the learning house

where everyone (especially me!) is learning . . .

My name is Terri and I’m a complainer.

on December 2, 2012

stop_complainingComplaining is one of my pet peeves. I can’t stand to listen to the ungrateful whining . . . “Really, we’re having this for breakfast again?” . . . or “But I don’t want to wear those pants – they’re not fancy! . . . or “Not this cup, Mom. I wanted the purple cup!” Really? Just be thankful for what you have and STOP COMPLAINING. That’s right . . . I hate complaining – when my kids do it that is. But what about my complaining?

In Bible time with the kids we have been learning about Moses and the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land. If you’re familiar with the story then you know that time and time again, the Israelites complained to Moses . . . We’re hungry. We’re thirsty. We’re going to die here. Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in the desert? We had it so much better in Egypt . . . etc. And time and time again, God displayed his power and might, providing for their needs in miraculous ways, and showing mercy on a whining, sniveling, ungrateful people. So this was the ideal segue for reminding my children that whining and complaining make God sad and how important it is to be thankful for what we have and remember that God has our best in mind . . . now when one of my children complain I remind them of the Israelites – “You sound just like the Israelites, remember???”

But this week as we read a passage from Numbers 11, I felt convicted that I was the one who needed a refresher course on gratitude. Why is that? There were the Isrealites, after a year in the wilderness, after a year of God’s faithfulness – in fact they had just celebrated the 2nd Passover – celebrating God’s victory over Pharoah and their exodus from Egypt – and already they are complaining again. Annoying, right? So God sends down fire as a little reminder Who is in control here and then on they move to the next camp. Any guesses what happened there??? That’s right – more complaining. And this is the one that got me . . . the one that sounded like echoes of my own discontentment and to be honest, sometimes even contempt, living in a foreign land. So what were they complaining about? What do I complain about??? Food. But God provided manna for them to eat so what’s the problem? Well, they were sick and tired of manna. They wanted meat. They remembered the good fish they ate in Egypt. They missed onions, leeks, garlic, cucumbers and melon. They were so unhappy that they romanticized their life in Egypt and minimized the inconveniences. It all sounded a little too familiar.

What it boils down to is that I’m not really that much more grateful at times than the Isrealites were. I lament the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables here. I remember the good food we ate in America.  I miss corn on the cob, strawberries and blueberries, broccoli and asparagus, pork, ribs, steak, the list goes on. I get tired of making everything from scratch. Everything. I get bored with cooking the same recipes over and over. It seems I have the same short-term memory issue that the Israelites had. I sometimes wonder if God isn’t up there thinking, Really, Terri? Have you already forgotten your excitement over the granola bars and chocolate chips that came in a care package just last week? What about that box of Frosted Flakes you couldn’t believe you found at the store earlier this month? I thought you were happy with the fresh juicy mandarins available at the market lately? Well, sure I was delighted. For a moment. And then my thoughts went right back to all the other things I can’t get here. Isn’t that just like us humans?

So how can I – how can we – cultivate a heart of gratitude and learn to be content whatever our circumstances? In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus – I Thessalonians 5:18. The secret of happiness is . . . NOT comfort food, NOT shopping, NOT more stuff. It’s simply giving thanks. When my focus is on what I do have rather than what I don’t have, or better still, when my focus is not on what I have at all but rather on who I am in Christ then suddenly strawberries don’t sound so important. The Israelites might have complained less if they could have kept sight of the goal – the mission – the Promised Land. And so it is with us with me. Gratitude requires a shift in thinking. A change of perspective. From me to HIM. From my life to the one who gave His life for me. Let us be thankful and so worship God . . . – Hebrews 12:28.

What helps you to stop complaining and be content? How do you try to cultivate a heart of gratitude in your children?

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8 responses to “My name is Terri and I’m a complainer.

  1. Faith says:

    Well written, Terri and such a good reminder for me too! Have you heard of Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts?” It talks about this very thing and man it’s a constant struggle for me! Hope you’re encouraged today.
    Faith

    • Yes, I have read it. Amazing how learning gratitude gradually changed her life – what a journey! I have so much trouble remembering to pause, reflect, and give thanks. Thanks for your comment and the encouragement :0

  2. I loved this, it was very good and something I’m also working on and trying to be more aware of what I say. When my daughter complains, we bring up the Scripture, “Do all things without complaining or arguing,” but then how many times do I catch myself grumbling about the car moving (what I think is) too slowly in front of me, how far behind I am on something, the bills, etc. Children learn from example, and I need to be a better example of this Scripture if I expect her to do the same.

  3. Amen! Now that was real!! 🙂 You are not alone as I definitely resemble this. It’s when I get my eyes off the prize and start thinking I “deserve” something different. I’m so thankful that God loves me so much not to let me remain there.

  4. I’ve tried on my own strength to do this, but fail every time. I know the only way to do this is through prayer and surrendering self. Prayer is definitely easier than giving up my own efforts. 🙂

  5. Courageous Jane says:

    Great blog! So glad I took a look. This was a timely reminder for me as another night of not-enough-sleep has left me feeling grouchy … but how blessed am I that I slept that time, both asleep and awake, in a warm, comfy bed, surrounded by loved ones? Yeah, blessed beyond measure. Thank you again!

  6. Kristin Surver says:

    Pastor Kevin recently made us practice in his gratitude is the key to increasing our joy sermon, “It could be worse…” in response to a wide variety of daily circumstances. Usually saying this makes me laugh because it’s such a MN way of speaking, but so true. Thanks for sharing from your heart, Terri! My complaints always seem so wimpy when compared to others’. Hey, let me know if you want a new recipe. Just pick an available food item and I’ll see what I can find in my stash to spice up the routine.

    • Kristin, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comment – maybe I should listen to the podcast of pastor kevin’s message. I would love some new recipes! Maybe either something using ground beef, or chicken? Those are the main meats I cook with. What are some of your family favorites? Thanks so much 🙂

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