Where To Take Your Complaints

Knowing where to take your complaints is the difference between frustration and peace.

It all started with a box of dishwasher detergent. We bought a new box of the stuff and soon began noticing a change in our dishes. I grumbled to my husband that our brightly colored plastic tumblers were no longer brightly colored. Instead they looked like the surface had been etched. I thought perhaps the formula of the offending detergent was too high in abrasives.

I called the company to complain, hoping that I would not only get my money back for the offending detergent, but also for my ruined glasses. (Never mind that these plastic tumblers were almost twenty years old. It was the principle of the thing.)

The pleasant customer service representative asked that I send a sample of the detergent to the manufacturer along with some of the tumblers. I was certain that the company would acknowledge the problem and send us money to buy new glasses. However, what we received back in the mail was our own cardboard box with the old tumblers in them. Only now they were as vivid as before the problem detergent. Inside the box was an explanation that the company had not found the tumblers to be scratched, merely coated with a soap scum. They had soaked the dishes in a mildly acidic solution and the gray film was now removed. I felt a little silly for complaining about soap scum, but I was glad to have the problem solved even if I didn’t get my twenty-year-old tumblers replaced for free.

Simply griping about the lousy new dish detergent to my husband did nothing to fix the problem. But complaining to the manufacturer did. I needed to take my complaints to the right person.

King David knew this as well. He wrote in Psalm 142:

With my voice I cry out to the LORD;

with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.

I pour out my complaint before him;

I tell my trouble before him. (v. 1-2)

“Now wait a minute!” I can hear you say. “King David, a man after God’s own heart, was complaining? I thought Christians weren’t supposed to grumble!

 Here’s what I think. God is definitely displeased when we complain about our lives “behind His back,” effectively displaying displeasure with His provision and grace. But if we come to Him directly and pour out our concerns honestly, He can reassure us of His love and goodness.

Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira writes in her book, Grumble Hallelujah,

 “Grieving, shedding tears, emptying ourselves of hurt seems to clear up room for God to work.” 

When I feel like complaining, I now try to go straight to the Manufacturer. I “pour out my complaint before the Lord.” I lay out all my feelings, my gripes, my sadness.

But I do it with the knowledge that God can do something about it. He can change the situation, fix the problem, or simply comfort my soul. Pouring out my complaint makes room for God’s consolation and reassurance.

Look at the end of Psalm 142:

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! (v. 7)

Being a chronic complainer can leave you in a prison of discontent. But pouring out your complaints before God with the expectation that He is going to do something wonderful frees your spirit.

So take your complaints straight to the Manufacturer and watch Him work!

Question: What do you do when you feel like complaining?

 This article was adapted from my book, Bless These Lips. Bless These Lips

3 Positive Side-Effects of Giving Up Grumbling

SIDE-EFFECTS

Complaining seems to be a national pastime. We moan when the weather is lousy. We grumble about traffic. We gripe about disappointments.

Why do we do this?

Maybe it’s because complaining garners sympathy. Maybe it’s because it feels good to get something off your chest. Maybe it’s because it’s easy conversation–usually everyone else joins in with their own gripes.

Maybe it’s because you’re like me and you think: If I don’t complain, what will I talk about?

But even though it’s easy to grumble, we all know we should give it up.

The apostle Paul wrote:

Do everything without complaining or arguing.

Philippians 2:14

That pretty much covers it, doesn’t it? God commands us to do everything without grumbling.

Gulp.

