When my oldest son was younger, like many young children, he whined and cried 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.”
Recently, God has been gently pointing out all the “cryning” I have been doing. When life is uncertain the human thing to do is grumble, complain, whine, or cry. The “in-between” places in life are uncomfortable. While the Israelites were “in-between” in the wilderness they grumbled and complained about God’s miraculous provision. Sadly, I do the same thing.
The past couple of years have been overflowing with change. Two of my children have gotten married. My youngest son left for college, making my husband and me empty nesters. We started a second business and we are in the process of downsizing. It has made for a whirlwind of chaotic activity. Not everything has gone my way! And I have done some complaining and “cryning.”
Rhonda Britten makes a powerful statement in her book, Fearless Living, about complaining. She suggests that when we complain we are advertising our fears.That is a powerful statement! Our fears make us feel vulnerable and, without realizing it, when we complain we actually draw attention to them.
What’s the big deal about complaining?
- It keeps you focused on the wrong thing. It keeps you stuck on the problem rather than the solution. It keeps you from being proactive and accepting what you can’t change. And it keeps you from noticing all the good things that are in your life.
- It becomes a habit. Rather than seeing opportunities to learn, grow or experience God in a fresh way, you become a victim.
- It is unpleasant to be around. You avoid people who perpetually complain. Their negativity is contagious. It brings you down!
How do you fight the temptation to complain?
1. Be aware
Take the time to notice what you are complaining about or are tempted to complain about. Let that inclination work for you, instead of against you. What fear is it revealing? More often than not it is 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
Enlist one or two people with whom you can share your feelings with and will help you think through the situation so that you can see the truth. Even more importantly, take those concerns to God. He is 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.
3. Be grateful
Make it your habit to daily review the things that you have to be grateful for. Write them down! Dwell on them. Take the time to notice all the good things that God is up to in your life. When your mind is set on these things you are able to trust God in a greater way.
4. Slow down and reframe
James 1:9 urges us to be “slow to speak.” Too often complaints come spilling out before we have the chance to think things through. Take the time to reframe and see the challenge that is hiding in your complaint. How is it daring you to grow? How can you reframe your complaint and ask for what you want rather than taking the easy way out and complain?
My complaints have revealed to me that I don’t think God really knows all I need to get done. It all feels impossible. And yet, impossible is where He is at His best. My complaining has exposed my need to surrender to His will once again.
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.
Are you ready to put an end to the complaining? Let’s actively seek to make those changes together! What is your complaining revealing to you?