I think I can safely say that most of us complain, and we complain on a regular basis. God has been working on my heart in this area lately and I wanted to share what I have learned.
First, with my daughter Leah, she consistently complains about doing school each day. Each night when we are doing our family bible time and end with prayer, Leah asks God to forgive her for complaining about school, and to help her not to do it the next day. Her prayers are all from her heart and we do not lead her to what she feels compelled to confess. One day she even asked forgiveness for complaining about school. I said, “Leah I never heard you complain today.” She replied that she did not say the words but she was thinking them. I remember being humbled that my 7 year old knew that even thinking these negative thoughts were a reason to ask forgiveness. I am always learning from my kids in their child like faith.
Leah would ask me how she could stop complaining, that she really wanted to, but did not know how. So we came up with an idea. We have only carried this idea out for the last week, but it is a step forward. Each time I hear her complain I gently put my hand over her mouth. She then asks forgiveness from God and then says something that she is grateful for for the very thing she was complaining about. So an example:
Leah: I do not want to do school
Mom: Gently puts her hand over Leah’s mouth
Leah: asks God for forgiveness, then says…”Lord I am grateful that I have pencils, paper, and a teacher to help me learn.”
Then we hug and move on with our day. The great thing is that Leah gets to do this very thing back to me and Greg. So if she catches us complaining she will gently put her hand over our mouths. I decided that Leah really wants to stop complaining based on our conversations, but I think she got into a habit and did it without really realizing what she was doing. Isn’t that the same with me? It sure is. My best friend and I talk on the phone a couple of times a week. We take turns sharing our days, and complaining to each other when we feel like something is hard (husbands, children, schooling, time management, you name it). While I love my talks with her, I do not believe I should have such an ungrateful heart with our conversations. We also share in our joys with our husbands, kids, schooling, day to day, etc. But I am not sending my kids a very good example of not complaining and disputing. I am not living out giving God thanks in all things. When I complain I am really saying, “God I am not happy with this circumstance, I am not happy about how this is going, and I am going to let you know about it.” When I stop and dissect what I am actually saying, it is not how I want to be talking. It has become a very bad habit and I am excited with Leah’s help to start breaking it.
God has blessed me with soooo much. Yet I will find something wrong with just about anything. I really do feel very privileged to be able to home school my kids. But on hard days I find myself complaining about their attitudes, attentiveness, etc. Instead of praising God that he wants to grow me as a mother and teacher with the difficult times, I complain when it is not easy. I complain when my life is not as comfortable as I think it should be. I complain when I have to get up in the night with a child, when I should be praising God for the life of that child. I complain when I have to clean up after the kids when I should be praising the job of teaching them to clean up after themselves. I want immediate results, and raising kids, teaching my kids, and loving my kids takes years of patience, time, and a loving praise from me.
I might complain that I have to start my car early in the morning since we do not have a garage. When there are many people who would love to own a car to start in the morning. I might complain that I do not have anything to wear, when in actuality I have plenty to wear and am not satisfied with my choices.
I am not sure how long this bad habit of complaining of mine will take to break, but I am happy to say that I am eager to spend the hard work to break it. When did I get so against hard work?
Philippians 2:14 “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)