Sometimes the Best Lessons are Learned at Panera | Donna Jones

I feel my mood shift. Just a few moments ago all was well with my soul. But now…somehow life seems heavier. More negative. Nothing earth shattering has taken place in the last half hour. In fact, I’m sitting at Panera trying to grab a quick bite while I work. But it’s hard.

At the table next to me sits a woman whose conversation dampens my spirit with every passing minute.

She looks perfectly normal. Which, honestly, is a little disheartening (I kind of wish life drainers had some sort of marker so the rest of humanity could steer clear).

I’m trying really hard not to eavesdrop. But she’s kind of loud. After listening to bits and pieces of her conversation, I know she’s a mom of a seventh grade daughter. She drives carpool but won’t pick up one little gal anymore because she doesn’t like her. She runs, sometimes with other moms and daughters. But she doesn’t really like the other moms. She thinks her sister-in-law is totally losing it (her words). And she feels obligated to go through with weekend plans her kids have but she’s not happy about it.

Now’s she complaining about one of her kid’s coaches.

Here’s the scary part: she has no idea how negative and critical she is.

The thing about negativity is that it bleeds from one area of life into another until your whole world is colored in dismal gray. When you live this way long enough it starts to seem normal.  The lens of your heart adjusts to the darkness kind of like the way the lens of your eye adjusts to a dark movie theatre.  Reality becomes skewed.

You become a barren desert of disgruntled-ness.

Part of me wants to shake her; to wake her out of the murky fog that’s left her critical of others and complaint-driven to the point of complacency.  The other half of me sits quietly as I turn my attention away from her and onto myself.

So I ask myself the hard questions. How often do I complain?  Am I critical? Does discontent and disapproval permeate my perspective? Because it’s just not pretty.

More than that, it’s not Christ-like.

Phil 2:5 tells us “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”.  A few verses later we’re told how.

Do everything without complaining and arguing. (Phil 2:14)

Can you even imagine Jesus complaining about one of His disciples?  “You know that Peter, he really drives me crazy.”  “I can’t stand Judas. What a backstabbing jerk. He can’t be in my carpool anymore.”

Ridiculous to even consider, isn’t it?  But that’s exactly what the Bible means when it says “in your relationships have the same mindset as Christ.”

This is a game changer.

This is love.

This is Christianity in real life.

It’s easy to zip right past these words and allow them to fall on deaf ears.  But what if we let these words fall on us like rain instead? What if we soaked in the instruction so deeply that our relational and soul-ish drought–caused by our own complaints, comparison and criticism–were rinsed clean with hope and blessing and optimism?

What if we stopped complaining?

What if we stopped arguing over ridiculous stuff?

What if we blessed and encouraged more than we corrected and criticized?

Might our words then give life to those who hear us–even unsuspecting strangers sitting next to us at Panera?

So here’s the challenge:  for the next 24 hours let’s commit to follow God’s word and do everything without complaining.  Leave a comment and let me know how it goes, will you?

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