Sunday, February 16, 2014

Complaining in Black and White

So this week when the temperature dipped again, schedules ran amuck and dental appointments went haywire, I saw complaining in black and white.

Last time I questioned the difference between authenticity ("Wow, this is hard") and complaining ("I don't like this"). The answer came in a moment when I realized complaining is another way of saying, "I want when I want it!" Ooh. Not pretty. Not desirable or appealing, but true.

When I complain, "I'm cold," really means "I don't like being cold. I want to be warm."
"My husband expects breakfast on the table at 7:00a.m. sharp," means "I don't want to serve my husband breakfast at 7 every morning."
"I wish I could go shopping today," means "I don't want to do whatever it is I'm obligated to. I'd rather go shopping."

The solution? Ah, the solution made me cringe. I had to own up to my discontent. God had provided for my need. I turned and stomped my foot in response. It's not a small offense. Once I got past the choking words of guilt and admission, words flowed and my heart began to melt. It sounded something like this:

"Oh, God. I want __________ and I'm angry and resentful You haven't provided it. I don't like feeling this way and I know it's wrong. Please help me let go of my desire and trust You. Help me want what You want, because right now, I don't.

"Until my heart changes, please give those around me grace. Please fill my heart with grace; help me be patient, gentle and loving because right now, I'm not. I can't manufacture those things, they're not in me, they're from You by Your Spirit.

"Help me give up what I want and desire to please You more than myself. Ugh. Why do I want what I want all the time? Thank you for giving Yourself for me. I need You. I am rebellious and selfish, but You know that. You loved me and died for this rotting, demanding soul who loses sight of You and fights against Your will and way. Please forgive me for not being content and trusting You with what is best. Thank You for working out Your good purpose and glory in my life. Amen."

I can't say change happened lickety-split, but God answered my prayer. He changed my heart and revealed the pride that lies behind complaining--the I-want-what-I-want syndrome. May God help us trust and depend on Him in each situation, for every moment. Praise God for His perfect love and provision, because I know I need it. It wasn't the last time I'll ever complain...but seeing the reflection as I stuck out my tongue at the mirror of God's Word is great motivation for change!

(see a similar post from my friend, Sarah, "The God Who Satisfies: Comfort or Contentment?" )

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:1-6)

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain." (Philippians 2:14-16)

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