery is a place for glory to shine,
pain is a place for me to learn compassion, and
no time is ever wasted when I'm with the God who is with me.
(Sunday school was a tremendous blessing, by the way - just so God could prove His point.)