Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Novena to St. Francis de Sales, Day Four: Keeping Away from Namby Pamby Land

Complain as little as possible about the wrongs you suffer. Undoubtedly a person who complains commits a sin by doing so, since self-love always feels that injuries are worse than they really are. Above all, do not complain to irascible or fault-finding persons. If there is just occasion for complaining to someone either to correct an offense or restore your peace of mind, do so to those who are even-tempered and really love God. Instead of calming your mind the others will stir up worse difficulties and in place of pulling out the thorn that is hurting you they will drive it deeper into your foot.
- Introduction to the Devout Life
I know a woman, and I am sure you know her too, who has received the "short end of the stick", so to speak. Just about every horrid and revolting disease has gripped her body at one point or another. She wears her infirmity like a badge of honor, and speaks of it at every chance. She's a great friend to those looking to minimize their suffering. If you tell her you have a cold, she'll reply, "Oh, yeah, I thought I did, too, but the doctor said he's never seen a worse case of pneumonia his entire career." If you mention that your blood pressure has been up, she'll tell you about the stroke she nearly suffered from her malignant hypertension. Need your gall bladder out? She had hers out, and got a staph infection and was in the ICU for six weeks. Nearly died. Worst case the doctor's ever seen. Amazingly, she doesn't look all that sickly…

While we all know someone like that (male or female), we do a fair bit of complaining ourselves…I know personally that I can keep up with the best of them. About a week ago I was feeling very sorry for myself and plopped down in the hospital administration office. "Having a bad day?" the administrative assistant asked, looking concerned. "Yep. I am really frustrated. I am doing the best I can, but it is hard being a boss. I am really tired of being hated by everyone." I put on my most pathetic face. She didn't miss a beat: "Maybe we should chug on over to Namby Pamby Land where maybe we can find some self-confidence for you, you jack wagon!" Point well taken.

Complaining comes easily for so many of us. For some, it is a cultural thing; for others, well, it's just whining. The bottom line is that every one of us is going to suffer. Sometimes it will be our health; other times broken relationships; sometimes we are just, in the words of a famous "puddy tat", a victim of "thircumthtanthe". There are times when it is helpful to raise our voices in our suffering to those who will help us to grow in them. Other times, it's better to just be silent.

"I can't believe the way she just spoke to me," I complained to a friend after a reprimand (well deserved, in retrospect) from my superior. My pride was bruised, and I needed someone to validate my anger and embarrassment. I picked the right person. By the time we finished our conversation I was convinced that my aggressor was not only out of line, but also a big jerk undeserving of respect. Together we diagnosed my superior's thoughts, intentions, childhood history, etc. Despite our commiseration, we were just plain wrong. I deserved a reprimand, my superior was acting out of authority and concern, and I made things worse. My co-conspirator and I were class-A "jack wagons". It would have been better if I had just been quiet.

St. Francis de Sales knew that true devotion has no room for meaningless complaints and whining. As we continue our novena let us ask him to intercede that in those times when a silent tongue is the best course of action we may display restraint and tact. If we need comfort and strength may the Holy Spirit bless us with the ability to discern those best equipped to help us grow in our suffering…and keep us out of Namby Pamby Land. Amen!


  1. This is a very honest post. :) I resemble it. LOL

  2. Love this post. It's hard to stay out of Namby Pamby Land! Maybe practicing silence more often would help. Like Kathleen, I resemble your post.

  3. Whilst I make light of was a bit embarassing at the moment, but a perfect slap to the ego. I think silence is the key; now if I just could keep my pie hole shut!


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