Episode 15: No ComplainingMar 27, 2023
To start this off I have an activity for you guys: if you’re not listening to this while driving or supervising tiny humans- close your eyes for a second. Try to quiet your mind. Picture your dream life. What do you really really want. What kind of spouse do you have- what are the most important things about that spouse. What kind of kids do you have? What kind of place do you live? Who is around you? A good friend or a few good friends? A community to be part of? What are some most important things in your dream life- if you could have absolutely anything?
Okay now, how close is your real life to those most important dream life things.? How many of those boxes are checked? I’m going to guess for a lot of you- several things are really pretty close. And mayge you just haven’t taken the time to realize that. Do you ever stop to think about how many things you really really want that are right in front of you? Like the things we think about all day are sometimes really unimportant and yet the super important things we sometimes blow right past and kind of take for granted. I like to take time to think about what I really really want.
There’s a saying that disappointment is unmet expectations. So I’m venturing to say if you never even set expectations, you’re more likely to be disappointed. I think that’s important in the long term but also in the short term. I even did this this past week with spring break- asked my husband- what do we want this week to look like? Let’s decide, and make it happen. Otherwise I was afraid we’d end up at the end of the week feeling like we didn’t make the most of it. But since we decided- we were committed to the things we wanted to do and the rest we wanted to have.
I think its almost dangerous to never think this way. Because. Either now you know what to be extremely grateful for – or you know the things that didn’t line up for you- and that’s exactly what you’re going to be praying for now. Now maybe you can start planning and taking some steps to change some things if they aren’t what you want. Pray, and do things to make some changes if part of your life isn’t what you want!
But I think not asking God for specific things sets you up for a life of longing and disappointment. Our culture drives us to more more more but what if that attitude robs us of contentment and causes us to forget to be so thankful for what we have? We don’t want to short-change God on thanking him for SO many amazing things He has done for us. Like when you do something nice for your own children you want them to say thank you. We need to do that for God. So today, take a minute and think about all the parts of your life that are JUST exactly what you want. Your answered prayers. Thank God for all of them!
Take time to rest in the contentment you can find in those things. One of the more well-known or most-suggested tips for reducing depression and anxiety is to have a gratitude journal. Just writing down things you are thankful for. Maybe try it if you haven’t yet! What do you have to lose? One of my friends told me once that she loves writing a list of her prayers with an open check box and loves to go back and check the box when it comes true and then it’s like a whole list of answered prayers.
And isn’t it sort of a glorified fear for moms that our kids are going to grow up and leave and we’ll be sitting here in an empty house with an empty heart? We aren’t receiving that. We are believing that God’s best is still to come, and we are always going to believe that. And I think one way to practice that is to be content and find joy and thankfulness at all times as much as possible. My husband and I tell each other this all the time. We say- remind me that I didn’t take this for granted. Remind me how much we loved our kids every day. And how we told our kids and each other and God how much we love this time. All the time. In every season. I hope that is something that everyone listening can implement. An attitude of thankfulness, a heart posture of contentment.
Of course we are still looking ahead and working for the future and all of that. But we are living in the moment with a grateful heart.
And I hope to still keep this part optimistic but I think worth mentioning along these lines is the subject of complaining.
Because, I feel like this gets glorified in our mom-culture. It is like a competition of who is more exhausted. And I think this is an easy way to drive a wedge in your marriage. Each spouse complaining about who is more tired or who is working harder. Let’s just call it what it is and stop complaining. If you’re doing that, it's complaining. I am not outside this conversation. I know I do it. My husband and I have decided to intentionally be careful not to though, but we still find ourselves tempted by it all the time.
I think one phrase in marriage to avoid driving this wedge is to literally tell your spouse- thank you for all you do for our family. I know your job is hard. Thanks for all you do for us.
No matter what their job is- in the home outside the home doesn’t matter, both spouses can say this to each other. That off-sets the wedge of complaining. Sometimes we complain because probably what we really want is someone to acknowledge we are doing something hard. Which, we don’t need that acknowledgement. But we know receiving it is nice. So maybe we can dish it out. Tell your spouse you’re thankful for their hard work. Even if they don’t tell you that enough, you start it. You start this new phrase and I can almost guarantee that they’ll say it back to you sometime, even if not right away.
But it’s not about what we are getting its just about giving it, it’s about being responsible for ourselves and we know we shouldn’t be complaining.
There are SO MANY bible verses instructing us against complaining.
Philippians 2:14 says do all things without grumbling.
James 5:9 says do not grumble against one another.
1 Peter 4:9 says show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Corinthians 10:10 says do not grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer…. I don’t want to have anything to do with the destroyer, so I’m definitely trying to align my words with the Lord and creator of the universe, and his son and perfect example, Jesus Christ.
We can’t control all of our circumstances but we can control how we respond and how we speak. If it is something you can control, take some steps to change it. If you can’t control it, try to picture giving it to God literally putting it in a box giving it to God and walking away. You can’t take it back and worry and complain about it anymore, because you literally gave it to God. It’s not yours anymore.
You know how God uses our children to TEACH us so much. One thing I’ve been thinking about and convicted of lately is teaching my kids- what someone else does, does not get to influence what you do. You’re in charge of you. If someone takes your toy- that is not a permission slip to hit them. If someone starts whining and acting selfish, that doesn’t mean you get to start whining and acting selfish. You know how kids do this? But. But she.. but he… nope. Your actions are not affected by someone else’s actions. What someone else does, does not influence what you do.
Isn’t that a word for the moms too?
Just because someone is moving slow and now you’re late does not mean you get to yell at your kids because you’re feeling stressed and rushed. Just because your boss is giving you an assignment you feel is unfair does not mean you get a free pass for a bad attitude and a half-hearted work ethic. My sister reminded me the other day of our mom cleaning the kitchen and telling her- we are to do everything as unto the Lord. I’m cleaning this kitchen and my heart is saying- I’m doing this for you Lord.
Doesn’t that change everything?
You are YOU. You are who God says you are. No one else’s action or lack of action or their words or lack of appreciation get to change what you do or say or how you act. You’re responsible for you.
I have also heard this as parenting advice like your children are not old enough to carry the burden of being responsible for your mood. That feels like so much power to them and it probably scares them more than it makes them feel good. They don’t need or deserve the power or responsibility or burden of determining our mood and actions. We are called to the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. At all times. Even if your kid or your coworker or spouse or the person in the car in front of you isn’t using those things- it’s not a free pass for you.
We teach this to our kids by showing them this. I’m as convicted as anyone listening! It’s a word for me that I’m sharing with you! I’m not standing on a pedestal preaching this. I’m right here with you!
Let’s find a thankful heart. Let’s realize how much of what we want most, we already have. Let’s pray for the rest. Directly ask God. Ask him to give you desires that align with his desires for your life. Pray about your next move.
Philippians 2:14-15 says Do everything without complaining or arguing. So that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God. Shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
Proverbs 15:15 says A gentle answer turns away wrath.
Sometimes you can’t change someone but you can change yourself. You can lead by example. Choose kindness.
Also we are probably saying to our kids, no whining. So we can lead by example. No whining. We have so much to be thankful for!
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