It’s hard to fathom, but it won’t be long before my first born will be 30. He’s now the proud father of two. When he was much younger, he was prone to whining and crying when things didn’t go his way. He heard the phrases “stop whining” and “stop crying” so often that he would reply with, “I am not cryning.”
Now I just smile when his son is “cryning.”
If I am honest, I do my own “cryning.” It involves less falling on the floor and fewer tears, but when life doesn’t go my way, I grumble and complain. The “in-between” places in life are uncomfortable. And I struggle when my idea of what’s best for me personally or professionally is different from what God has in mind.
I’m guessing that the Israelites get what I’m feeling! They experienced the “in-between” in the wilderness for a whopping 40 years! And they grumbled and complained in spite of God’s miraculous daily provision. They knew for certain that their old life back in Egypt was much better, never mind they were slaves! (Numbers 11-14) Sadly, I do the same thing.
Life is not static. It wasn’t for the Israelites and it isn’t for me either! The past few years are proof of that. They have overflowed with change. My three children met and married the loves of their lives; three amazing additions to our family. That means that my husband and I are officially empty nesters.
We’ve downsized, moved to a brand new city, become grandparents (it’s the best!), and started another business. I faced Lyme disease and know what a blessing health is more than ever! All in all, quite a whirlwind of activity!
And…not everything has gone my way! I have done some complaining and “cryning” along the way. Funny how you can complain even when you are abundantly cared for!
Did you know that complaining is actually advertising your fears? If I thought about it that way, I know I would make a greater effort to keep such thoughts to myself. Why in the world would I want to publicize my fears?
Fears make you feel vulnerable. Without realizing it, when you complain you are actually drawing attention to your fears. That’s like hollering in your underwear! Keep that in mind the next time you go off on a rant or are the recipient of an ear full from someone else.
What’s the big deal about complaining? It hinders you personally and professionally because complaining…
1. Fouls Up Your Focus!
Yep! It keeps you focused on the wrong things; the problems rather than the solutions. It makes you blind to possibility. Rather than being proactive, you become stuck and a victim. And complaining prevents you from noticing all the good stuff in your life.
2. Becomes a Habit
Anything you do repeatedly is a habit! It’s easy to slip into the complaining habit and it’s not quite so easy to step out. Start taking action. Ask for what you need. Get creative and explore the possibilities. If you keep practicing your complaining habit you will miss the chance to stretch, learn, grow, and experience God in life giving ways.
3. Makes You THAT Person
Let’s face it: you avoid people who perpetually complain. Not only is it unpleasant to be around, that kind of negativity is wildly contagious. Nobody wants to catch that bug! Not only does it drag you down, it drags everyone around you down.
How do you fight the temptation to complain?
1. Pay Attention
Tune in and notice when you’re complaining and what you’re complaining about. Even if you successfully keep your complaints to yourself and don’t verbalize them, notice. What fears are being revealed? How is your Fear Monster driving your complaints?
Perhaps you are wrestling with the same fear the Israelites wrestled with: that God did not love them and would not meet their needs. That He would not make up for their lack and that He had forgotten about the things He had promised them.
2. Vent Constructively
You need people in your life that you can freely share your feelings with and who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. Who are the trusted people in your life who ask insightful questions and enable you to see other perspectives?
Even more importantly, take those concerns to God. He’s already aware of your intimate struggles, and He longs for you to share them with Him. I Peter 5: 6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
Yes, He wants you to admit you need His help. He knows that the burdens of life are too big for you. He wants you to be reminded of the extravagance of His love and the immensity of His power. And that He is working on your behalf for your good despite how your circumstances might feel.
That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:28 (MSG)
3. Express Gratitude
Make it your habit to share with others what you are grateful for. Weave it into your conversations. Make it a habit.
And while you are adding new habits, make time daily to review the things that you are grateful for. Write them down! Dwell on them. Notice all the good things that God is up to in your life. When your mind is set on all you are grateful for, it changes the trajectory of life.
4. Slow Down
I’ve noticed that the more frantic people are, the more they tend to complain. Maybe such thoughts spill out as a result of not taking the time to process their thoughts or be proactive. Perhaps it is a symptom of an overwhelmed life in need of simplifying. Maybe it’s hard to see the good stuff when you are speeding through life! Whatever the reason, slowing down is good! James 1:19 urges us to be “slow to speak.”
Investigate your complaints. Put them in a brand new “frame.” How is it daring you to grow? What do you really need? How can you ask for what you want? What is God up to?
My complaints have shown me that I don’t think God will fulfill my desires. Too often it feels impossible. And yet, impossible is where He is at His best. My complaining has exposed my doubts that He loves me and is trustworthy.
I am casting my burden on Him, dwelling on all the ways He is faithful to me, and allowing Him to fill in the gap where I need to grow to meet the challenges of today.
What’s your complaining revealing to you?
NOTE: This post that was originally posted on 2/18/2014. It’s been updated & revised! May it motivate you to minimize your complaining!