Yowch. That sign just kicks ya right in the gut, huh?

Self revelation is rarely a pretty thing. I had a rather jarring realization the other day about my internal complaint system. Totally malfunctioning. It was kicked all the way up. Running nonstop. You couldn’t see it or hear it, because it was on silent mode, but it was steady vibrating in my pocket.

And, nothing can sustain that maximum level for long, before overheating and blowing out.

Okay, ’nuff with the analogy.

Seriously, though. I have a tendency to internalize discontent, which is not to say I’m some sort of martyr, bearing up under stress. It’s a bad thing to do. It is sneaky, in that it steals the joy and satisfaction of a job well done. It undermines the good things going on in your life.

And it’s so easy to do, complaining in your brain. You look pretty good from the outside. But it’s wrong, just as wrong as griping over a microphone for everybody to hear. What’s inside you never stays there for long- it’s bound to find a way out eventually. Better to deal with it right now, when it’s just a thought, than before it becomes a word in your mouth that you can’t take back. Before your complaining words find innocent targets.

The Bible is clear about complaining. Don’t do it. Not in your mind, not in your heart, and not with your voice.

1 Corinthians 10:10 – And do not grumble, as some of them didand were killed by the destroying angel.

Psalm 106:25 – They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the LORD.

Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Good grief– how far short do I fall of that last one? What percentage of my internal dialogue is edifying and kind? I would be ashamed to hear my voice ringing out loud with some of the things I’ve thought, and that’s not an easy thing to confess.

Consider it this way: do you know somebody who complains all the time? It’s exhausting, isn’t it? You can’t console them, because that’s not what they want to hear. You can’t encourage them, either, it doesn’t even register. And their discontent is infectious, it contaminates the people around them. You never bring them up, and they’ll always bring you down. It’s exasperating and frustrating. I imagine that God must feel that way sometimes when we complain in our spirits- because He certainly hears our thoughts and knows our hearts. Imagine your complaints as a megaphone in His ear. That certainly gives me pause. I don’t want to be that person. I really don’t.

So how do you stop? Well, if you’ve had a lifetime of indulging your inner complain-o-meter, then it’ll be a struggle. But if you want a sweet heart, a gentle spirit- then you’ve got to start by relinquishing your discontent. When you feel that grouchy instinctive response to something- to a bump in your day, an interruption in the middle of your work, to the regular, small irritations of life… just stop. Make today the day that nothing ruffles you. Today is No Complaint Day. Just for today, be the duck the water rolls right off of. Determine to be absolutely unruffled. Loosey-goosey. It’s actually quite liberating. Being unhappy is exhausting work. God is working diligently to bring joy into our lives- Romans 8:28- And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Being discontent means we’re swimming against the current of His outpoured love! It’s not the natural direction for the Christian. We are wearing ourselves out, and don’t even know it. “Go with the flow” has special meaning for Christians. I don’t want to waste precious time flailing about in bitter waters, when I could be sailing in His goodness.

(I really milk those analogies, don’t I? Squeeze every last drop out of ’em.)

Anyway. Besides out right, purposeful rejection of the whiny, complainy voice in your head, you can, and should, pray. Pray that God will help you be happy today, in this moment, in this life with all it’s imperfections and aggravations. Ask Him to give you peace and joy no matter what the circumstances are in your life. And most importantly, ask Him to give you a grateful heart. Thank Him for all He’s done in your life, then try to count those countless blessings. It’s hard to be thankful and to complain at the same time. Try it- it just can’t be done.

It starts small. It starts today. That’s all you have to do, is just this 24 hour period. You can do that, you know you can. Then tomorrow, you do it again. Wash, rinse, and repeat. It’ll get easier, the voice will get smaller, and you’ll feel better. I guarantee it.

Anyway, those are just some thoughts on my mind today. I figured, maybe some of you know what I’m talking about, and might benefit from yet another painful, hard learned, WonderGirl lesson.

Will I ever learn things the easy way? Doesn’t seem likely. Usually takes the big, obvious road signs that say, “STOP SINNING!” Good thing God keeps putting them up all over the place. Ha.

**Photo by Brett Rogers (