I hate driving. Hate is a strong word, but honestly, I do hate it. Driving in rush hour traffic in Seattle is like bicycling through a Nascar race. It sounds exhilarating and fun until you find yourself running and screaming on the road like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights.
Driving isn’t the only thing I have a problem with. Just the other day I discovered a potential client didn’t have the decency to inform me that he went with another designer. I don’t think he understood how much time I put into my proposal. Otherwise, he would have chosen me.
Speaking of business woes, I’m pretty sure I let it be known to everyone I come in contact with that I’m tired of never getting a day off. I’m also stressed about not having enough work in the pipeline and on the flip side I always feel like I’m scrambling to get a process in place when I have a flood of work come in.
Complaining comes naturally to me, and if I’m correct, it probably comes naturally to you too. Something sets us off, and we immediately spew out words that describe our discomfort in the situation. That’s the intriguing thing about complaining. Complaining is the result of the trigger. 99% of the time the trigger is something we can’t even control.
Why do we spend so much time complaining about things we have no control over?
The bumper to bumper traffic on I-5 is out of your control.
The potential client passing you up is out of your control.
Only having 24 hours in the day is out of your control.
The other issue with complaining is that the complainer chooses to think the center of the universe revolves around them. When circumstances aren’t tailor-made with outcomes in favor for us, it’s easy to mutter our whines up to the heavens.
Complaining is a daily choice of being self-seeking or acknowledging that everything that has been given to us is a gift from above.
What Does Scripture Say About Complaining?
Do everything without grumbling and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. Phillippians 2:14-15
Be hospitable to one another without complaining 1: Peter 4:9
Then the man replied, “The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Genesis 3:12
During the creation story, God saw that Adam was alone and saw that it wasn’t good. So, he created woman. What’s interesting to me about this story, is that the gift of community God gave to Adam is now what Adam is choosing to complain to God about.
“That woman you gave me did this.”
It’s so easy for us to blame others and even God when things don’t go our way.
If we read a little further into that creation story, we not only have Adam blaming God and Eve, we also see Eve blaming the serpent. The issue with complaining is that it’s toxic and contagious. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to complain about something when someone else is airing their grievances, too?
That’s why Paul challenges us to do “everything without grumbling.” Paul believes that God’s sovereignty is in all situations. To not complain we must trust in God and acknowledge his sovereignty in every circumstance.
Complaining isn’t good for you. It’s not good for your soul, your mind, or your body. A Standford University study shows that complaining shrinks the part of your brain that is critical to problem-solving and intelligent thought. It doesn’t stop there, your body then releases a stress hormone that impairs your immune system. Complaining makes you susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Complaining isn’t good.
So how do we nip complaints in the bud? Here are three ways to stop complaining:
1. Have a clear purpose.
Before you open your mouth, know what outcome you want. What is the solution you can provide to the problem? If you can’t identify a purpose, you’re probably just complaining just to complain.
2. Start a complaint with a compliment.
Start positively. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but find the positive in the negative. If you have a terrible experience with a company, what did you like about that company that made you choose them in the first place? Be a specific as possible.
3. Never give an ultimatum.
It’s easy for us to be upset and declare a definitive end. However, when we end in an ultimatum like “I’m never shopping here again,” the person who is hearing our complaint has no incentive to change. Instead, restate that clear purpose you have in your mind. What is the desired result that you are hoping that can be achieved? Work together to make the situation better. Remember, as Christians, we are here to bring heaven to earth. Not to complain how bad the earth is. We are the change. It starts with us.
Today, may you speak life with your words. May the words out of your mouth not be grumbles but solutions to a problem. May you edify others and may the Lord speak through you clearly.