Phew! 48 hours finished! Will they be the hardest of the next 21 days? Time will tell. It has NOT been easy. Life has thrown me every curveball it can think of to challenge me from family drama, to finances, to computer failures, to water in the basement and everything in between. I can tell you that I’ve learned quite a bit about myself and about complaining.
1. Complaining is a HUGE part of my everyday conversations and how I often relate to others especially girlfriends. I met up with a friend today and I can tell you that complaints rolled off my tongue like water. It actually creates a bit of anxiety in me as I learn to navigate a real conversation without complaining. What will we talk about?!?!
2. I complain so much that I can not discern fact from complaint. I found myself asking Shawn, others or even myself if what I said was a complaint or statement. Unfortunately, more often then not the answer was an unsettling “complaint!”
3. I complain to complete strangers and even to my one year old. The fact that I felt compelled to relate even to strangers in this way was eye opening. I found myself telling a children’s store clerk, “I will be back tomorrow, when I’m not carrying so much!” Also, it is highly plausible that my tendency and habit of complaining to my children has thusly led to the corresponding habit in my children. This alone is a huge motivating factor to break the complaining habit.
4. There were many many many complaints left unspoken, which does not equate to success in my book. Luke 6:45 states “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Even if I don’t say it out loud, my heart is definitely still engaged in complaining. My goal in these 21 days is not just to hold my tongue better but to also have a changed heart!
5. Complaining and gossiping often go hand in hand. Eliza Cook sums this up well: “Sins are like circles formed in the water when a stone is thrown into it; one produces another. When anger was in Cain’s breast, murder was not far off.” Complaining in its simplest form is ingratitude. A failure to see the gifts of today and is a failure to seat myself in the joy of the Lord.
6. In the midst of some very frustrating situations, complaining makes the problem worse NOT better. In between a few moments of panic, anxiety, and anger I have been relatively calm and had more to laugh about. By NOT ruminating over things by complaining about them to everyone I’ve been able to “get over” things faster and “move on” to something better. I’m happier. I have more joy.
This leads me to my additional plan: Replace each and every complaint which leaps to my brain with a thought of gratitude. For instance, when I feel like complaining about the oppressive heat I will instead be thankful that it is summer or that we can visit the pond to cool off. When I want to complain about the manner of dress of some of today’s youth, I will be thankful that their underwear at least completely covers everything.
I would love to know what you are learning if you have joined me on this challenge! Do your child exhibit an attitude of discontent and ingratitude too?