In our Leadership Class at our church, we are going through a study called “Vessels of Honor: Growing in Holiness”. We’ve learned about over-coming temptation, the importance of forgiveness, and breaking spiritual and generational bonds. I’ve really enjoyed our class, and have been learning a lot.In this week’s lesson, we learned about the Tongue, and how what we say needs to go through the process of sanctification, just like other parts of our lives. One of the things that really convicted me was the section on complaining.
The study pointed to David, who poured out his heartfelt complaints through the Psalms he wrote. At times, David even seems kind of whiny, doesn’t he? Of course, he was writing while huddled in caves, hiding out from a crazy king with murderous intent, so maybe he had a right to whine!David didn’t hold back or clean up his cries. The Psalms are beloved because they resonate through the years, raw, passionate, real. But, as our study pointed out, David was complaining to God. He had plenty of other folks giving him advice – “this is your chance, kill the king!” but he chose to seek the only perfect Source of advice.
God can handle all of our feelings, all of our words. No one else can. Complaining like that can help draw us closer to God, because He is perfect. Complaining like that to another human, well, that rarely moves us forward. Instead, if can cause all kinds of problems!In the majority of the Psalms, what begins with a complaint ends with praise. It seems as if the very act of bringing his fears, anger, sorrow, complaints, to God, moves David from despondence to hope. How often does that happen when we complain to another person?
During one of the past presidential elections in the U.S., I saw a bumper stick that said, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” The point of the bumper stick was that if you didn’t bother to be involved in the process, you really couldn’t say anything about the result.I’ve changed it for myself. “If I haven’t prayed, I can’t complain.” (It sounds a little better in Spanish, I promise!) The point here is that if I haven’t involved God in the process, I should not go out and complain to another person.
Don’t get me wrong - it’s not necessarily bad to get feedback from trusted friends and mentors, but when I start there, I have actually lost my right to complain.
So, I have committed to bringing my complaints to God first and foremost.I have a feeling that if I truly do so, a lot of the stuff I think I need to complain about will go away. Not through magic, but by allowing the Holy Spirit to conform my thoughts to His, I will begin to see that things I thought wereSO BIG are perhaps not so big after all. Like David, I pray that as I bring my complaints to God first, He will transform the griping into praise.
I also pray that as I choose to get the order right, God will reveal to me the best way to handle the things that remain “big”. There are times when it is necessary and appropriate to bring concerns to others. Typically, though, it’s when I am frustrated and upset. If I first give all of that to God, I pray I will be able to share my complaints in a way that is constructive, not destructive.
None of this is going to be easy, I know! I’m proposing to break a lifetime habit of complaining. I’ll need lots of help, and I know I’ll stumble along the way. But, if I truly desire to be a woman after God’s own heart, vale la pena – it’s worth the pain.
And, I know that the Holy Spirit will help me, if only I will look to Him. I’m thankful, too, to have Carlos in this with me. I’ve asked him to please help me by saying, “Have you talked with God about this?” whenever he hears me start to complain.I’m heading out now to a day of challenges and uncertainty. There will be plenty of opportunity to put my new resolution to the test! I’ve written a reminder on my hand to pray, then, (perhaps!) complain. With God’s help, I can get the order right and help build up for His glory.