Laura, quit your whining…
When I was a kid I had a coach in highschool who was also one of my parent’s best friends. In addition, their family lived a block away from mine and so his kids always played with my brother and me. Their daughter was one of my best friends and we had lots of fun playing together. She was a few years younger than me, but since we went to a Christian school together we ended up on the same basketball team. Let’s just say that during the season the two of them butted heads a bit and every now and then you’d hear him shout to her “Laar-ra, quit your whining…” in a very Wisconsin accent.
You must be wondering why in the world I am telling you about this. Well, in our family that little phrase has come to be the phrase we say to each other whenever we catch the other one whining. And I’ve been hearing it from God lately. And so with that comes the challenge for April.
This April I am giving up complaining. There are so many aspects to complaining. For me I am going to focus on these three types of complaining… verbal complaining, mental complaining and physical complaining. First of all I am going to focus on Ephesians 4:29 -Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. My mouth is going to be used to bless and not to curse…because that is what complaining is. If you are speaking in a foul way about others you are cursing them. If you are speaking in a dirty way about something you have or don’t have then you are cursing the gifts God has given you.
Sometimes I manage to keep my mouth shut, but my mind does the job just to me or just to God. My mind gripes and stews and holds on to things and creates mountain out of mole hills. This is a deadly practice. How many people create ulcers in their bodies or suffer bouts of depression and fatigue? I’m not saying this is always the cause, but I think sometimes the simple act of internal complaining can have a huge impact. I’m guessing this may end up being the most difficult for me.
And then there are those times when I start stewing on the inside and follow it up with actions on the outside. Doors slammed. People rejected. The coat of coldness gets worn and I become unapproachable or act out violently even.
I think complaining is one of those seemingly small things that is really just a grain of poison. One grain can kill. I want to bring life to all I do. It’s time to eliminate some poison from my life.
Here’s my game plan.
#1 -Stop complaining…in every area of my life by recognizing that when I complain I am looking through my eyes instead of seeing the way God has made for me to see.
#2 -Start seeing through His eyes and His vision by recognizing all the gifts I have been given. This is the count-your-blessings stuff.
#3 -Counter-act on the complaining by lifting up thanksgiving. Let’s face it. No challenge would be worthwhile if it was totally possible to accomplish right away. I already know that I am going to slip up and complain at times. My goal is to recognize that I have or am complaining and stop and start praising or giving thanksgiving about the issue or person. Of course, there are also going to be times that I just can’t be thankful for that thing or person in that moment. At these points I am going to focus on God and began to praise Him. I believe this is what is really going to help me “see the light”.
I started reading a book this week called “Wives of the Signers”. It is about the wives of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. (Fantastic book so far.) One of the things it mentions is how these women did what they had to do without complaining. They did not pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, but give up all that is what they did. So many of them had to run from their burning homes with what they could carry and hide out and even died from exposure or lost children to it. And yet these women were passionate about what they did because they believed in the freedom they were gaining for posterity. We are that posterity. What are we leaving to our posterity? Are we raising children in a house filled with complaining and strife? Are we creating an atmosphere in our home that stinks? Do we teach our kids that when someone “does us wrong” we should gripe and complain about them? Do we teach our children to appreciate the things we have and value them or do we teach them that dissatisfaction with what we have and getting more brings happiness?
I just can’t understand how the practice of tearing down people, things and our situations is an acceptable practice. Since when did complaining about our spouses, children, relatives, homes, cars, food, clothes and time become the way to do things? What does it profit us? Are we happier? Do we live more contentedly? Do we see things more clearly? Are the attitudes of those around us more pleasant because we lashed out about something? Do our children appreciate the sacrifices we make for them more when we complain about how difficult our lives are…or how we are so tired because we were up comforting them all night? Does our spouse feel loved and appreciated when they come home from working hard all day when we complain about how they never help us clean or cook dinner or keep an eye on the kids for just 5 minutes so we can use the bathroom by ourselves? I say no. When we do all those things we open the can of poison in our homes. It may just be a slow leak, but I must remind you again that it is deadly. It will kill, happiness, contentment, relationships and atmosphere.
I believe it is time to count it all joy. James 1:2-4 -Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
Back to my game plan.
#4 -Take the focus off of my selfish self. Start to see others around me. What do they need? How can we support them? How can we bring out the best in what I have and who I spend time with? How can I encourage those around me?
#5 -Spend time loving on myself. Sounds like a contradiction to #4, but it isn’t. What I’m talking about here is not complaining about myself and where I fall short, but rather if I don’t like something about myself to spend time changing the things I can and understanding the things I can’t. When I appreciate who God has made me and live out as His daughter I will make decisions and act on all that He has enabled me to be.
Maybe you are thinking, boy, I’d love to join Jessica in this month’s challenge, but I think it sounds a little overwhelming. If that’s you, can I challenge you to pick just one thing or one person that drives you nuts and you find yourself constantly complaining about. Perhaps it’s your tiny kitchen or the dog or your father-in-law. Whatever IT is, decide to make a change about it. Decide to stop complaining. Decide to find what you can be thankful for about it. And overall, give yourself grace when you don’t.
John 3:17 -For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. I ask you to let His saving power work in you and see the difference. Giving up complaining is not something that can be done all by yourself. It can be done through Him though. Spend 5 minutes a day asking Him for strength and wisdom on how to start with a fresh view and run with it.
As always, I would love to pray with you if you have any concerns or want help. Just email me thesavingmom(at)gmail.com. Hope you join me this month.