Lately, I feel like I have been complaining more than usual. I think that this is not true, that I have always been complaining, but God has recently brought this to my attention. I had this thought the other day: "I don't want to complain my way through motherhood, but I want to enjoy it--even with all of its difficulties!" Do you ever feel like you are complaining your way through motherhood? Some of the things I have heard others say or I have thought or said myself are: "When will this baby sleep through the night? I am so tired." "This baby is so fussy." "My kids are so disobedient. When will they learn?" "Why are my children always getting sick?" "I am sick of being pregnant." "I can't do this anymore. I need a break." "I never get any help around here." The list could go on and on . . .
I catch myself thinking any number of complaining thoughts during the day. Some things I voice to Cameron, some I voice to my girl friends. Others, I just think, lingering in my mind, unspoken. I noticed that sometimes when we complain to our friends, we want sympathy, we want someone to empathize with us, someone to laugh at our woes. The truth is, this only makes me feel better for a little while. It does nothing to get at the root of my complaining heart--it is the sin of discontentment, lack of joy, a distrust that God knows what is best for me, even the littlest trials. Complaining does not benefit anyone--our husbands, children, our friends, and ourselves! Left unchecked, complaining steals our joy and can turn into bitterness at our life's circumstances.
When we complain, we often want someone to say "Yes, I know! I have had the same problem. You are right, that does stink!" Poor us. But, wouldn't it be more beneficial for us to say to one another, "Yes I know, I have had the same problem, but the truth is . . . God knows what He is doing! He is working in your life through this trial and He is sanctifying you through this. It might help if you thank Him for this trial or think of the things in your life that you are thankful for."
The solution doesn't lie first and foremost in ceasing to complain, although that is the goal. What we need to do is begin to look at our trials differently so that complaining isn't the first thing that comes to our mind, but praise to God, a thankful heart. I don't want to complain my way through motherhood, but rejoice in the blessings that God has given me--even the trials, those "hard" blessings.
I have been praying and asking God to fight the complaints that seem to automatically come to my mind. I want a heart of rejoicing. I also am asking for God to help me tame my tongue so that every time I converse with my friends, I don't engage in complaining. My prayer is that Christ would be the common ground that binds me to my friends, and not complaints. Yes, it is extremely beneficial to vent our frustrations, but may it be fruitful--may we, as the ones listening to complaining offer encouragement in order to spur one another on to love and good deeds. And, may we as the complainers go to God first before we go to others. Only He can solve our problems and change our perspective. Maybe, when we do feel the need to vent, we can first tell our friend that we are sharing for the sake of receiving some much-needed encouragement, and not just someone to listen to us complain. Complaining for the sake of complaining only brings our friends down, too.
I have one really good friend that often "shares her heart" with me and others. She is an example to me because she does not complain, but seeks encouragement from others in her trials. She doesn't want someone to pity her, but wants to be more like Christ and asks others to pray for her in each trial she has. In addition, when I talk to her on the phone, she does not accept my complaints but always prays for me before we end our conversation. She is a source of encouragement to me and an example of how I should be with my sisters in Christ. Thanks Z!
Just this past week, my good friend Lori and I went out to lunch, just the 2 of us, for the express purpose of venting to one another in order to specifically receive mutual encouragement and edification. I wanted to be built up in Christ. I told her that when we decided to plan our lunch date. Lori knew that I needed to "complain" but she did not leave me there to wallow in self-pity. She replaced all of the lies I was believing with the truth of God's word and turned my thoughts to Christ. She rebuked me in love and spoke truth to me. Since then, I have felt peace in an area in my life in which I was struggling. That was fruitful complaining. Had I expressed my complaints to her and had she just nodded her head in agreement, I would still feel discouraged! I pray that all of my friendships in Christ are just as encouraging and that I, myself, can be a source of encouragement to other women.
In Christ, Laura