Friday, November 27, 2009

One Final "Complaint"

I am very thankful for my husband Jeff of nearly 20 years.

Since it's the last Friday in November, I want to pause from the feast of leftovers today :) and reflect on 1 more issue of complaining... really two. Cindy brought up the great question of how to respond when people around us are complaining. I would like to hear how you deal with that challenge (leave a comment below). As I've chewed on her comment (not like chewing on turkey, mind you), I've come to some conclusions.

Ephesians 4:1-16 talks about how we are to walk out our lives in a way worthy of our calling as followers of Jesus. That means demonstrating maturity, instead of childishness. It means being strong, instead of being swept away by talk around us. It means not getting carried away by the wind of tongue wagging around us or falling prey to deceivers who draw us in with dishonest words. Joining in on complaining can be like arriving when a great yard sale opens. Before you know it, you have a wok and a box of 8-track tapes, and you feel good about it. Hmmm ....

We are, instead, to grow up and act like Jesus, specifically in our words. This isn't easy when words of grumbling are flying and our childish flesh rears its grouchy head and wants to join in the whining. THAT comes easily, but we don't have to let the swirl of complaining be our master. Next time you find yourself in a ghetto of griping (which may be your office cubicle, the church foyer, your Face Book wall, your sidewalk, the aisle in Wal-Mart, or a booth at Panera ...) try taking one of these tactics:

  • Be honest - Say something like, "You know what? I'm really trying to work on my tendency to complain. Let's talk about something else."
  • Pray & then "grow up and talk like Jesus" - Instead of scolding, you be the one to turn the tone and talk about what's good. It only takes one voice to change the course of conversation.
  • Ask a question - "That's really hard. How can I pray for you about that?"
  • Silence is agreement - Matthew 7 is a great reminder not to judge one another, but we are to be iron sharpening iron. If complaining is a pattern, you may need to speak up. Remember Ephesians 4 says we are to speak the truth in love, so approach it from an angle like this, "You seem really disappointed about that. It's not always easy to see things from God's perspective. I'll pray He'll give you understanding and grace to bear it."
  • You need ammo - Memorize scripture about contentment, so your mind is not just "swept away" by the talk around you. We can find ourselves complaining just like women buying purses on QVC ... just because everyone else is. ;) I love 1 Tim. 6:6. Short and sweet when under pressure.
  • Leave - This is the old "run from evil" approach, but you might need to find new company before you begin to fall into the pattern of those around you.

I think adult women often fall into the trap of complaining about our husbands, so I can't finish today without mentioning that. Proverbs 31 says an excellent wife does her husband good and not evil (v. 12) and that when she opens her mouth in wisdom the teaching of kindness is on her tongue (v. 26). This gal was not a complainer. When you look at her day, she might've had a few opportunities .... but she was known by her positive tongue that blessed others.

When tempted to gripe about your guy, STOP & be quiet. Relax ... it's not forever! ;) Stop long enough to:

  • thank God for your husband. It's hard to complain about someone we are praising God for
  • remember what his good qualities are. Be glad that he's not perfect; you aren't either.
  • consider that love is not only about being pleased; it's about being committed.
  • look at your watch. That's right. Remember that timing is everything, and if it's truly an issue to talk about, timing and setting should be chosen carefully. Give yourself time to wait and pray, then see what perspective God gives you.
  • think about how God sees your husband. Your guy is made in God's image and known and loved by His Maker.
  • acknowledge that God has appointed your hubby as your head and leader. This Middle Eastern manager, mom, and model of Proverbs guarded her husband's dignity and was careful with his confidence and reputation.
  • let go of him. You may be complaining because your guy isn't doing what YOU want him to do. He is the Holy Spirit's to shape and mature, and God is quite able to work on the quirks of your knight in shining armor.
  • think about yourself. Ask God to make you more and more into the woman He wants you to be, into the best wife your husband could have. He may even want to use your husband's weaknesses to grow you up.

Find yourself trapped in a husband bashing session? Before lightning strikes :) think back to the first suggestions. It only takes one wife to turn the tide of a flood of negativity and begin a wave of godly talk. If complaining is stinging your ears, that's the Holy Spirit prompting you to clamp down on the complaining and change the tone to talk that's worthy of the calling of Christ.

You, too, can quit the complaining and smile at the future. :) Would love to hear any "positive" words of wisdom that have worked for you or examples of being "turner of the tide." If you don't want to share, that's ok. I won't complain about it. ;)

3 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Tonya said...

OMGoodness! I love this post! Thank you! It is always good to have info on 'protecting your marriage" especially your husband's character...and not talking about him is STEP 1!!

eLisa said...

Julie, this is a really wonderful post. Thanks for taking the time to share!

Thanks, too, for joining in the Bringing Holy Back movement. I'm so glad to partner with you in this!


Kathy S. said...

Thank you for the challenge. Several years ago, after hanging out with a couple of friends who coomplained about their husbands alot, I found myself one day doing the same. By grace, I knew I needed to remove myself from the situation. I was a new believer, a new both those women are divorced. Very sad.

As I read your post, I realized that though I don't verbalize complaints much, I do have them in my heart, so I heard the Lord speak here today.