How NOT to Complain (and other important lessons I am learning)

In seasons of suffering it is very tempting to complain and grumble. NO one likes a complainer and sometimes the “who has it worse” game is a competitive sport. There is a time to “cry out” and to process disappointment, but grumbling is not healthy or God-honoring. I’m finally learning a few steps to keeping my HEART– yes, not just my mouth– from complaining.
**This is NOT instructing you. This is to demonstrate the details of “how I do it”**

Yesterday was a “roller coaster” day. Filled with ups, downs and getting thrown about a bit, by the end of the day I was a bit sore, weary, and ready for a rest from the fun. I’ll be honest, I woke up early and did NOT want to get out of bed. “Lord, I don’t want to face today”, I grumbled at God. “Be thankful” the Spirit answered.As I got my little ones out of their rooms to start the day, I sang the song my mother always sang as she woke us up; “This is the day! This is the day that the LORD has made…I will rejoice and be GLAD in it!”  They both smiled at me. I decided I would be glad in it, darn it.

The first step to NOT complaining is to determine in your heart to be thankful. When my focus is on God’s glory, God’s plan and how I fit into it, I am far less worried about my day, my plans or my comfort.Here’s an honest look at my frustrated heart and the painful refining that is taking place to make me a more tolerable and God-honoring human being. The fact is, we all like to complain and feel wronged. Learning not to is a discipline!

Thankfully, my friend Jen from Heaven Not Harvard wrote up a 30 Day No-Complaining- Challenge a few months ago and I was quickly convicted.  Check out this awesome perspective-changing challenge at http://heavennotharvard.com/2014/10/23/30-days-without-complaint/

Could I make it without complaining?

I dreaded saying goodbye to my Firstborn. IMG_4814 William and I quickly packed the car up and drove to UNC. We had a great clinic visit but there was no room for him. All in all, we waited 7 hours. Frustration mounted.

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We had to wait… but there were toys and volunteers! The clinic is usually crammed, but this day was empty due to the bad weather this week We had a set where I could sit and feed Will more easily!  Then he fell asleep…on my full bladder.When he woke up, the child ATE! It was messy and ruined his clean shirt, but without the ability to get a pump for his extra calories, his healthy appetite was a blessing. I reached into my bag for extra baby food and saw that it was a bag given to me by a pastor’s wife who came to visit. I am trying to pray for people when I think of them (a hard discipline for me) but Pam got a prayer.

The second step to not complaining is to recognize God’s provision.

Soon my tummy grumbled and I mentally noted that I had missed two meals when the doctor poked through the curtain. “Did you see the pizza in the break area? It’s cold, but it is food.”  Cold pizza is still something free for my belly. He even brought the slices to me! William immediately reached for the cheese and tried to chomp. Progress!
Will was so excited he pooped his pants. However, I had brought only one bag in–the bag of his clothes! I wasn’t stranded!

The third step to not complaining is to be thankful for others and for tangible blessings. Looking to see who could be blessed in the situation is more important than self-centered complaining. 

A lovely college aged girl met us and introduced herself as Will’s new CPAL, a hospital buddy! She rolled our suitcase and played with Will during the transition. Then I messaged a volunteer in the Carolina for Kids knowing they would be delivering dinner that night, and I asked her to keep a box handy. She messaged back that she would!

When we got to the 5th floor and entered our room, it was a tiny one. That was fine– a blessed room! The staff weighed Will and started his meds while I quickly ate and answered questions. A nurse promised they would get me a larger room when possible, which I told her wasn’t necessary. Then she pointed out that our room did not have a pull-out bed.

The fourth step to not complaining is to realize nothing is promised and I am NOT entitled to anything.

OUCH. I don’t rest much in the hospital, but a bed is very important to me. I had been looking forward to bedtime all day and felt a lot of disappointment. I mentally thanked my husband for insisting on that purchase and for being caring and providing. As I hauled the mattress pad in from the car, I was thankful the ice melted and I didn’t bust my backside. Plopping it down, I realized that one of the chairs reclined almost entirely, into a 45 degree angle. The mattress pad overflowed it, but I could sleep in a huge bed-burrito that wasn’t on the floor.

We settled in and honestly, we had a tough night.

I wanted to complain. In my heart, I felt a bit weary and frustrated. This is when scripture and songs come in handy. What we memorize when things are good resonate during hard times. “Why are you downcast, oh my soul? Put your trust in God!”

When you want to complain or feel frustrated in your circumstances, I’d ask a few questions:

WHY are you upset? I am often frustrated when something I planned or prepared for doesn’t go my way. I’m not in control or not comfortable.

What opportunity is God giving you in this moment?

Who is around you that may need help? What circumstances are coming to light you may not have noticed before?

What CAN you change? How can your attitude and action improve the situation for others?

How can you give God glory in the situation? No one likes a grumbling child who obeys with a bad attitude.

What advice do you have on learning to curb the complaining attitude? What victories have you had this week in this area?

Don’t forget, we are thankful for YOU.
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4 thoughts on “How NOT to Complain (and other important lessons I am learning)

  1. Your post made me think of my Grandmother. She is 88 and has always had a “never complain, never explain”attitude. She is mostly blind now, but still lives alone. I call her daily and I don’t think we have ever had a conversation where she hasn’t said, ” I’m so thankful.” “I have no complaints.” I pray that you continue to find strength. William is so cute!

  2. I found your story through Facebook, (someone shared William dancing to the A&M fight song to my page) and I just fell in love with him! He seems to have such a precious soul, and you such a servant’s heart. I’m in Sigma Phi Lambda at Texas A&M currently, and I’m asking all my prayer warriors to pray for your sweet family. May God’s grace and constant love reach you through this journey!

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