By: Kacie Starr Long
"Do everything without complaining and arguing." Philippians 2:14
With a big sigh, I heaved the final, heavy box of fabric onto the table.
I was tired.
Annoyed and stressed.
I had been working many days back to back without a true sabbath and I was tired. I began to complain to my friend. I complained how my car was full of odds and ends of remnant fabrics that had been donated, and how I hadn't found a good home for them. I complained about how an open bottle of liquid coolant had accidentally leaked unto her jacket after being left behind in my car trunk months ago. I went on and on for a bit, and finally my friend told me:
"Quit your whining."
I stopped in my tracks to process what she had just said.
"Quit your whining."
She didn't say the words viciously. She didn't say them dispassionately, she simply told me what I needed to hear at the moment.
As I reflect on this recent encounter, I am grateful for a friend that felt comfortable to tell me the truth. This friend, who is also like a mentor to me, allowed God to speak through her. There are times in our lives, where we need to vent. Where we need to exhale to a friend who is gentle, compassionate and reassuring; and there are also times, when we need friendships that will tell us the truth -- in love, so we can really see (and hear) ourselves.
The truth is, is that I have been complaining - a lot.
Complaining about work.
Complaining about my finances.
Complaining about my feelings.
Lately, I have been a grumpy pants and have witnessed first hand how complaining can open a door for the enemy to wreak havoc. I've seen my complaints morph into stagnancy, complacency, heaviness, oppression and even a bit of depression.
I know it's the holiday season and it's a time for everyone to be merry, but maybe like me you need a friend to lovingly and directly speak God's truth to you:
Change your thoughts.
Change your words.
It's not easy. I know sometimes it can be really hard to change how we think, when our feelings of stress, agitation and holiday blues are so loud, but we must focus on the truth:
God is with you and God is with me.
God is with us and that is worthy of praise.
Our feelings are just that - feelings.
God gave us feelings as human beings, but our feelings don't have to control us.
While you may feel stressed, agitated or frustrated about things that are happening (or aren't happening) in life, are there any areas twhere GOOD is taking place that you can sharpen your focus?
Recently, I have begun to list ten things I am grateful for every morning before I get out of bed. Every morning, I search my mind for 10 things to express gratitude to God for. Sometimes they are things like my health, my husband, my mother, a relationship with God, a warm bed to sleep in...anything I can think of, I give God praise. This has helped tremendously to focus on the goodness and grace of God.
During the times when I still find negative thoughts entering my brain, and desiring to exit my mouth, I'm learning to put them in the form of a prayer request. It looks something like this:
"God, things are really tough right now. I am frustated because this situation seems like it just won't change. Can you please give me your perspective as I go through this challenge? Help me to remember your truth - that you are with me and you will never leave me. That you will use this hard situation for my good."
Truthfully, complaining and whining has never been known to help a situation. It might feel good temporarily to the flesh to unleash a verbal tirade, but as believers, we know that we eat the fruit of our words (Proverbs 18:21). Why would I want to eat a bunch of nasty, negative, nary-filled words and thoughts?
I also know that it doesn't help to supress my thoughts or ignore my true feelings. When I am feeling upset, discouraged, or defeated, I do need a healthy outlet to process my thoughts and feelings. I do make sure I share my feelings with God, a therapist, or safe friends, and when helpful, I find myself journaling, or "walk and talks" where I go out for a walk and talk things out with God or a friend.
I share this because I think its important to know that while God doesn't us to grumble and complain, He doesn't expect us to not allow Him into the tough places in our lives. We don't have to pretend that we aren't aggravated, stressed or frustrated. The purpose of this writing is to encourage you (and myself) that when we feel this way --- to focus on the key ways where God is working IN our lives and the GOOD that is taking place; and to be honest and real with God; by venting or expressing our thoughts to Him in a way that allows Him to bring peace, comfort and resolution.
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Hi, my name is Kacie Starr Long. I am an author, and speaker and I love to use my voice to point people to Jesus. When I'm not writing, I'm either working out at Orange Theory Fitness or sewing. I'm in recovery from compulsive overeating and I have a sewing ministry, called the Sew Hope Community Sewing Room. I am the proud wife of Alfred T. Long, Sr and together we lead a non-profit that serves prisoners and their families. Connect with me at www.InspiredOverflow.com and via my YouTube page for Christian teachings and encouragement.