One of the statements that singer Beckah Shae made in her interview that really stuck with me was, “As believers and followers of Yeshua, the Messiah, we should be walking around like [we’re] in a celebration. Because people need to know who He is and the only way they’re going to find hope and know who He is, is if we have it. So if you’re claiming to be a follower, a believer in Jesus, then you should not be walking around complaining and moping and whining and distressed, upset and oppressed. Because if you know Him, you know that there is victory, you know that there is a hope.” I consider myself a pretty joyful person, but when I started to really focus on how much I complain, I was OVERWHELMED at how often negativity snuck into my life. I found myself complaining about my job… I have my dream job, why would I complain about it? I found myself complaining about my body…. I treat my body as the temple of the spirit, which is beautiful and glorious, so why would I complain about that? I found myself complaining about our house just because I wanted it to be a little cleaner and more organized. I found myself complaining about a perfectly good sermon at church just because I wanted it to be a little deeper.
Then, as I started to seek solid Christian friends to help me make a positive change and eliminate complaining from my life, I discovered that the majority of them complain as much, if not more, than me. In fact, I went to a friend that I volunteer with at a local youth group with the intention of asking him to hold me accountable. As soon as I saw him, he started complaining… unbelievable!
What is it about complaining? Do we really not have anything good in our lives? Does Satan just sway us to focus on the negativity? Are we becoming so tied up in the evil and darkness of this world that we can’t see the beauty and the light of Christ?
I asked God to reveal to me what was going on in my life that makes me complain. I came to these two conclusions:
1.) My focus: Instead of on God and all that He provides for me, my focus shifted to myself and what I am not capable of accomplishing due to my personal shortcomings,
2.) Lost hope: I found myself complaining when I felt trapped and couldn’t see a way out of a situation that was weighing me down.
These seem like reasonable excuses for complaining that could easily be justified, but it didn’t take me long to realize that Satan manipulated Adam and Eve in the garden to take their attention off of God and on to their own selves which resulted in the fall. Not that my self-focus is going to lead to another fall of man, but losing focus is proof that I am not operating under the strength and knowledge of my mighty God.
So, I started thinking about Beckah’s words again, and thought to myself, what do the youth think when they see me and my friend complaining to each other at youth group? Originally, I just thought, “Oh, they’ll get over it, they know that I’m not like that all the time.” But really, who wants to come to a youth group of complainers? What youth would admire an adult who complains all the time? Who would want to live a life following Christ, if His followers complain about everything? The bible says that Christians will be known by their love… where is love in complaining?
Matthew 5:46-47 says even pagans love those who love them, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” What if this bible verse included the topic of complaining, even pagans complain… even nonbelievers, atheists and devil worshipers complain. So, as Christians, we should strive to prevent foolishness by ridding negativity in our lives.
How do we move away from complaining and move closer to love? We need to recover the fullness of joy that can only be felt when we are in God’s presence. As Beckah Shae puts it, “The only way we can share love for one another and love for God is through His faithfulness and His goodness in our life. And when we have that peace that surpasses all understanding, when we have that joy that the world can’t offer us, people will know that God is real, that He exists and that He is really in our life. So we need to stand up and declare and confess that He is life. And I believe that 1 John 3:18, ‘Let’s stop saying we love others, but show you love them through actions and in truth’.”
My current battle is to exude more love in my life. Now I could easily go out of my way to love others, especially those less fortunate than myself, or I could focus on the positives in my life every time I mention something negative. I could find an accountability partner who calls me out on my complaining, but these challenges seem surface level. So, I am focusing on how much God loves me. By reading His word and soaking up His love, I am sensing His joy, His hope and His faithfulness because of His great love for me. Through the discovery of God’s abundant love in my own life, it becomes easy to radiate that love to others. So, as I read God’s word every day, I ask Him to reveal His love for me in scripture. As I walk through my day, I count the blessings He has provided me… blessings that are not obtainable on my own. Then, I express my love and thanksgiving to Jesus, my Savior, through various forms of worship.
It’s great if I can minimize the amount of complaining that I do, but does that really make a significant impact to the Christian community? That got me thinking back to my friend that I was going to seek support from on my journey. Ironically my noticing his complaining was yet another self-centered act. I thought to myself, did I really hear what he was complaining about or did I just hear that he was complaining? I should have listened to him to hear his frustration. His struggles are not my own, but they also needs to be conquered. So I decided to approach him again. This time, I informed him of my struggle while acknowledging his feelings as being worthy of recognition. I tried, this whole time, not to judge, because that again brings the focus on myself. Then, amazingly, our conversation changed to God’s graciousness and faithfulness, we were able to apply that to his situation and were able to see some positive aspects in the issue in which he was complaining. We both walked away realizing that our desire to stop complaining could be accomplished as we continued to focus on God’s goodness in our lives.