Fortunately, for those of us who need a little extra incentive, Paul tells us there are positive side-effects to ending our griping sessions. Look at the next verse in Philippians:

“So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe” Philippians 2:15

Paul told the Philippians that there are three positive side-effects to giving up griping:

  1. We will become blameless and pure. Blameless means without fault. When we give up complaining, our lives will not be open to criticism. Pure means our lives will not be a mixture of good and evil. When I use my imagination to see myself through God’s eyes when I’m complaining, I see someone given who has been given the greatest gifts of salvation and life forever in heaven and still complains about the weather. A mixture of good and evil. Without my constant griping, my life is a better reflection of Christ’s purity.
  2. We will be children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation. When we’re complaining we look just like everyone else. If give up our griping we will stand out in a society without faith, without hope. People will recognize we have something special. A friend of mine who became a Christian as an adult said that before she knew Jesus, she didn’t see any benefits to becoming a Christian. She thought Christianity was just following a bunch of rules. She saw that Christians still had problems. She couldn’t figure out why someone would subject themselves to all those rules if they didn’t get any benefits. When things don’t go our way, we have an opportunity to show non-Christians the benefits of being a child of God. Even though we have problems, we also have a Father who goes through them with us. Do our lives demonstrate that truth when we are complaining?
  3. We will shine like stars in the universe. Without complaining, our light will shine brighter, we will be more able to point people to the Light of the world. Complaining will only dim our brightness.

When we abandon the habit of complaining every time something irritates us or someone disappoints us, we can shine a light on the One who is more than willing to give us the grace to face every trial. When we give up grumbling, we exhibit trust in the God who will hold our hand through every rainy day, every bump in the road, every painful disappointment.

 give up grumbling

 

What to Do When Life Disappoints

Our natural reaction to disappointment is to grumble and complain, but there is another way.

What do we do when life disappoints? Our natural reaction is to complain and grumble. We tell our sad story to anyone who will listen.

This is what I tend to do. Especially about the fact that my grandchildren live far away.

I make sure that all of my friends hear about my grandchildren in China—emphasis on China. I smile weakly as I talk about how much I miss them. When others talk about their grown children or grandchildren, I immediately remind them of my sad situation by sighing wistfully, “You are so lucky to have them close by.”

Thankfully, I have very sympathetic friends. They commiserate with me. They say, “Oh it would just kill me to have my kids so far away.” One friend even commented that my husband and I were the poster children (or would that be the poster parents?) for empty-nesters. He said everyone we knew could say, “At least we don’t have it as bad as John and Sharla.” Which made me laugh, but also served to worsen my case of poor-me-syndrome.

When our expectations are not met and we continue to yearn for the unattainable, we also tend to complain to God. All of our prayers start with the word, “Why?” We can’t come up with one good reason that God would have for not answering our prayers and giving us what we want.

When I have a really bad case of poor-me-syndrome, there are certain Bible passages I try to avoid. Passages like:

“Whom have I in heaven but you?  

And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

 but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73: 25-26

I brush over verses like this because I can’t seem to say, “God, there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” I’m ashamed to admit it. I want to be like the psalmist, but it just ain’t happening.

But if I stop avoiding the psalm and look at it a little closer, I notice that the psalmist did not come to those words easily. In the beginning of the psalm he was just like me asking, “Why do other people seem to have it so good?” It isn’t till the end of the psalm that he is able to come to the point of saying, “God is enough.”

And the answer is in the last verse of the psalm. Here he says, “But as for me, it is good to be near God” (verse 28). Being in God’s presence is what changes us.

Let that sink into your heart.

Nothing could be better than being near God.

near God

Question: What do you do when life disappoints?

Top 10 Ways to Get Your Mouth in Trouble

top10mouth

My mouth often gets me in trouble.

I speak before I think things through. I say something without considering the other person’s point of view. I open my mouth before engaging my brain.

Here are my Top Ten Ways to get my mouth in trouble:

  1. Always talk. Never listen.
  2. Interrupt when you have something to say.
  3. Complain loudly about anything and everything.
  4. Talk endlessly about yourself, your kids, your grandkids.
  5. Be sure that everyone knows about your friend’s embarrassing situation.
  6. Speak before you think.
  7. Let your mouth run on automatic when you’re angry.
  8. Make jokes about your spouse.
  9. Nag. Nag. Nag.
  10. Assume you can control your tongue on your own without God’s help.

