Be grateful for what you do have rather than grumbling about what you don't. A good word for us all from Tricia Goyer.
Replace the Grumbles
By Tricia Goyer
My husband John and I decided to invite our large family into a challenge: go one year without grumbling and work to be grateful instead. We picked one year because we knew it would take us that long to work on our attitudes. I quickly realized that to fix our attitudes we had to start with our hearts. And to lead my kids, I needed to start with my heart first.
The hard thing is that grumbling is not only something we naturally lean toward, but our everyday surroundings reinforce this habit as well. Everywhere we look there are messages about needing more or better things.
When the neighbor gets a new bike: "Mom, my bike's old and falling apart."
When an American Girl catalog arrives in the mail: "Why do I have to wait until my birthday? I want this now. It's not fair."
When my teens are hanging out with others at youth group: "I'm the only one without a cell phone/TV in my room [and a dozen other things we don't let them have]. It's so lame."
Worse are messages that my kids themselves aren't enough-not beautiful enough, smart enough, talented enough, cool enough.
Once, when noticing my teen daughter was in a funk, I asked her about it. "Every time I look in the mirror, I see everything wrong with me. I can't see anything right."
Oh, honey, I wanted to tell her. I understand.
That's the heart issue I had to start with first: my discontent. I was always looking for ways to lose ten pounds, have fewer wrinkles, and have more luscious hair. Then there was the issue of trying to do it all: have an amazing career, volunteer for great causes, and raise God-honoring children, all while tending a perfectly designed house and cooking healthy dinners. What happens when that's not possible? We gripe about it - to ourselves and to others. No one seems to expect anything different. They even applaud our unhappiness and dissatisfaction as we "keep it real." Everyone grumbles, right?
Yet when we're turning our gazes at everything we don't have, we forget what we do have. As followers of Christ, we have a relationship with our God who has the power to create anything from nothing (Psalm 33:6-9). We have a God who is always with us, who guides us, and who holds us fast (Psalm 139:7-12). We have a God who loves us and helps us love others (1 John 4:7-8). And we have a God who is faithful to forgive us from our sins (1 John 1:9).
As I considered my own heart - and looked into God's Word - I began to understand even more why grumbling is such a big deal: We are letting small, trivial things distract us from what God has already done for us. Focused on our current wants, we make the same mistake the Israelites did, and miss looking toward our futures with hope and expectancy.
"How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, 'As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: In this wilderness your bodies will fall - every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me,'" (Numbers 14:27-29).
God had amazing things planned for the Israelites, but instead he let a generation fall. And the thing that cast them down was their own grumbles. Their complaints and discontent became their destiny.
On our family's grumble-free journey, change started to happen as I replaced my own grumbling thoughts with thankfulness to God. Instead of grumbling about the messy house, I thanked God for our home and our kids. Instead of grumbling about my extra pounds, I thanked God for my life and health. I also encouraged my family to do the same.
Our lives will never be perfect and we don't have all our wants, but our attitudes are much better. There's a new level of peace in our home. With practice, our minds have gotten out of the grumbling ruts, and we are able to see our lives with new appreciation.
And, yes, breaking free from that underlying discontent in our home has been worth a year of our time. Together we're continuing on the journey to focus our thoughts on God and his goodness ... and not our want of different, better or more.
Tricia Goyer is a wife, homeschooling mom of 10, and bestselling author of 70+ books, including her new release The Grumble-Free Year. The book follows the Goyers as they strive to go complaint-free and discover what it looks like to develop hearts of gratitude. They share their plans, successes, failures, and all the lessons learned along the way, offering not only a front-row seat to the action but also real-life steps for uncovering hearts that are truly thankful. For more information, go to: www.TheGrumbleFreeYear.com.