To Complain or Not To Complain? | Excellence Over Mediocrity V

“I hope there are days when your coffee tastes like magic, your playlist makes you dance, strangers make you smile, and the night sky touches your soul. I hope there are days when you fall in love with being alive.” | Brooke Hampton

Summer 2019 completely revolutionized my thinking in two ways as I learned once again, to choose excellence over mediocrity.

First, the beach.

I’ve never been a big fan of the beach. Too many people. Too much wet. An astonishing lack of clothing. Sand. Sand everywhere. In your clothes. In your belongings. Heat. Heat galore.

Second, Summer in general.

I’ve never been a big fan of Summer in general. Bugs everywhere. Did I mention the heat? Good ‘ol north-eastern humidity. And, once again, an astonishing lack of clothing. I don’t mean to be funny at all but it just seems like the minute the temperature climbs an inch above seventy, every mother’s son and daughter forgets what clothing is.

But as Summer 2019 rolled around, I realized that pretty much every year prior, without fail, I complained my way through Summer; impatiently waiting for it to end so my favourite season of all could at last arrive. I complained about the heat, the insects, the increased difficulty of finding modest clothing, the general discomfort…my general discomfort…the heat. I couldn’t see the Beauty in Summer at all. I didn’t try very hard to do so and just suffered my way through until late September mercifully arrived.

Complaining’s a sin, lovely humans.

Jesus Christ, through His apostle, Paul, commands us to “do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run or laboured in vain.” | Philippians 2:14-16

Mmkay so I know there’s loads packed in there but I’d like to try and unravel it a bit, with the Most High’s help. When you re-read those verses, you realize that a whole lot rests on whether or not you and I complain. We’re risking our reputation as Children of the King. Eyes watch our every movement; the eyes of our fellow humans and the eye of the Most High Himself. Whenever we complain, we show ourselves to be no different than worldlings.

Complaining runs rampant through our world. Office-mates complain to one another about their bosses. Students complain about homework, about their teachers or professors. Husbands complain about their wives. Wives complain about their husbands. Children complain about their parents. Parents complain about their children. Neighbours complain about and to one another. Strangers in the grocery store complain to one another about prices, the new renovations, you name it. We complain to ourselves about things in our lives we wish were different, about hurts dealt to us by others. We complain so easily that it’s almost as natural as drinking water.

But that’s choosing mediocrity over excellence. It’s easy to complain. It’s harder to keep your mouth shut when you have nothing edifying to say. I’m still learning this so please don’t think I’m speaking from a place of “having arrived”. I still complain about the heat sometimes but now I’m noticing when I do, asking the Most High for forgiveness, and then, by His grace, complaining about Summer less than I used to.

The Most High, through Paul, calls us to a higher standard, to excellence itself. Why? Because our profession is at stake. Let that sink in, lovely humans. Our profession is at stake. We’re supposed to shine as lights in this crooked and perverse generation but how can we shine when we’re behaving just as crookedly and perversely?

Another thing I realized as Summer 2019 rolled around was that the Seasons weren’t arbitrary. I mean, I knew that before, yes, but I really internalized it last year. God Almighty created each Season and since He is a God of order and not confusion (I Corinthians 14:33), He created them each for a purpose. So every Season holds Beauty; not just the ones I love.

That really hit me and I suddenly grew ashamed of my previous sinful complaining. I was really complaining against the CreatorKing for making Summer. I was complaining against His world-design, setting myself up as if I knew better than He.

So I prayed and asked Him to help me find the Beauty in Summer. To bravely endure the heat with Courage and look for occasions of Joy. And the High King answered as only He can. He made Summer 2019 the best Summer I’ve had in a long time.

I went to the beach not once, but twice. I know, that may not seem at all like a big deal to you beach-lovers haha but for me, that was like scaling Mt. Everest and coming back alive to tell the tale.

I adventured through the Summer with what I’ve come to call The Crew: a group of lovely humans I’m honoured to call my friends. We spontaneously planned several trips over those three months: a few to the beach, one to Six Flags, one to PA, and one where some PA friends came to NJ. It.was.grand. And I miss those days fiercely. The people I spent my Summer with made it a thousand times better than I could have ever imagined.

Several of us stayed at a friend’s beach house for a few days and had grand Adventures. We rushed the beach in the dead of night during a lightning storm (it wasn’t severe, stay calm everyone haha) and felt the unsettling eeriness of standing on the shoreline, listening to the waves crash against the sand, and looking out into the darkness. It’s incredibly unsettling, lovely humans, and I recommend you try it if you get a chance and it doesn’t freak you out too much 🙂 I remember standing there, peering out into the darkness, knowing the ocean was out there, hearing it, but not being able to see it. We ran to the edge and dipped our feet in the water but then quickly ran back because it was just too eerie.

The spontaneous beach trips taught me just how small it is to be a human. We’re so tiny and petty, as Thor so aptly said 🙂 We complain about pretty much everything that doesn’t go our way. We complain when the line is just a bit too long. We complain when someone is driving the speed limit but we’re going to be late due to our poor time management skills and so we want the law-abiding driver in front of us to break the law so we can also then break the law and get to where we need to be. We complain about so much that’s not worth complaining over. So much so that a war veteran who returned to American soil after fighting in the Iraqi War said he felt so out-of-place coming back to civilian life…why? Because at the mall, people were complaining about the long-ish line and all he could think about was how he had just been fighting for his life on the other side of the world. Fighting for his life and fighting for these same humans who couldn’t see past their own trivial inconveniences.

That’s mediocrity. That’s living wrapped up in your own affairs.

We’re petty but we’re also tiny. The ocean taught me that. Its immensity and grandeur render us powerless. One little rogue current and we’re lost beneath the waves forever. It pointed me back to the Creator Himself. If the ocean is that awe-inducing, how much more the God Who spoke it into existence? How much more does He deserve our humility and praise and life-long devotion?

Summer 2019 taught me to strive for excellence in a world of mediocrity. The Most High brought The Crew together just when we needed each other, though we didn’t know it until afterward. We laughed, sang, adventured, got sunburned, watched movies, got caught in a rainstorm…twice, played lots of Dutch Blitz, teased one another, stayed up late chatting, had several soul-talks, traipsed through The City in ninety-degree heat, drank loads of coffee, made new friends, were incredibly awkward, and survived it all to tell the tale.

I discovered that Summer isn’t half as bad as I thought. The sunsets are smashing. The green and golden afternoon, evening haze is too heart-wrenching for words. The starry nights are clear. And Cold-Brew coffee is a stellar way to stay cool.

The quotation I put at the top sums up Summer 2019 for me so I’ll just put here again at the end:

“I hope there are days when your coffee tastes like magic, your playlist makes you dance, strangers make you smile, and the night sky touches your soul. I hope there are days when you fall in love with being alive.” | Brooke Hampton

I hope you have these days, lovely humans. I hope you have them even now, in April 2020 when everything is confusion and uncertainty. I hope you choose excellence over mediocrity and you remember what it means to come alive, to burn with passion, and to live every moment in the service of the High King. He is on His throne and all is indeed well 🙂

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This was the beach we rushed in the dead of night. Or was it? I can’t even remember at this point haha It was one of the two beaches where lovely shenanigans were had by lovely humans ❤

| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines ❤ |

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