Quitting the complaining committee
Obnoxiously loud sighs and “ughs” filled the hallway as my friends and I trudged to our next class. It was only 8:30 in the morning and we had already effortlessly produced a record-breaking number of complaints about school, the weather, people, and school again.
This was a daily ritual. I embraced complaining because it seemed like an easy way of connecting with others, since common grievances were easy to find. But this practice took a toll on my mental well-being and amplified the stress I felt about my life.
One day my mom heard me complaining and asked if I had anything positive going on. Her question surprised me—and also made me think of this line from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (p. vii). I realized that my contribution to my friend group’s “complaining committee” was actually undermining my trust in God to bless my life. I was relying on complaints and drama to sustain me and help me make connections, rather than understanding that God leads and sustains me.
I embraced complaining because it seemed like an easy way of connecting with others
This realization also reminded me of a passage from the Bible that I’d been studying in Christian Science Sunday School. It’s something Jesus said to his followers: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock” (Matthew 7:24, 25, New Revised Standard Version). My habit of focusing on negativity was a foundation of sand—unstable. This meant that when I faced a problem, my experience reflected the foundation I’d built, and I was flooded with doubt, anxiety, and a feeling of being out of control. But this passage spoke to me, because it helped me see that grounding myself in God would give me a strong foundation to rely on when I’m faced with a “storm.” And then my conversations, thoughts, tasks, and relationships would reflect what I know to be true about God, who is good.
In reality, the “comfort” I found in complaining wasn’t really comfort at all, and so it needed to be replaced by something that was actually substantial: trust in God and the comfort that comes from that. I needed to see my days through the lens of Love and help my friends see the value in recognizing all the good in our lives.
The next day, I piloted my friend group into the uncharted territory of gratitude. I challenged our pessimistic habits, and we all discovered there were opportunities to acknowledge good qualities in our peers, comment on the things we were looking forward to learning, and to look at our challenges more optimistically. Instead of talking about impending deadlines or trivial gossip, we wholeheartedly embraced gratitude. We were acknowledging the good in our lives, and we were able to find joy in our days. It eased the weight of our typical problems and workload. By changing our perspective, we were recognizing and expressing God—and feeling His love and care.
Instead of talking about impending deadlines or trivial gossip, we wholeheartedly embraced gratitude.
I’ve always loved Mrs. Eddy’s thoughtful question: “Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more” (Science and Health, p. 3). It not only reminds me to express gratitude for the good in my life, but it’s also a promise that God meets all of our needs. Quitting the complaining helped all of us see this more clearly, and gratitude made God’s blessings in our lives so much more tangible.
This experience showed me how fulfilling it is to turn to God and recognize the good in my life. It also taught me the importance of catching—and getting rid of—habits that don’t benefit my spiritual growth. I’m so much happier now. I encourage you to see how giving gratitude can also change your life!