Are you brag­ging? or com­plain­ing?

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - OPINION -

“Are you brag­ging or com­plain­ing?”

Granny, a neigh­bor lady, nearly al­ways re­sponded to my grous­ing, grum­bling that way. When I was a teen, I was usu­ally stopped short in a po­ten­tial com­plaint by her say­ing that. The phrase stuck with me over many more decades than I care to ad­mit and it serves me well to con­sider the pur­pose of my com­ments.

If it is brag­ging, then it is bet­ter left un­said.

If com­plain­ing, then only if de­signed to pro­vide a solution, should it be said.

In a tele­vi­sion show, “The Guns of Will Son­nett,” which aired in the late 1960s, Wal­ter Bren­nan of­ten said: “… and I’m bet­ter than both of ‘em — no brag, just fact.”

Ironic, isn’t it, what sticks with you?

Scrip­ture has much to say about brag­ging and com­plain­ing.

In Matthew 6:1-34, we are warned to do good (“prac­tice right­eous­ness”) pri­vately with­out seek­ing the praise of men. In Jeremiah 9:23, Proverbs 27:1-2, Jude 1:16, Proverbs 25:14, Gala­tians 6:14, James 4:16 we find coun­sel about boast­ing.

In Philip­i­ans 2:14, we are told “Do all things with­out grum­bling or ques­tion­ing.” (ESV)

In Eph­e­sians 4:29, we’re told: “Let no cor­rupt­ing talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for build­ing up, as fits the oc­ca­sion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)

What is the point?

It’s been said that un­less you’re a part of the prob­lem or the solution, stay out of it.

So­cial me­dia is ram­pant to­day. Com­plain­ing about it (some­thing of­ten done by peo­ple of my gen­er­a­tion) won’t erase it. It’s here. And, so­cial me­dia didn’t cre­ate the prob­lems we face, it just ex­poses it and makes it more vis­i­ble to more peo­ple.

Whereas we used to com­plain over the back fence to our neigh­bor or across the cof­fee ta­ble with our friends, now, peo­ple post com­plaints on so­cial me­dia and hun­dreds of their so-called “friends” see and re­post their com­plaints.

We are all prone to brag or com­plain, es­pe­cially when our mind, our heart is full of our­selves. But, we can learn and prac­tice sel­f­re­straint, self-dis­ci­pline and gov­ern our thoughts. We can re­ject un­kind, hate­ful, boast­ful thoughts think­ing more highly of our­selves and dis­parag­ingly of oth­ers. We can re­place those thoughts with hum­ble thoughts about our­selves and gen­er­ous thoughts of oth­ers.

It’s not easy.

But, in a gen­er­a­tion fix­ated on phys­i­cal fit­ness, we should re­al­ize that any­thing worth do­ing re­quires ef­fort. It isn’t easy to make your­self get up and walk, run, work out. Ex­er­cise doesn’t al­ways feel good and some­times re­sults in pain. But, you per­sist for the re­sults.

So, too, men­tal, emo­tional ex­er­cise is not easy, but def­i­nitely worth the ef­fort. It will ben­e­fit both the one learn­ing to gov­ern his or her thoughts and there­fore words as well as those who have been the re­cip­i­ents of those words and at­ti­tudes.

This sea­son of Christ­mas, let’s try to give the bless­ing of kind­ness to our­selves and to oth­ers and squelch the un­kind words that spring to mind when tempted to com­plain or crit­i­cize.

•••

Edi­tor’s note: An­nette Beard is the man­ag­ing edi­tor of The Times of North­east Ben­ton County, cho­sen the best small weekly news­pa­per in Arkansas for five years. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the writer. She can be reached at [email protected]

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