When I Think I Deserve Better

complaint-jar

What was the most creative punishment you received as a child? I had a few, but the one that stands out the most to me is The List of Complaints.

When I was a kid, I got into the nasty habit of complaining. One day, my mom got fed up and told me to go write a list of all the things I complained about regularly (I don’t know what she was so upset about, I could only think of a few things to write down ;).

Then came the nasty bit: she made me wear the list around my neck. And she told me I couldn’t take it off, not even when we went to the grocery store! For a little girl whose aim in life was to be invisible, this was a truly mortifying thought.

Thankfully, my mother showed grace and relented, but even the thought of the punishment kept me from complaining. Well, almost.

We all complain from time to time, don’t we? How else are we to be honest when people ask how we’re doing? How else do we ask for prayer? Sometimes, we feel the need to be real with people and we don’t hold back.

And this is acceptable. Complaining is only addressed as an issue when we are told we complain ‘too much’ or ‘about everything.’ But I’m beginning to wonder how much is too much.

In Exodus, when the Israelites are complaining to Moses, he tells them something interesting;

“Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.”

Exodus16:8b

When I read this the other day, it hit me right between the eyes. I’ve been a bit whiny lately because that job I’ve been begging God to provide my husband with is keeping him out of the house a lot. I won’t lie, there’s been a bit of grumbling going on in my heart.

But not a lot. And so long as I don’t complain ‘too much,’ I’m good, right?

I don’t think so. I think that any complaining against God is ‘too much.’

Basically, complaining is telling God that what He has given me is not good enough, and that I don’t think I can trust Him to give me anything better.

When I think of complaining that way, I honestly don’t know how I have the audacity to do it at all.

Do let me be clear on this; when I say complaining, I mean complaining, not crying out to God for help. Crying out as the Psalmist frequently does, comes from a place of humility and the Bible encourages us to beseech the Lord.

My complaints come from a place of entitlement and pride. They are me telling God I deserve better than what He’s giving me.

Complaining also poisons our mood and robs us of our peace and joy.

Obviously, it’s unhealthy to never open up to people and we all need prayer and help. So when does opening up turn into complaining? I’m betting we each know when we go from ‘prayer requests’ to ungrateful whining. I know I certainly do. There’s that soft whisper from the Holy Spirit asking me whether or not He’s enough.

I think when it comes to complaining, there is no sliding scale. It doesn’t matter how often we do it, it’s still wrong. So I’m resolving not to do it anymore, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit of course.

I’m resolving that God is enough for me. That what He gives me is for my good, and what He holds back is for my good. I’m accepting that He owes me nothing and that every breath is a merciful gift. And in the light of that gift, there is no room for complaints.

Who’s with me?

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About Leah Ness

I am a self-professed story addict. Ever since I was little, I've had an overactive imagination and a passion for a well-spun yarn. When I grew up, I was blessed with a passion for God as well. It was then that I noticed a relative shortage of unique Christian fiction, the kind that can both captivate you and glorify God. So, despite the hurdles of things like commas and homonyms, I am endeavoring to write some of my own. Check out my Books page for updates on current and future books. View all posts by Leah Ness

14 responses to “When I Think I Deserve Better

  • Elisha

    This post is perfect timing for me. I have been meaning to write a post about complaining, but wanted to do a social experiment with myself first..let’s just say, I failed my own social experiment. I’ll be posting soon. This was a great post that I think I will link in mine…do you care?

    • Leah Ness

      I’m really glad you found the post helpful =) It’s a subject God’s been speaking to me about for a while. I’d be honored if you linked back to it! Please feel free to do so any time =)

  • Karen Pickering

    I’m with you! I’ve found complaining leads to bitterness. Not attractive.
    This is something I pray about… improve… slip back into again and again. This was a good reminder to shift my focus back to God.

    • Leah Ness

      I know how you feel; I sometimes feel like my Christian ‘walk’ is more of a box-step. ‘Forward. Together. Back. Together.’ I’m so grateful that God has promised to complete the good work He began in me. Thanks for reading =)

  • Joab

    I think about this a lot too. The Jewish people have traditionally been expert complainers, and I’m no exception. But this bothers me from exactly the point of view you put forth here: complaining means that what God has decided to give me isn’t enough. I’m trying to come to grips with that thought and turn it around and think: “This is what God wants for you now. Work through it until you reach the next right place for you.” Anyway, thanks for a most thoughtful post!

    • Leah Ness

      Sometimes it can be so hard to trust that what’s happening is for our good and God’s glory. I was challenged the other day to ask myself the question “Does my attitude prove that I believe in the goodness of God?” Every time I complain, I’m answering that question with a ‘no.’ But God is gracious and forgiving and by His grace I’m getting there. Thank you so much for reading and commenting =)

  • castyourworries

    Your mom had an interesting idea with the complaint necklace! We’ve started working with my daughter as she complains…she puts one rock in a jar each time she complains and flowers when she is obedient without complaining. It’s a process though…b/c I’m much older than her and still working on it! Thanks for your reminder

  • rosesnearrunningwaters

    One year I gave up complaining for Lent and was surprised to find just how easily the smallest complaints creep into everyday conversation! I have tried my best to continue my Lenten promise and try to refrain from complaining as much as possible…easier said than done at times! I recently wrote a post on complaining too. It is something we all find ourselves struggling with from time to time. Great post! God Bless!

    • Leah Ness

      It’s very hard to refrain from complaining when society not only accepts but encourages it. We’re programmed to chase after the newest thing and attain our definition of happiness at all costs. But God calls us to be in the world, not of it. Easier said than done indeed! Thanks for reading, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • 3fourteen

    I was just thinking about this the other day!! On Friday actually. My friend had told me I was complaining and pointed to Philippians 2 which says we are to do everything without complaining. I’ve been complaining about how hot it is. Anyway, the help that was given to me was the way you know whether you’re complaining or not is if it’s based on yourself. So if I say oh dear, it’s so hot! But I’m thinking about the people out in the streets that have no shelter, then it wouldn’t be complaining. God looks at our hearts to see the reason behind each word we utter. So it’s also good not to judge people’s words. Because sometimes, something may come off as a complaint, but the persons heart is in the right place…

    • Leah Ness

      Yep, that’s an excellent point. If we are walking with God, then the Holy Spirit will alert us to complaints. Then we can fix our hearts and, if He is leading us to, gently and lovingly correct those who are complaining to us. But you’re right, we do have to be very careful that we aren’t using our worldly wisdom to try to judge other people’s hearts. Thanks so much for reading and for your insightful comment!

  • Johnc327

    Hey, thanks for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged. eceagkgkdgdg

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