One of my friends recently took a “no complaining” challenge. She laughed as she told us how many sentences she started with: “I’m not complaining, but….” during that time.
It’s so easy to complain.
But, what IS complaining?
It’s sharing frustration at something that is not right. In this fallen world, there is SO MUCH that is not right. So many things that poke us and hurt us and make like uncomfortable and something inside us screams: “THIS IS NOT RIGHT!”
And it’s true.
Things are not how God created them.
So…is complaining wrong? Aren’t we simply acknowledging that something is not right when we complain? Isn’t that TRUE?
Well, what we focus on DOES expand and fill our view. I do think it’s important to take the limited energy we have and pour it into BUILDING UP the good, instead of focusing on the bad.
Another thing that most complaining does, is … well … nothing. It’s just talk, there’s usually no course of action for making things better. It’s venting with no solution.
But, I think there is something to be said for complaining, and giving ourselves and others room to complain.
Here are my reasons why:
- Complaining allows me to verbalize that something is wrong. I don’t know about you, but it usually takes me a bit of time to go from feeling like something is wrong to being able to verbalize what it is. Until I can nail down what is wrong, I have a difficult time finding a solution. When I am “trying not to complain” sometimes I shut myself off from identifying and pinpointing what is going wrong and remain unable to make progress in improvement and growth.
- Complaining allows me to bring others into my suffering. I don’t open up to everyone about everything. It may seem that way with how much I share on social media, but there is a lot of suffering and struggle and battles that I fight privately. Those who I share with have EARNED the right to know me because I trust them. But if I am not allowed to complain, there is no way they can understand, empathize and bring comfort and counsel into my life. I have fallen into the trap of not wanting to complain and I isolated myself and my suffering, making it a burden much heavier than it should have been.
- Complaining is not always a bad thing in the Bible (but sometimes it is). David complained. Job complained. The people of Israel in the desert complained. Of these three most prominent complainers – only one of them complained incorrectly. As I look at the difference between the types of complaining, the Israelites complained from a place of: “God you aren’t good. God you won’t take care of us. God we don’t trust you.” Whereas David and Job complained from a place of “God you are good. God I don’t understand. God I will trust you.” Job and David still complained – BITTERLY and HONESTLY before the Lord. It’s ok to be honest with God. Do you think He doesn’t already know your heart? When I try to be “holier than I am” before God it is such a JOKE! It only hurts me and creates distance between us. It only prolongs my healing and growth. The moment I am brutally honest with God – and I have been BRUTALLY honest with God – is the moment when He takes all the broken pieces and starts to put them together. He cannot put it together if I don’t surrender my broken pieces to Him. Trying to hide my complaints from God is never helpful.
The Bible says: “Let your requests (complaints) be made known to God and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
I am seeking to pursue the type of complaining that helps me identify the true problem, draws friends and family closer, and brings healing and remove from my life complaining that is rooted in fear and bitterness.
We’ve all experienced the kind of complaining that we don’t want to participate in…but maybe it’s time we did a little more complaining – with the PURPOSE of taking positive action to change, being transparent with those close to us and allowing God to heal our brokenness.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have pace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)