Until you accept that there’s an issue to be fixed or something to improve, nothing will change. This is me continuing the EX series from last year. The last Ex was Denial and the Ex we want to talk about today is complaining. There is the famous saying; “doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result is insanity”, and likewise complaining from now till next year definitely doesn’t do anything. The thing is, a lot of people leave the company of denial and teleport straight into the company of complaining, or some people co-exist in both. Trust me complaining can be even worse.
Complaining is like a step after denial, cos I’m sure you would agree with me, you have to acknowledge the existence of something, even just a tiny bit to complain about it, right? For me, I complained a whole damnn lot. In this instance, I am referring to complaints about oneself, one’s circumstances and one’s journey in life, not when the waiter messes up your order.
Firstly, what exactly makes complaining worse?
Ever heard of ankle weights? So they are these weights made for your ankles basically, not the ones you lift with ur hands. You wear them around your ankle and are meant to walk with them, jump with them. Now, imagine having them on, even just 1.5 KG ones, that sound insignificant, but 24/7, whether you are awake or asleep, indoor or outdoor every single damn time to everywhere; imagine the discomfort. Imagine how uncomfortable it would be, cause you would be dragging around an extra burden that wasn’t meant to be there. That is exactly what it looks like to be a complainer. Unfortunately, the more you complain, due to life being life there will always be a new reason around the corner, the heavier the ankle weights weighing you down become. I personally think this would be emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, financially, and every other -ally available out there, draining; how slow would it be moving forward when you have managed to gather 25kg weights on each ankle.
One thing complaining is great at is keeping you stagnant. The relationship you cultivate with complaining can keep you in the same spot, not going forward or even backwards – it sure did for me. The most significant period where I wasn’t growing in any area (physical growth kinda stopped at 18, but nothing to do with complaining) was 2018 into 2019. I had sooo much weighing me down and I was in a long term blossoming relationship with complaining.
Another thing is, with negative unnecessary weight, our brains understand that this isn’t normal, our brains feel this discomfort, we obviously may want to lighten the burden by whatever means but sometimes do so by dropping the wrong things. So for instance someone complaining about their finances may think dropping fellowshipping to pick up more shifts is a great idea or someone who is overweight may stop eating healthy and eat like only broccoli. Sometimes, we end up swapping the baggage for something worse and heavier. For me, for instance, I think I swapped mine at some point for self-esteem issues and self-sabotage (more to come on this). Complaining about my circumstance definitely rid me of a lot of joy, it rid me of the opportunity to embrace my experience earlier and learn. So in my case, one of the major things I complained about, my Speckles, my mindset didn’t improve for over a year. That’s at least 365 days of having negative thoughts, and complaining about my skin, like it would change due to a stronger bond with complaining. It didn’t improve anything.
With the amount of complaining I did, it’s a good thing God doesn’t get tired of us. Yes, I was angry and my anger was probably justified to a certain degree; I had come to the realisation that my skin would probably never look the same, and I had lost the one thing I clung onto for dear life, CONTROL. I’d lost control over what my skin could do, how my skin could look, in the blink of an eye. For an overthinker, lack of control can feel like a personal hell and I 100% did not spare a minute complaining. Times when I wasn’t complaining, I was probably eating, or sleeping (I probs complained in my dreams). Not one single second of complaining made my speckles lighter, neither did it bring even a sprinkle of peace to my tired heart but instead added weight to my mind by about 1000 pounds (not money just heaviness).
Complaining is a waste of mental resources. You are using time, energy, headspace and I’m to complain about something. When instead you could be using that same time, energy, headspace and vim to just DEAL WITH THE DAMN THING! Find a solution tailored to the thing in question.
The bible is sooo intentional when it says ;
1Pet 5:7 says 'pour out all your worries and stress upon Him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you (TPT)'.
