Sometimes, I can be a whining, complaining wimp. Often I can quickly point out the things that are not convenient or not up to par to what I think things need to be. I’ve been programmed — whether by difficult circumstances or choices of my own — to be able to point out clouds in the midst of sun.
And I’m good at it.
It’s sometimes amazing how I have to stop myself from discussing all the bad in the world and being a downer about how things are getting worse. I’m better, but still not where I know I need to be. On a recent trip I found myself complaining about having to leave in the midst of recording to catch a flight and travel half around the globe. All the planning it takes to do an international trip can be rough in the midst of late night recording sessions, family time, doing the interviews, and….SEE, I’M DOING IT RIGHT NOW:
As I landed to do two concerts in the U.K. I must say that the overwhelming love and excitement from the crowds caught me off guard. First Birmingham, then London, the attendance was in the thousands and I don’t have a new record out, so I was shocked that so many people came out to see me. So shocked and taken back that I became very emotional as the crowds began to sing my songs just at the drop of the first chord I played on the piano. In the midst of the people, I fell to my knees on stage and asked God to forgive me for such selfishness and complaining and how undeserving I was for these songs He’s allowed me to borrow from Him all of these years. The people came to celebrate The Christ with me and I almost missed it because of how much I had to rearrange for a trip, that ended up breaking me down to my knees.
Here it is:
1. Don’t beat yourself up if gratitude doesn’t flow from you like water. Responding to the Lord’s conviction [not condemnation] is a sign that the fire still burns within.
2. Practice, practice, practice.
It seems like human nature is wired to live in frustration that things don’t just easily fall in place. That inconvenience will never be convenient. So giving thanks is a muscle that you have to exercise. And that’s ok.
3. Remember, it could always be worse.
An artist friend of mine who has had some big mainstream records back in the nineties when sales were at their all time high, called me up one day and in our general back and forth catching up he asked me what was up next for me and I told him I was planning to be on the road for a few weeks. Again, full of complaining about how I had to work through kid schedules, wife schedules, etcetera, etcetera, he stopped me dead in my tracks and said something I try to remember when have one of my nagging parties… he said to me “Kirk, at least your phone is ringing…”
That pretty, planned-out picture in our brains, you know, the one we’ve been painting for years? Well, we have to keep that in a position so that we can adjust its colors whenever Gods sees necessary. Because that’s what messes us up.
T.V. shows are scripted to run as easily as they do. They have already rehearsed the set changes and the travel scenes and graduation shots of the kid walking across the stage in slow motion with the chariots of fire musical score playing in the background. They don’t show the late nights filling out student loans or the plays or the counseling sessions when a boy has broken your daughter’s heart. They only show the highlights. But you and I live in the valleys of inconvenience, adjustments and disappointments. And there is where the true classroom of learning to give thanks exists.
Complaining robs you of great memories and moments you’ll never get again. And I promise you, you and I DO NOT want to know how much worse it COULD BE. When you get a snap shot of how blessed you truly are in the midst of all the imperfection, it’ll make you drop to your knees on stage or at home and give thanks that the phone is still ringing.