And here is the Top One Way to prevent my mouth from getting into trouble:

  1. Pray.

When I pray Psalm 19:14, to guide my words and my thoughts. I begin to focus on pleasing my God rather than trying to be witty or funny or sarcastic or right. I am less likely to demand my way and more likely to listen to the other person. I may even try to find opportunities to build up others rather than look for ways to capture attention.

So today, pray with me:

May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

psalm 19-14a

Question: How does praying before you speak change your words?

Where To Take Your Complaints

 complaints

It all started with a box of dishwasher detergent. We bought a new box of the stuff and soon began noticing a change in our dishes. I grumbled to my husband that our brightly colored plastic tumblers were no longer brightly colored. Instead they looked like the surface had been etched. I thought perhaps the formula of the offending detergent was too high in abrasives.

I called the company to complain, hoping that I would not only get my money back for the offending detergent, but also for my ruined glasses. (Never mind that these plastic tumblers were almost twenty years old. It was the principle of the thing.)

The pleasant customer service representative asked that I send a sample of the detergent to the manufacturer along with some of the tumblers. I was certain that the company would acknowledge the problem and send us money to buy new glasses. However, what we received back in the mail was our own cardboard box with the old tumblers in them. Only now they were as vivid as before the problem detergent. Inside the box was an explanation that the company had not found the tumblers to be scratched, merely coated with a soap scum. They had soaked the dishes in a mildly acidic solution and the gray film was now removed. I felt a little silly for complaining about soap scum, but I was glad to have the problem solved even if I didn’t get my twenty-year-old tumblers replaced for free.

Simply griping about the lousy new dish detergent to my husband did nothing to fix the problem. But complaining to the manufacturer did. I needed to take my complaints to the right person.

King David knew this as well. He wrote in Psalm 142:

With my voice I cry out to the LORD;

with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.

I pour out my complaint before him;

I tell my trouble before him. (v. 1-2)

“Now wait a minute!” I can hear you say. “King David, a man after God’s own heart, was complaining? I thought Christians weren’t supposed to grumble!

 Here’s what I think. God is definitely displeased when we complain about our lives “behind His back,” effectively displaying displeasure with His provision and grace. But if we come to Him directly and pour out our concerns honestly, He can reassure us of His love and goodness.

Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira writes in her book, Grumble Hallelujah,

 “Grieving, shedding tears, emptying ourselves of hurt seems to clear up room for God to work.” 

When I feel like complaining, I now try to go straight to the Manufacturer. I “pour out my complaint before the Lord.” I lay out all my feelings, my gripes, my sadness.

But I do it with the knowledge that God can do something about it. He can change the situation, fix the problem, or simply comfort my soul. Pouring out my complaint makes room for God’s consolation and reassurance.

Look at the end of Psalm 142:

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! (v. 7)

Being a chronic complainer can leave you in a prison of discontent. But pouring out your complaints before God with the expectation that He is going to do something wonderful frees your spirit.

So take your complaints straight to the Manufacturer and watch Him work!

Question: What do you do when you feel like complaining?

 

This article was adapted from my book, Bless These Lips.

 

When the Weeds of “More” Choke Out Contentment

gratitude

The weeds in my garden are staging a coup. They are threatening to take over the flowers that are trying to bloom. I need to spend a little time pulling the unwanted plants out and fertilizing the flowers I want to enjoy.

Sometimes my attitudes also need a little weeding. I keep watering the weeds of “more” and allowing them to choke out my contentment.

I already have a rich life and yet I always seem to be wanting more and more.

This past week I was reading the story of Leah and Rachel. These two sisters epitomize the desire for more. From the time they got married to Jacob they each wanted what the other had. Leah wanted the adoring love of her husband that Rachel obviously had and Rachel wanted children. Especially when Leah gave birth multiple times and Rachel’s own cradle was still empty.