Phil 2:14 says 'do everything without complaining or arguing (GNT)',
It says ‘everything’… that’s a lot of things without complaining, and I can’t speak for anyone else but that can be VERY hard to do. Like life has its way of glamorising complaints; it has a way of fostering a relationship with complaints, so it takes a lot of intentionality to not dwell, or complain about things. You would need to literally be on check, and tell your mind, that we are not going to complain about this. One thing that makes complaining harder to get rid of even the slightest, is that it doesn’t have to be vocalised. You could complain from now till tomorrow in your head with your thinking, not saying a word and even with your face. Guys, my face betrays me but I’m a work in progress. To everyone else, you don’t complain about anything, whereas you and definitely God know the wiser.
I have two different approaches on how to break up from complaining. The approach that one decides to take is based on a few personal evaluations:
- What it is that you are complaining about
- Is this complaining even rational
- Is this something within my power to change
- Have I tried to see God’s hand in the situation or sought His opinion
- Will changing this thing my way, mean I am taking control of your life from God.
For example, a season of being overweight vs a season of being in waiting, are two things we can complain about, but cannot approach in the same way. The way you would approach being overweight cannot be the same way you would approach being in a season of waiting.
My first approach to dealing with a complaining mentality is very short, easy and straightforward.
- Do something.
- Don’t dwell.
That’s litch it!
Something does not have a specific definition, and for good reason. There is no need to box the possibilities of things we could do to change our circumstances, it wouldn’t be fair on ourselves, as long as it is fitted to what you were complaining about. So for my previous example, it wouldn’t make sense for someone who is complaining about being overweight to go buy a car, instead of a gym membership, or a diet plan, or a lifestyle change. Buying a car would be a solution to a different complaining scenario, like complaining about travelling distance, or the weather. So be intentional and honest with your strengths and weaknesses and what it is you are trying to change. If it is something within your power to change I would say be honest about what you can do. Don’t overemphasise or overestimate your strengths or downplay your weaknesses.
Be specific and make smart plans. Make plans that are measurable, can be timed and accurate. Praying about it is doing something, by the way, it should actually be your first response, then seeking help or whatever else is applicable. Yes even in an overweight scenario, I’ll still say pray first but don’t stop there, that’s my take on everything, pray first and then do what is within your human power, and take practical steps.
This is probably one Ex that isn’t fully an ex yet. I, unfortunately, have an on and off relationship with complaining. Sometimes I’m complaining without even realising I’ve started, and sometimes I’m a bit better and stop myself as quickly as I started. Pretty much good days bad days. One thing I’ve learnt that helps me is not to dwell, if I am going to complain, let it be meaningful and not escalated. So don’t start complaining about thing A, then thing B, C D and now you are on thing Z, I’ve made it spiral, when it was just one little complaint, it’s gone 0-100. One good example is what happens when couples argue and one minute my gender is complaining, saying you did this yesterday, and you did this last week, and didn’t do this last month, it escalated sooo much, it scaled from one little complaint to everything the guy has ever done in the entire relationship. God bless my gender!
What I try to do when I do complain is evaluate with the questions from before, say it to God in prayer instead of just complaining and move on, either by taking approach one or approach two. If I have to do that for the same thing, over and over, I do that for the same thing over and over for the same over and over again. I’ve learnt that this helps me, I’m just in the process of actually sticking to the plan. Ya girl is coming short.
For my second approach to complaining, I don’t have a catchy instruction, but ill try and explain. So this would be what would work for someone in the waiting season!
I think that complaining comes from the mindset that something is wrong, or something should be different. Now I’m not saying that something can’t be wrong but think with me for a moment. I had a thought process, that gave me soo much peace. Now constantly complaining was starting to become second nature, and honestly, I still have slight moments I’m not entirely proud of. I’d complained severally because I was of the mindset that something was wrong. That something was wrong with my skin, that something is wrong with my Job, my mind, my finances, my life as it is… but let me expose the flaw in this mindset. For something to be wrong, it means there is a right version in contrast. Wrong technically only exist because right exists. So it would mean that I am of the assumption that there is a right version of me that exists somewhere. So a version of me that had a completely different life and in a different season in 2022.
Now the only person that knows the version of me that should be present on planet earth right here, right now, is God. For some reason though, I am playing God, and assuming I somehow know what the right version should be, and that it definitely isn’t this. This isn’t the right version so I have to complain about it. Do we see the flaw in this? I’m really hoping that we can see the flaw in this mindset. So back to the thought process that gave me sooo much peace.
