Complain, Complain, Go Away
Last week I decided to go back home for the weekend.
I rolled out of my bed, got ready, and headed downstairs to get some breakfast. As I came downstairs, I saw my dad laying around in the living room. He had been moping and feeling miserable all week, and I hadn’t talked to him much. Most of it was from stress. My dad has always struggled with this. It made me sad to see him so down and unhappy all the time.
As I fixed up some eggs, my dad made his way out into the kitchen. He began to complain about the weather, his job, his finances, and just life in general. My mom and I gently tried to tell him that he can’t control things like the weather and that there’s no sense in worrying about things that can’t be changed. We tried to assure him that life is filled with good things, and that it’s only bad if we choose to see only the negative.
Dad did not like this. He tried to explain, “That’s just the way I am. That’s human nature. I can’t help it. Complaining is just something I do, and it’s something I’ve always done.”
He then proceeded to mock my mom and myself.
Every time we said something, he mocked us, saying things like, “Oh, well, if everything is going to be fine, then why worry about it? Everything’s going to be okay. Everything will work out, right?”
Finally, after he had mocked my mom and brought tears to her eyes, I had had enough. I’ve never really stood up to my dad before, but I had gotten sick of his attitude and complaining and negative mindset.
“Dad, you need to stop,” I said.
He kind of laughed at me, and with tears in my eyes I seriously said again, “You need to stop.”
He looked at my sister perplexed and asked me why. He really didn’t understand.
I said, “You choosing to complain and stress and worry about things all the time is only making your own life miserable and ours. I understand that you have things you are stressed out about - your job, finances - I get it. But all you can do is examine the problem, look at your solutions, and move forward. You can’t keep looking back or worry about what lies ahead. You have to live in this moment now and take what you’re given. You can’t go through your whole life moping and feeling sorry for yourself and just having a giant pity party all the time. It’s a choice. And you have to choose to stop complaining and being negative. It’s up to you. But I’m tired of seeing you like this.”
All Dad said was, “We’re not going to talk about this anymore,” and then he went downstairs.
I didn’t really talk to Dad much that day, and when I left that night things still weren’t smoothed out or talked about.
On Wednesday night I received a phone call from him and his first few words were, “Thank you for rattling my chain a little bit.” He explained how he had thought about what I had said and realized the life he was choosing to live. He told me, “I want to change my ways. I need to change my ways. I feel like I’m being called right now to do it.”
So I invited him to come to church with me on Sunday. He agreed, and I made him promise he wouldn’t back out.
That night, I flipped open my devotional by Joyce Meyer for that day and saw the words “Choosing Not to Complain” printed at the top. I immediately started grinning. It was exactly what Dad needed to hear.
It read, “Do you complain about things that are not that important in the larger scope of life? Are you, in reality, extremely blessed but have fallen into a trap of focusing on what you don’t have instead of what you do have? I know I do at times, and I was grateful for the reminder from the Lord to be thankful in all things and realize that complaining is evil in His ears. Let us be committed to thank God throughout each day of our lives and voice that thankfulness to Him.”
Amazing. I sent it to him. I then continued to pray and pray all week that the service on Sunday would really speak to Dad. I prayed over and over that the service would really make a difference in his life and move his spirit.
Come Sunday morning, and, sure enough, Dad was waiting for me in the church parking lot. We walked in together, talked to some people, and went in to get seats. All the songs pertained to trusting in God. One of them that really moved me was “It is well,” reminding us that God gives us a peace and makes everything right in our souls.
Every single person that went up to speak before the pastor talked about trusting in God and not worrying about the rest of the baggage we carry. The moment came for the preacher to get up there and speak. I prayed silently over and over that God would allow this message to work within my dad’s heart. The pastor put up the first slide, and the word “COMPLAINING” revealed itself in big letters across the screen. I laughed out loud, looked at Dad grinning, and shook my head. God is amazing.
One of the first things the pastor said was, “We can’t just keep complaining and say ‘That’s just the way I am.’” This is the exact thing my dad was trying to say to us before.
“When we place our eyes on our own problems and not on Christ, we put the energy and attention and focus dead-center onto ourselves. When we choose to complain, we lack gratitude. Look at the Israelites. God provided for them over and over again, yet they still chose to live in negativity. When God is providing for you and you’re not happy, you have a problem. Know that when you complain, you’re not complaining against us - you’re complaining against God.”
We spent a lot of time talking about Paul too. Paul had just about everything under the sun that was bad happen to him. But Paul didn’t choose to be at the center of his own story. As a prisoner bound by physical chains, Paul recognized that he could not free himself from the chains, but he could change his perspective. He chose to do so.
Be like Paul. Choose to see God’s presence and power. Choose to look for Him.
I was deeply moved and even choked up at the work God had done this morning. My dad left the place knowing that he had someone fighting for him every step of the way. He gained a peace that trusting in the Lord will provide what he needs. We both teared up as we knew God had stirred up some major things in our souls.
Overall, this story goes to show that God may use you to reveal something to another. He may also be reminding you that complaining does not progress or improve your life in any way. All it does is keep the focus on yourself. When you feel yourself wanting to complain, remember these five things:
Complaining does nothing to improve your problem.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your way of thinking about it.
When you choose to complain, you take the focus off of God and instead put it on yourself.
God does not promise to keep us away from hardships, but He does promise to walk with us through every one we endure.
You have the power to choose positivity. You have the choice to resist complaining. Train your mind to find what’s good instead of what you think is bad. Trust in the Lord.
Philippians 4:12-13 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”