October 8, 2020
You Complaining? Motive-Check Time
The other day I was in a restaurant where the tables were outside and closer to each other, so it was easy to hear them talking. (Yes, as a psychiatrist I people-watch and eavesdrop.) As I listened, I realized there was a distinct pattern across the conversations – complaining. Everyone was complaining about something – masks, food, wait, traffic, weather, price. Whoa – I just realized, right now, even I am complaining about everyone complaining!
No one wins when you complain. You get all worked up, pulling the scabs off sores that need to heal. Complaining is rarely welcomed by those on the listening end. It actually puts you on a slippery slope to deadly sins such as pride, duplicity, laziness, self-pity, bitterness, rage, or hard heartedness.
So, if it’s not good for us, why do we complain so much? The answer, as usual, is that we don’t like discomfort and pain. It is uncomfortable for us to feel inferior to others. So we try to make ourselves look better. By picking at issues and putting others down, we rank ourselves above others. Another reason for complaining is prideful thinking. We assume we know exactly how situations should go. Then when events don’t turn out as planned, we complain about the alternative reality that God has given us. Other discomforts like not getting our way, lacking control, or discontent with what we have will get us complaining in order to pump ourselves up.
Examining the past and learning from it is an important part of growing in maturity. But we need to look at the past with the goal of bringing hope to what the future holds. Complaining is not constructive remembering, it is destructive remembering. When processing negative events, (and I am certainly advocating that we need to process and understand negative events), we have to be careful about our real motives. The intention needs to be one of personal growth for others and ourselves. Looking at past events should lead us towards a more Godly and fulfilling future.
Today, if you feel like complaining, talk with God about the difficult path you are on. He understands the stresses and strains that are affecting you better than anyone else. Talking it out with God will temper your thoughts, soothe your feelings, and help you to see things from His perspective. If you are complaining or listening to complaints, stop and take time to check your motives. Always remember that each of us is a sinner saved by grace. And don’t forget that there are people with complaints about you, too. Whether you complain to anyone who will listen of or you humbly look for solutions and talk to God is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, I have been on a long, uphill journey. My energy is almost depleted. In this state of mind, I complain to others all too quickly. I want to live by Your Word, Lord. And Your Word teaches me to do everything without complaining. Help me, Lord, to bring my complaints to You alone. Help me to stop ridiculing others by complaining about them. Help me to develop and maintain a thankful heart. Help me send the message to others in a loving way, that complaining is wasteful and counterproductive. Help me lead them to You. I pray in the name of the one who refreshes me, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe Philippians 2:14-15
I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint Jeremiah 31:25