What if this version of me, now it’s a big what-if, but it’s a what-if that calms my spirit and soul, so I’ll go with it. What if this version of me, in this waiting season, 23 and speckled; this version that I am not always content with; this version I am somehow always finding a new reason to complain about is the only version that God wants to show up in 2022, at age 23. What if everything I have been through and will still go through was to make room for this particular version of me that falls right into God’s plans and agenda. That bigger picture that I couldn’t see even if I got laser surgery. What if this version of me is exactly right, and otherwise, or an alternate version that had a different reality, would be wrong and out of God’s plan.
I think because we, well me, I have my mind set on a picture so when it doesn’t look like the picture, it becomes wrong to me and I complain, but when you deep that my picture should be whatever God’s plan is, and because i don’t see that bigger picture, so why am I complaining when I don’t even know what I should be right now. Let me give a quick example, imagine if God has destined someone to open an orphanage, or adopt several kids when they reach age 40, but at age 20 all their friends and family seem to be popping babies and forcing her to babysit for free. Now to the 20-year-old version, that whole scenario of having to look after kids, that she didn’t birth, day in and day out would seem totally wrong, and would totally be justified to complain day in and day out. In reality tho, that scenario at age 20, albeit it looks wrong, it is the exact scenario she needs to be in to fulfil God’s plans for her life. Instead of complaining her response should actually be what the bible says in 1Thes 5:18
'be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus (GNT)',
Not to sugarcoat it tho, it isn’t easy, because all she can see is whatever her circumstance is at version 20-year-old, not the knowledge that version 40 year old would have. It’s a good thing that we have a God that isn’t scared of our questions, cause we can ask Him whenever we are ready. We can ask Him if this version that shows up every day, this version that He gives breath to every morning is the right version for right here right now. I do think if you are going to ask God that question, be open to getting an answer you don’t want. Don’t go in already having the answer you want in your mind, or expecting one type of answer. You shouldn’t ask God for an answer and then fight God or be angry at the answer he chooses to give, be open to whatever He says. It’s also a good thing we have a God that answers prayers, cause I cannot count the number of times I have prayed to live in God’s will. Unfortunately, I have somehow lacked faith in believing that how my life is right here, right now, and what I see has to be God’s will. Just because it doesn’t look like I would’ve orchestrated it, I have just kind of lacked the faith that this must be God’s plan. Again, only what I can see, there is soo much I cant see!
I was ruminating over this newly found mindset, and yes it is a what-if, but it is a what-if that when you deep it, it puts you in a place where you are not complaining, or comparing, in a place where you are surrendered to God, in the Right here, right now. This newly found mindset exposes one of the biggest lies of the enemy to make us feel like we are missing out on something, or there is better outside of what has been allotted to us.
A prime example is Eve in the bible and the interactions with the serpent.
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it... Genesis 3:4-6 NLT
One thing my pastor said, Eve wasn’t deceived. I think Eve saw, assessed the situation and chose. She knew what she wanted, she felt there was better on that side, I want that. All the enemy did was present it to her, and she made her choice. To be honest, I go could on and on, but I am hoping you get the message.
From my point before about a place for improving things, I do not think you need to actively complain about something for you to want to improve it. Change is a constant part of life, and wanting something to change for the better doesn’t always have to stem from complaining. To summarise, try not to complain, but if you will, do something, not just complain. Make sure what you choose to do make sense, there is no point in wasting time complaining. Also, if you must, if for some reason you must complain, we never know, only complain about things that you can actually change or improve. Not things that are outside your jurisdiction, or out of your job description as a human being and definitely don’t complain about things that should be left to God to decide how it should fall into place. You complaining about something isn’t going to make God hurry up to bring His plans to fruition.
For myself, Faith, Right HERE, with all my flaws, and whatever else seems or looks dysfunctional, I am trying my best to make the most of what I’ve been given, not complain about it or take shortcuts. Listen back to the last blog post, if you haven’t.
I hope this has made sense about complaining and the two different approaches. The one where you do something and make a change, and the other when you rest in knowing that this is where God wants you to be, and be content in that.