I know it’s Marriage Monday, but I’ve had something else ruminating in my brain for a few days, so I’m posting this today, and promise that the MM post will be up first thing tomorrow. You can hold me to it.
Being Monday and the start of a new week, I’m going to put out a challenge, that I’ve been thinking of instituting here at home, and for myself on social media as well.
I’m proposing a ban on complaining.
Seriously…for the next two weeks, I’m going to try to tackle something that practically comes as naturally to me as breathing. I can tend to be quite a complainer. Not the worst offender ever (some folks on Facebook seem to live there, in Complaintsville…nothing is ever good or right), but I’m definitely far from being “little miss sunshine”. I talk about the good, but I think that a bit too often I whine about the negatives…
I complain about all manner of things…from the weather, to being tired, to my sanity, to my silly food cravings. (To the point that one of my daughter’s friends said the other week…”So I’m guessing from your mom’s Facebook posts that your house is a mess and she REALLY wants chocolate covered pomegranates?” And that about accurately summed up my week. Sad.)
Last night we had an incident with one of the kids that made it really stand out to me how much I am passing these ungrateful, complaining ways on, very strongly, to my offspring. I have been quite frustrated with the amount of selfishness, whining and ungratefulness I’ve seen in them of late. But it has been a bit slower in dawning on me how much of this they really do glean from…me.
Blech. I hate those parenting moments where you’re just so irritated at something and then realize that it’s probably, nearly 100% induced by my own behavior or bad habits!
I have been thinking about how much my own tendency toward complaining is so annoying (to me, and to others, I’m sure!), and I really don’t want to raise another batch of complainers. So, I finally decided, we really need to address this…and not in a way that just focuses on it being a ‘kid’ problem, but a ‘family’ problem.
In fact, in the process of working on this post, this quote just happened to appear in my Facebook feed…
“What you dislike in another, take care to correct in yourself.” ~ Thomas Sprat
So, I’m thinking of making it a challenge…with a tangible reward. Both the kids, and admittedly I, go for things a lot better when it’s got a short time-limit on it, and a prize associated with it. I like prizes.
Here’s the deal…I’m going to give each of them a roll of nickels. There will be a jar on the dining room table, and each time one of us complains, we have to drop in one of our nickels.
Now, in addition to less complaining equaling keeping the nickels we started with…this will also give a practical lesson of the biblical principle “to him who is faithful with little, he (or she) will be given more.” Because not only will we get to keep the nickels we started with…whoever has the most nickels at the end (meaning they did the least amount of complaining!) will also get the entire jar’s accumulated amount.
Pretty sweet deal if you ask me!
Except, of course, for the part where we don’t get to complain for two weeks. That might be a little tough.
I’ll admit this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to change my complaining ways. Heck, I’ve even justified them, on occasion, with scripture!
Actually, I honestly do think that God knows that we are only human, and it’s totally legit to sometimes be frustrated and just need to vent. We do get tired…worn down by life’s circumstances…and sometimes we need to let it out. There are real hardships in life, and I’m not meaning to minimize them. (Though, admittedly, my not having chocolate covered poms at my fingertips really does NOT count as a hardship.) In fact, just being real about our feelings and frustrations, and sharing them with others can definitely help us feel better. We can certainly see the truth of this in the Bible…for goodness sakes there’s a whole book called LAMENTATIONS…full of laments!! David himself talked of pouring out his complaints…
“I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles.” ~Psalm 142:2
However…I think there’s a difference between venting, in a way that helps us to unload a burden or process through a situation that in the end helps bring relief, freedom or sometimes even a solution…and merely whining for the purpose of self-pity, or to evoke sympathy from others for our momentary ‘plight’.
So, in a sense, there’s a good ‘complaint’, and a bad complaint. Just like there’s good (constructive) criticism and just tearing someone down. It’s about the heart attitude and motive more than the actual words. We could ask ourselves…”Why am I voicing this complaint? Do I legitimately want helpful feedback? Or am I just feeding my misery?”
Do I want an answer, or do I just revel in the complaining itself? And if I just like complaining…what is that producing in my life? Gratefulness, or growing discontent?
This week, I want to be intentional to try to convey the difference to my kids, and to work on really learning the difference myself. I want myself, and them, to be able to identify when we need to really talk about our feelings, or when we’re just grumbling and complaining out of selfishness or laziness or some other character issue that we might need to work on. I’m not looking to shut down emotions, or just put on a happy face, but rather, that we learn that not EVERYTHING is a trial, but when there is a hardship, it’s okay to lament…to God (as David did), which is surely a constructive avenue…and to others who might be able to help bring a solution to the problem. But if we are neither truly desiring help or change (that might need to come from our own selves), then we probably would all benefit from curtailing the whining and learn to focus on the massive amount of things we have to be thankful for, instead of bemoaning the slight inconveniences and thinking of them as hardships.
I realize this process might be akin to untangling spaghetti…but I’m feeling just optimistic enough at the moment to go for it.
And who knows…maybe I’ll come out the winner and can reward myself with a nice Venti latte…
“Do everything without complaining or arguing…” ~Philipians 2:14
And to end on a light note…a little humor to demonstrate the point…
How about you? Do you battle whining and complaining? Is it others, or yourself, where you notice it most? And most importantly…”Whatcha gonna do about it??” Wanna take the challenge with us? Leave me a comment to let me know if you’re going to tackle this one with us!