These first two verbs are the bane of happy living. They are so easy a path that some could not converse without them. And it’s no wonder with our flesh urging us on for self-promotion and for ease and comfort that we disdain anyone that blocks our goal or makes us feel “put out.”

For spouses and family members it is a quite easy thing to complain and judge by calling it another name, like being honest, or correcting in love. But I believe in the practice of examining a truth by exercising it to the extremes, and to see where it leads. If I were to live my entire life without complaining or judging, it seems that it would be one happy life and would enhance the joy of those around.

“But how could a parent raise a child without correcting” you say. First I would respond that the parent side of the parent-child relationship is not at all what this debate is about, for parents complaining and judging their young children could certainly be a problem, and may even be related to the same root causes, but here I stay in realm of peer relationships – and older children certainly would qualify. Second, I would reply that almost all of parental training is by example, not verbal.

And in my positive extreme, I could see that a spouse might not ever know that they were offending unless they were told. If she is standing on my foot, perhaps I should let her know. If it hurt me for her to stand on my foot, I might wince, and it would be evident to her that something was amiss. It is then likely that she would ask, and I could reply in love without it qualifying as a complaint. So the offense may surface due to the signs of discomfort. But still there is a slippery slope between genuine wincing and going around all day sighing as if one was suffering a great deal because of the hardships foisted upon them by his spouse.

The opposites of our pain are “gratitude and affirmation.” Wow, what a difference. One could hardly go wrong with these two. Ideas and lifestyle habits that we let rise like a hot-air balloon do not need us to shoot them down; rather we should blow and lift them to encourage, for perhaps they will fly after all, and by our encouragement, more ideas and new habits will come. If not, they will fall due to gravity on their own, and we can console and encourage the next design.

Usually, the good things come by hard work, and the deleterious happens naturally. Indeed, it is easy to react with complaint and judgmental criticism, but thinking outside of ones self to encourage another with a well-timed compliment takes hard work of observation. The critical comments come naturally for everyone that we need not “worry” about the danger of the extreme – eliminating them all. For it would be “preaching to the choir” to tell a wife that she needs to admonish her husband, indeed a teaching that is not usually needed. But respect and love should be the working goal of us all and the gratitude of true observation, it’s motivation.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. Apostle Paul, Philippians 2:14

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