Building on the very helpful comment from Dave Bookless about the significant and key difference between grumbling and righteous complaint, Stephen Cherry advocates that we should listen to the grumble but outwork it in a way that is not a grumble through protest, penitence and petition. Cherry states helpfully.
“Personal discontent often stems from a lack of both humility and hope. But it might sometimes be based on genuine humility and human solidarity. Whilst it is wise to minimise, if not eradicate, our grumbling and complaining, it is sometimes necessary and good, to give voice to the insight or perception behind the grumble in a different way.”
Protest: There are times where we feel deeply passionate about an injustice or sadness that requires and inspires us to legitimately protest and channel our discontent in this way. Passionate protest can also be informed, sacrificial and a place where we stand up and make a difference. Campaigning is a vital part of protest. I was at a very good event yesterday looking at the role of volunteering in bringing about development impact. The Panel for the debate all agreed that protesting and campaigning is key to bringing about change and impact. They reminded us that the Jubilee 2000 campaign was one great example of how discontent lead to protest and campaigning that lead to real change and impact.
Penitence: This may seem ‘heavy’ or odd, especially as the word is quite outdated and hard to grasp. However when we ‘grumble’ we tend to distance ourselves from a problem or issue, but if we are penitent we take some responsibility for the circumstance we are in or see before us. Cherry uses the example of the environmental and ecological crisis globally to show that we all have a collective responsibility and that is both in action and reflection, but taking ownership in some form is key.
Petition: To seek and ask God for what we want or need. Genuine, honest prayer. Its more important that we are honesty and praying with integrity than for our prayers to be well formulated and articulated.
Being honest, this week has been hard, as I have definitely found it hard not to grumble at times. I am well known for being generally quite positive and optimistic, which is encouraging…. but I’m very aware that this is not always my natural default, and aware that if it was it would be perhaps naive, unhelpful and unrealistic to always sustain a positive outlook.
I am thankful and humbled that I know many family, friends and colleagues who have taught me and helped me over the years to complain and grumble less but also be real and honest and to not be afraid to embrace passionate, humble protest, penitence and petition.
I know that I will grumble a great deal but am committed to reducing it in my life and to instead channel both my enthusiasm and also discontent in helpful and honest ways.