When I was reading the story again in Genesis 29 I saw that the sisters’ discontent was more than evident in the names they gave their children.

Leah named her first three boys:

  • Reuben which sounds like the Hebrew for “God has seen my misery.”
  • Simeon, which means “one who hears,” and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, He has given me this son also” (Genesis 29:33).
  • Levi, which sounds like a Hebrew term that means “attached.” Leah said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (Gen. 29:34).

Rachel was no better. She was miserable when she was waiting for a baby while Leah gave birth to six sons, Leah’s servant had two sons, and Rachel’s servant had two baby boys. But when God gave her a child she didn’t give him a name that meant, “Thank you, God.”

Rachel named her first son, the son she had waited years and years for, Joseph–which means–“may he add.” Her first words weren’t, “I praise you God for this wonderful gift of life. They were, “May the Lord add to me another son.”

I was dumbfounded. How could she not even thank God before she asked for more?

Then I realized that I do the same thing. Often when a prayer has been answered, I forget to say, “Thank you.” I don’t pause in gratitude.

Instead, I ask for more. I see the next thing I want and once again am discontent until I get it.

Maybe if Rachel would have taken the time to fully enjoy the blessing of Joseph, she would have been content. Maybe if I would remember to say, “Thank you Lord” the weeds of “more” would be tamed.

Thankfulness yanks at the weeds of discontent. It pulls at the attitude of dissatisfaction and gives peace room to grow.

Gratitude allows contentment to bloom.

Question: What do you do to cultivate an attitude of contentment?

What to Do When Life Disappoints

near God

What do we do when life disappoints? Our natural reaction is to complain and grumble. We tell our sad story to anyone who will listen.

This is what I tend to do. Especially about the fact that my grandchildren live far away.

I make sure that all of my friends hear about my grandchildren in China—emphasis on China. I smile weakly as I talk about how much I miss them. When others talk about their grown children or grandchildren, I immediately remind them of my sad situation by sighing wistfully, “You are so lucky to have them close by.”

Thankfully, I have very sympathetic friends. They commiserate with me. They say, “Oh it would just kill me to have my kids so far away.” One friend even commented that my husband and I were the poster children (or would that be the poster parents?) for empty-nesters. He said everyone we knew could say, “At least we don’t have it as bad as John and Sharla.” Which made me laugh, but also served to worsen my case of poor-me-syndrome.

When our expectations are not met and we continue to yearn for the unattainable, we also tend to complain to God. All of our prayers start with the word, “Why?” We can’t come up with one good reason that God would have for not answering our prayers and giving us what we want.

When I have a really bad case of poor-me-syndrome, there are certain Bible passages I try to avoid. Passages like:

“Whom have I in heaven but you?  

And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

 but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73: 25-26

I brush over verses like this because I can’t seem to say, “God, there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” I’m ashamed to admit it. I want to be like the psalmist, but it just ain’t happening.

But if I stop avoiding the psalm and look at it a little closer, I notice that the psalmist did not come to those words easily. In the beginning of the psalm he was just like me asking, “Why do other people seem to have it so good?” It isn’t till the end of the psalm that he is able to come to the point of saying, “God is enough.”

And the answer is in the last verse of the psalm. Here he says, “But as for me, it is good to be near God” (verse 28). Being in God’s presence is what changes us.

Let that sink into your heart.

Nothing could be better than being near God.

Question: What do you do when life disappoints?

 

Give God Your List: Learning to Trust God with Your Desires

Trust in the Lord

There was a time when I wanted a new house more than anything. It wasn’t that the house we lived in was a hovel. It fact it was a two-story, four-bedroom, two-full-bath residence with a big backyard. The trouble was—it was old. And just a mile away, developers were constructing a brand-new subdivision of luxury homes. Suddenly, all the little flaws in my house were magnified. The windows that were painted shut were infuriating. The floor plan was aggravating. The well water that periodically turned my laundry orange was maddening.

