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I Can’t Complain | Provoketive Magazine
20 Nov 2011

The Author

I am an essayist, poet and photographer. I try to be a voice against injustice, as I perceive it. I am forgiven & grateful. I am an alcoholic, sober since July 2008 by the grace of God. I am a mother of four. I write about my own faith & (dis)belief, for voiceless people, against injustice and abuse of power, and sometimes politics. And threaded through my experiences is the fact that I am a mother and a woman. I am always mindful of Abraham Lincoln's words: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.”


I Can’t Complain

My cup is always half empty.  At least, without Jesus it would be.  Even with the Holy Spirit active it is an effort to be positive.  And I try anything to change this about myself. I have even gone so far as to wear a rubber band on my wrist, switching it to the other arm each time I catch myself verbalizing something critical or negative. I could start a self-help group: Hi I’m Melody.  I am a negative, cynical, gloomy, pessimistic person!

The flip side of that is the clarity with which I see the world.  I think my propensity to see injustice, what’s broken and “not working”, can be a good thing because it also moves me, causing me to speak out, write, and sometimes even shout about the injustice and pain people suffer!  Nevertheless, I am not known for my positivity and I don’t like that about myself.

I consider it great progress that when I am asked the perennial question: “How are you?” I now (mostly) answer with “I can’t complain.”  And then go ahead and do not complain!  This practice began as a difficult task that I was committed to doing and over time it has become a way of life.  I began to choose that way of thinking, after experiencing major depression when I learned how much I have to be grateful about.

I choose not to complain.

Good and bad, it happens.

Some might say “shit happens” right?  But are we the type of people to always point that out?  Or are we the type of person that can bring something positive, or life affirming, into a really negative world?

Some people just exude joy and pleasure with life.  It used to be they really bugged me (still do sometimes) because I couldn’t imagine it being authentic.  But I have found if you can embrace someone in their joy, perhaps just a little will rub off on you.

Even in the midst of the hell of depression I am grateful.  God gives us this one life and we are charged to sort it out.   He guides us, truly he does, but much of life is us sifting through the good and the bad.

Life is choices.

George Thomas wrote this beautiful prayer — may it be ours:

“Help us, Lord, to get in tune with the rhythm that makes for life.  Slow us down and help us see that we are put in charge of our lives with your help.  We keep moving, even though we know that we are made to center down, as well as to be actively engaged in the business of life.  We compete for things and make those things more important than they ought to be.  We eat what we ought not to eat.  We neglect and misuse our bodies.  We fail to discipline our minds and to be still and know that thou art God and that we are the temple of the Most HighYes, we often complain about our misfortunes and our hard luck, when at times it is we who are guilty of disregard.  Help us to know that we can be broken by life only if we first allow the victory of evil over our spirits.  May our hope and strength and faith be grounded in you.”

By recognizing and living our blessings, we are blessed.  By enjoying positive people we just may become one.

Change your focus, yes but God forbid we all become Precious Moments Christ followers.  No, simply commit to being a person who is grateful for each precious moment of their life.

It really is utterly breathtaking — life’s blessings.  I can’t complain.

O God, Slow Us Down (1983) by George Thomas found in Conversations with God, Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, James Melvin Washington.

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