I don’t know about you, but all three of these (grumbling, complaining, and bad attitudes) are an occasional reality at our house.
While in America, we dealt with these issues much less than we do now in Africa. I recall a conversation I had not too long ago with my oldest son, in which he confessed that he had been struggling with his attitude–something he said he didn’t feel he had a problem with in America because we had so many distractions. For example, if the overtone of our home was negative, we might put some praise music on a CD while we did our morning work. Our daily chores were a regular part of our routine, but they had a definite beginning and end and we could look forward to some free time when we were done. We had NetFlix on-tap for both education and entertainment. If we were having a rough day, we could jump in the big red van for a trip to the museum or library. Even if we were stuck at home (though we tried to be wise and reasonable about our possessions), the children never lacked something to do. All of these “distractions” have been removed since our arrival in Africa. Couple that with a marked increase in daily labor, and certainly, grumbling, complaining, and bad attitudes should be expected.
In spite of taking advantage of as many “teachable moments” as possible in an effort to encourage the children in a more positive direction, I admit to feeling occasionally discouraged about the lack of progress in this area. It seems that while one child might show some improvement, another falls off the wagon and there are constantly one or two (or more) among our brood who just don’t like the way things are, don’t want to do what they’re told, or can’t get along with someone else in the family. So I hear grumbling and complaining and see those bad attitudes.
But I must confess, I have not been immune to the temptation. Perhaps that’s why we have all struggled so much. I realized in conversation with Isaiah the other day just why I fall prey to grumbling every once in a while–and just like any other character deficiency or sin issue, it’s interesting how that root cause analysis really leads you to repentance. It’s not that the work bothers me or that I’m particularly overwhelmed. Though that is sometimes the case, it’s more often that I fall victim to what I’ve heard called the “Mommy Martyr” syndrome. I feel that I work harder, serve more, and benefit less than most other people in the household. And it just wouldn’t be fair if they didn’t know it. So I sigh while I wash that second sink full of dishes. I mutter under my breath about how if the girls didn’t keep throwing clean clothes on their dusty concrete bedroom floor, I wouldn’t be forced to wash them a second time even though they hadn’t even been worn. I sit the children down for a lecture about how it would be nice if they could notice how I’m doing jobs they normally do, just so they can enjoy a break–and wouldn’t it be nice if, just for once, someone offered to help?
Why? Because I want someone to notice my efforts. Occasionally, some unsolicited help would be nice. Even better, an encouraging word would be so appreciated, given how hard I labor on their behalf. I want that proverbial “pat on the back.” And while it is true that we should encourage and help one another, there is a not-so- fine line between appreciating a positive response to our service and trying to force it upon those around you by making them feel guilty. As I said to Isaiah, cheerful service (“as unto the Lord”) brings us a reward from God, but in seeking praise from men, we have already received our reward in full (see Matthew 6).
I don’t think that all of my grumbling, complaining, and bad attitudes can be attributed to selfish manipulation or a desire for attention. However, when it is, I want to to repent and learn to seek my rest and reward from God. Just one more issue where I’m thankful for God’s grace and in which I want to press on to perfection.
10 thoughts on “Grumbling, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes”
Amen sister. I sometimes stew in a bit of anger. Particularly after I was here a couple of months. The new had worn off and things that seemed like challenges became drudgery. The simple but ample food was just boring. Leaders that would not budge unless I initiated it. Comittments continually delayed. It was discouraging. And of course in my case no one local to vent to. God has used all those things to mold me. I am sure that you and yours are actually growing leaps and bounds. Even a war being won is hard and seemingly lonely until the final victory is realized. I am so confident you are being refines into precious metal. Fro 10 carot to 24. I am reminded of the saying, give me patience and give it to me quick. Lol
Much appreciate your encouragement, Glenn. I have often thought of how the Lord must be refining you…though we don’t keep in regular communication, I know He’s at work and you’re in our frequent prayers. 🙂
Will be keeping you all in prayers. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in such a different environment such as you are. It sounds trying to me. My grumbles these days are because I am so TIRED and still quite ill and disabled, and I feel sorry for myself when I feel I “have” to overdo it because nobody else is pulling their load (and not remembering that I can’t walk!). I would be THRILLED to be able to do all the work myself! 🙂 Pity party–for no reason whatsoever. When WILL I remember to rest in Him always? Someday?
Oh, I could quite easily put myself in your place and I understand the frustration! I’m confident that you will cooperate with God and experience His joy as you allow Him to work all things for good. Praying for you all!
I know it would be better for me if God were to take away my go-to comforts and indulgences, that feed the flesh (like ice cream, or running away for alone time, or wasting time in a movie while lounging on the couch). How much better for the spirit it is when we are not allowed to indulge the flesh! Much of the time I find the will not to pamper myself by catering to my grumbling, depressed spirit and turn my eyes upon Jesus instead, but sometimes, I throw in the towel and run to my physical, fleshly comfort. No wonder the monastery life was so appealing to some! You are blessed, you know, to be where you are. I will be praying for you to reap what you are sowing, both here and eternally.
Removing the indulgences, in and of itself, hasn’t forced us to be content with the way things are. 😉 Calls to mind the words of the Apostle Paul when he said, ” If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” (Colossians 2:20-23)
A. men. I love the simplicity that is in Christ–that is where I try to run! 🙂
You don’t know how much this post blessed me right now. Thank you for turning my attention to the repentence that needs to come when I realize what I’ve done in my Mommy Martyr-ness. Please keep sharing…it’s always greatly appreciated.
I can think of nothing here for $.25 other than a few pieces of gum (double bubble). I can’t wait to get there. Blessings to you all. My wife is looking forward to meeting you in the very near future!
Thanks for sharing. It just made me realize my brothers and sisters are going through the same kind of issues, yet it is encouraging to know that you recognized it and are looking toward Jesus for victory. Stay encouraged.