Maya Angelou has a chapter in her book Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now on the subject of complaining. Angelou says that when “whiners” would come into her grandmother’s store in Arkansas, she would go through a routine that would begin by quietly beckoning Maya to come closer. Then she would bait the “whiner” customer with “How are you doing today, Brother Thomas?” As the complaining gushed forth she would nod or make eye contact with her granddaughter to make sure Maya heard all that was being said.
As soon as the “whiner” left, her grandmother would ask Maya to stand in front of her.
And then she would say the same thing she had said at least a thousand times, it seemed to me. ‘Sister, did you hear what Brother So-and-So or Sister-Much-to-Do complained about? You heard that!’ And I would nod. Mamma would continue, ‘Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake up again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not …. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.’
I’m going to remember those words the next time I find myself grumbling.
Thanksgiving is our annual reminder of what the bible encourages us to do daily. Hourly. Even moment by moment. To God and to each other. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
It was Fred Craddock who said, “The final work of grace in the human heart is to make us gracious.” May it be so. See you in church – a great place to exercise a grateful heart.