Bark Less

wag more, bark less

One of the advantages of living in a large family is having a sibling (or multiple siblings) who has (have) similar tastes.  It is interesting that they usually also have the same faults you do — and these faults really annoy you.  Funny how easy it is to point out a sibling in sin but brush off your own sin (usually the same sin) as nothing.

As you may have guessed from the picture, today’s post is about complaining.  When my siblings go around complaining and whining it drives me crazy.  But I started listening to the words I was saying — and boy did I/do I have a complaining issue.   I thought my siblings were bad.  But who do you think taught them how to complain?  I did!  By being a bad example to them.

When I should be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to become angry I’ve been quick to speak up (and complain/whine), slow to listen, and quick to become angry. (James 1:19)  The root sin is selfishness and a lack of trust and faith in God.  When small (or big) things in life go ‘wrong’ (not the way I planned them) I should pray and rely on God instead of immediately losing heart and piping up about everything I don’t like about the situation.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I am one of those plan-everything-in-advance types of people.  Problems arise when I become so set on my plans that I forget:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

Each year my grandparents take my family on vacation (except the year the twins were born).  We have gone to a certain resort for the past four or five years.  One of my favorite activities to do there is to go air-gun/nerf-ball shooting.  As I’ve told several friends, “It’s the only place you can legally ‘shoot’ strangers, your parents, and your siblings.”  It is really fun. 🙂  I probably over think the shooting… but I hit almost everyone I aim at.  My dad is also a good shot (though he is a bigger target than I am).

We walked to the playhouse and saw a new sign.  “Children 12 and under and their parents.”  I about cried… :p  I figured God had a reason for it, but I was still greatly disappointed.  My mom let me go in as a guardian to my 2 year old brother.  I enjoyed helping him (and some other young children) collect and then shoot the soft nerf balls.  I spent valuable time helping my brother rather than selfishly spending it all on myself.  It was a good time and I even practiced some Russian verb conjugation on my handy kindle sized white board that goes everywhere with me.

The next experience I had (one that ties in better with this post) was at river and its beach.  When you hear the word “beach” what pictures come to mind?  Palm trees?  Beautiful sunsets?  Soft white sand?  Cool rhythmic waves?

When I hear the word “beach” I think of sharp rocks, scorching sun, cold salty water, and creepy clingy seaweed.  Needless to say, when I heard we were going to a beach I began to gripe.  Of course I went, because it was a family outing.  But I packed a bag full of things to do (choir music to practice, an art book to draw in, a white board to write on, a book to read, a Russian textbook to study, etc.).

We arrived at the beach around 9:45 am.  It was already quite hot so I decided to put on my swimsuit.  It was too hot to stay out of the water so I slowly waded in.  Low and behold there were no dreaded strands of seaweed to be seen and no sharp rocks to cut my feet on.  Sure, the sun was blazing and the water was cloudy.  It felt so good to be in the lake.  My cousins, aunt, grandfather and I played keep away with a water football.  It was really fun and my goggles were put to good use several times.  I ended up being the last person out of the lake that day.  It taught me several valuable lessons.  First, that complaining is a waste of breath and focuses my thoughts on myself.  Instead of being thankful for what I have I think about all that I don’t have.  Secondly, God can and will work through whatever situation I am in.  He is always in control and who could I trust my life to more??

Next time you face the temptation to complain, pray to God and tell Him you submit to His plans and then thank Him for all the people, experiences, and things He has given you beginning with His son, Jesus.

There is no 3-step formula to quit complaining, but with the Holy Spirits help, you can grow and change the root sin of selfishness.

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