Tag Archive for complaining

Contentment is a choice.

Contentment is a topic that kept resurfacing over and over again this past week, and whenever that happens, I know the Lord is trying to teach me something.

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Discontentment can creep into our hearts in the subtlest ways, like the other night when I just wanted a few minutes of peace and quiet. It had been a busy day, and I had met the needs of everyone in the house, and had a busy “ministry” day.

Peter made a nice fire in my fireplace so I could read, but I couldn’t seem to get to my bedroom to enjoy it. As I ran around, tidying up the house, I could feel the frustration building and discontentment growing each time I passed my bedroom and saw the warm glow flickering and heard the wood crackling. The internal complaining began:

What am I, the maid? Can’t I have five minutes to myself? Am I the only one with two arms and two legs in this house? Why am I doing everything?

God graciously convicted me after a few minutes that my complaining thoughts were not okay. Wanting a fire and solitude are wonderful things, good gifts, but

not the ultimate thing. When I desire good things too much, and it morphs into demands, you can be sure discontentment and covetousness are at the root.

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Nobody wants to be discontent. I strive to be joyful, but without contentment,  joy is completely impossible and elusive.

I’m not alone in this struggle. I’ve sat and listened to many women who find joy elusive. It’s always just out of reach because everything is not the way they’d dreamed. Happiness would come:

  • If I were thinner/prettier
  • If my kids weren’t so disobedient
  • If finances weren’t so tight
  • If I had an attentive husband
  • If I had a better childhood
  • If people respected me more
  • If that person would just leave
  • When this thing ____________{fill in the blank} changes

But do other people make us unhappy or is this just a way of blame shifting?

Jerry Bridges, in Respectable Sins says this:

“Your circumstances may be much more difficult than any I’ve ever experienced, but the truth is, it is our response to our circumstances rather than the degree of difficulty that determines whether or not we are discontent.

My contentment is not based on my situations or circumstances, but on my responses and the focus of my heart.  Contentment is a choice.

Lydia Brownback, in her lovely book “Contentment” says this of Rachel:

Jacob’s wife Rachel was never a very happy person. She wasn’t a very productive woman either. She spent the majority of her life seeking the things she wanted at any cost and at the expense of other people. God never satisfied Rachel, which is precisely why nothing else satisfied her either.

Discontentment is an equal opportunity tormentor and we see it in every walk of life:

  • the single girl who wants to get married and the married lady who wishes she wasn’t,
  • the woman who struggles with infertility and the woman who has so many children she can’t hear herself think,
  • the woman who lives in a teeny-tiny apartment and the woman who can’t stand to clean her enormous house,
  • the mom of toddlers who just wants a break and the empty-nester who thinks her life is over now that her kids are gone
  • the woman struggling to put food on the table and the richest woman in Hollywood.

When God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, He prefaced all ten of them with this statement:

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

So when we’re breaking the 10th commandment by coveting (which is idolatry, because of discontentment) we’re forgetting the Lord our God.

I am the Lord thy God. Period. I am everything you need. You are no longer in bondage. I am in control. I am doing what’s right for you. If you follow my ways, you’ll be blessed.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

Be content. Why? Because I am the Lord your God. I will never leave you or forsake you. You have everything you need.

Everything. If we have Christ, we have it all. Anything else is just an extra blessing.

Sow thankfulness, reap contentment.

How are you pursuing contentment?

*post contains Amazon Affiliate links to books I recommend at no cost to you.

Thoughts on Complaining {from my teenage daughter}

Today I have a guest post from my second daughter, Emily, who has been doing a personal study on complaining. She wrote this for a teenage audience and I asked if I could share it with you. Maybe you have a teen daughter that would benefit from the thoughts of another teenage girl trying to follow God?

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I don’t know about you, but I’m a big complainer. 

If my mascara runs onto my cheek, I complain.

If McDonalds is out of Honey Mustard sauce, or I don’t look just the way I want, I complain.

Before this study, complaining didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. I mean, yeah, I knew I wasn’t supposed to complain, but I never really thought about how big this sin really is.

In Numbers 11:1, it says that when God heard the Israelites complaining, He sent fire down and it consumed them.

That seems like a big deal to me—God consuming people with fire, just because they complained. I’m glad that doesn’t happen to me every time I complain, or I’d be dead many times over.

There are some things I say that I don’t realize are complaints—until someone points them out to me. Little things like, “Ugh! My phone’s out of battery again,” or “My hair never works for me,” are everyday complaints that we throw out there without thinking, when, in fact, we are so blessed to live in a place where we CAN say things like “My phone’s out of battery.”

I’m sure you’ve all heard the quote “Someone else is happier with less than you have.” That is so true. God has blessed us with so much. How dare we complain when a little thing like wet smelly laundry gets in our way?!

Philippians 2:14 says “Do all things without murmuring…” That’s pretty straightforward. It doesn’t say do MOST things, it says ALL things.

Jesus died on the cross for every single one of our sins. That means that He died for every one of our complaints. I think that if we double check ourselves before we say anything, we would be much better off. If we think to ourselves, “Is what I’m about to say going to edify the people listening (Ephesians 4:29)?” we’d keep ourselves in check.

Another verse on being content is Philippians 4:11. It was written by Paul the apostle. He was in jail, writing to the Philippian believers. He wrote, “…I have learned in whatsoever state I am, to be content.” That’s humbling. I’m pretty sure none of you reading this are in jail, but even if you are, they are nothing like the jails back in Bible times. They were dark, cold, damp places that probably had rodents running around in them. And Paul was content.

Wow. Now that smelly laundry pile doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Or the shoes being a bit snug. Or the tooth paste falling into the sink instead of the toothbrush.

The definition of the word content means to be satisfied with what one is or has. It also means not wanting more or anything else.

By saying he was content, Paul was saying he was satisfied with being in jail. Don’t get me wrong, Paul was no idiot. He was saying that if God wanted him in jail, he was perfectly happy there. There was nothing he’d rather have and nowhere he’d rather be, if he was in God’s will.

So, what’s the solution for a complainer?

If we stop thinking about ourselves and the things we don’t have, and start thinking about the people around you and the many, many things that God has blessed you with, it’s much harder to complain. If we change the thought “Ugh, my phone’s out of battery again” to “Thank the Lord I have a phone” it edifies the people around you and ultimately brings glory to God.

Thankfulness: Contentment’s Kin

Still meditating on contentment, and realizing that when I am discontent (or when I grumble) I am raising my fist at God– not physically, mind you, because I know better than that. But, in my heart, it is just that. I.am.blaming.God.

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for your life” is violated when I complain. This sin spirals quickly into envy (why did they get it?), self-pity (poor me, I want _______) and covetousness (I need to have it). Sin in the life will quickly kill all joy. A joyless Christian is SO not a good commendation of the gospel!

The remedy: Thankfulness.

Thankfulness is contentment’s kin. They always go hand in hand producing joy.

Thanksgiving recognizes that all that I have is from God’s good hand–that I am totally dependent on Him for life, breath and all. He gives me good things when, in fact, I deserve hell. To not give Him thanks must be such an assault to His character.

So today, I will be focusing on the goodness of God and will count my blessings.

Why don’t you count yours, too.