If pouting were an Olympic sport… I’d have won the gold medal a long time ago. I was only a child when I mastered the pout! In fact… my family saw it many times and dubbed it “dime lips”. Anytime I did not get my way out came the big guns – the powerful pout and a few good huffs and puffs. Then came the heavy artillery – complaining!
I was good at whining! It was definitely a talent. And I learned early on in my youth that I could use whining to get my way. I remember many times saying to my dad in the most pitiful voice I could “Daddy – will you wash the greasy pan?” I would lodge into how my stomach hurt, my hands were chapped from the dishwater, I had homework to do… any excuse to get out of finishing my chore. And I would bat my eyelashes and pout until he agreed and dismissed me to go do what I wanted to do!
I spent the majority of my life as a complainer. I liked to gripe especially when I felt like I was being treated unfairly or wasn’t getting what I deserved. I was known in my past to get my feathers ruffled up about some pretty silly things.
Fast forward 20 years, and God sends me into the wilderness just like He does the Israelites. I struggle with infertility. In fact I have so many barriers to getting pregnant, my OB suggested we look into a surrogate. I desperately wanted to be a mother and as the long months passed by slowly but surely I fell into my old patterns. I began to complain. I was completely dissatisfied with my life, and I didn’t heed the warning from Paul in Philippians 2:14 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing”.
See I thought you are not supposed to keep your emotions and thoughts all bottled up inside, so I thought I was being healthy by acknowledging my feelings. As the painful reality began to sink in that I might not get to be a mom, I began to express my anger to anyone who would listen. But what I firmly believe to be true is that my first verbal expression of anger and pain was the exact moment that I unknowingly surrendered myself to the enemy. This was when I became vulnerable and tangled up in such painful, horrible sin.
The action verb complain means to utter expressions of grief, resentment, uneasiness, or pain; to lament, murmur, or find fault. (Webster’s Dictionary) Wow! What a powerful definition! It hit me that complaining is merely breathing life into our sinful ways! In my case… I let my anger and complaining fuel my resentment. I was jealous and bitter to the point that if I laid eyes on a pregnant woman or a new born baby, I would lose it! The other truth was that my complaining and constant griping led to me saying horrible things about God. I started to believe He was punishing me. I thought that I must be a bad person and wasn’t worthy of such blessing. I felt like God was rejecting me, and I became really sad and depressed.
God needed to teach me to stop complaining. He needed me to see that He was working in my life, and if I would simply focus on Him and all the blessings I had received, I would be rewarded with a child. I needed to learn how to effectively pray, to hand over the reigns of my life to God and to learn the difference between crying out for help and merely complaining. God was waiting on me to realize the error of my ways before He would pave the way for me to move into the season of motherhood. I was stuck in my winter of discontent for three years!
What I finally learned was that God wants us as Christians to rejoice with those who rejoice. Instead of acting like a sour puss every time I heard the news of a friend’s pregnancy, I realized that I should be happy for them. When our brothers and sisters in Christ receive a victory, we should be expressing joy and celebrating. While I got this in my head… it took awhile for my heart to catch up. But eventually, I threw baby showers instead of dodging them. I sought out lunch dates with my friends with infants and started conversations with them about motherhood. I made a huge effort to stop lamenting about my woes and tried to see a new born for the miracle they truly were! After all… it’s really amazing to think about how hard it really is to get pregnant!
God left me in the wilderness until I learned some important lessons. Like the Israelites… it took longer than it should have for me to get a clue! I was almost 40 before I realized that complaining leads to a disconnect from God and to an appointment with the devil. I am happy to say I did finally reach my promise land… the birth of my daughter is the most important day of my life! And I am amazed that my efforts to birth her led to my rebirth! With a lot of loving help from the Holy Spirit, I was set free. Today I focus on the positive! I do my best to leave the complaints unsaid. I do not give power to my fears, and I fight against the emergence of jealousy, blame and resentment. I work on quickly ridding my anger. I do my best to manage my expectations, and I keep my eyes focused on the blessings of the Lord.