I began to obsess about getting a new house. I lost sleep as I fantasized about a new place to live. I worried about saving money for a down payment. I failed to find anything good about my current home and in the process misplaced any tranquility I might have possessed. My new-house-obsession was causing me a lot of anxiety.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4:

Delight yourself in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart.

A new house was definitely one of the desires of my heart. Every time I tried to open the windows I wished for a new house. Whenever I tried to clean the rust stains off the tub I hoped for a new home. I kept praying that God would answer that desire.

But although I knew verse 4 of Psalm 37 by memory, I had forgotten about verse 3:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

God promises to give me the desires of my heart, but first He asks me to trust Him.

Lately I’ve been finding that when I’m having trouble trusting God, the best thing I can do is be honest with Him. When I’m distracted by things that I want, I can stuff those desires down because they’re not spiritual. I can avoid praying about them because they don’t seem like something God would care about.

But of course, God knows the desires of my heart anyway. So the best thing I can do is bring my whole wish list to Him. Even if the list has things that seem trivial or (gasp!) worldly, when I talk to God about them, He can help me sort them out.

This is more than just asking God to give me everything on the list.

It’s giving Him the list.

It’s trusting that in His love, He will know which of those things are good. It’s having faith that He will answer my prayers when the time is right.

You know, it took me a long time to learn to be content with that old house. But after I decided to trust God to give me what I needed, I learned to see its good points. And a couple of years after that, God blessed our family with a brand new house.

When I tell my gracious heavenly Father that I’m ready to trust Him, that’s when my heart changes. When I give God my desires, that’s when they lose their grip on my soul.

Question: What do you do when you are struggling with trust?

 

How to Like Your Life

I will be in China for a few weeks. Please enjoy this post from March 2012.

Prefer the given.

I read this phrase in the book Grumble Hallelujah a few weeks ago and it has stuck with me.

I loved the sound of it. But I didn’t love the reality of it. If life gives me the equivalent of the small brown mug in the picture below, I complain that I don’t have the large, beautiful, white one.

Pottery: Custom White Mug Comparison

 

There are some things that I would like to change in my life if I could. I would prefer to be able to eat chocolate every day without gaining weight. I would prefer that my book be on the New York Times bestseller list. I would prefer that my grandchildren would live across town instead of half-way around the world.

But I believe God was speaking to me through this phrase. After all, it sounds a lot like Paul’s words in Philippians:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.(Philippians 4:11)

Discontent is wanting something different. And wanting something different is pushing back what God has placed in my life and saying, “No thank you.”

But to be content is to prefer the given. To prefer the given is to accept what is in my life right now with open hands.

When I’m discontent I’m always looking for a way out. I’m searching for something better.

But what if I preferred what God has given? Would my searching mechanism then be busy looking for hidden blessings in the situation? Would I scrutinize the problem for a lesson to be learned? Would I eagerly look for an opportunity to meet God in a new way? 

Prefer the given.

That is the way to truly like your life.

photo credit

 

 

Where to Take Your Complaints

It all started with a box of dishwasher detergent. We bought a new box of the stuff and soon began noticing a change in our dishes. I grumbled to my husband that our brightly colored plastic tumblers were no longer brightly colored. Instead they looked like the surface had been etched. I thought perhaps the formula of the offending detergent was too high in abrasives

I called the company to complain, hoping that I would not only get my money back for the offending detergent, but also for my ruined glasses. (Never mind that these plastic tumblers were almost twenty years old. It was the principle of the thing.)

The pleasant customer service representative asked that I send a sample of the detergent to the manufacturer along with some of the tumblers. I was certain that the company would acknowledge the problem and send us money to buy new glasses. However, what we received back in the mail was our own cardboard box with the old tumblers in them. Only now they were as vivid as before the problem detergent. Inside the box was an explanation that the company had not found the tumblers to be scratched, merely coated with a soap scum. They had soaked the dishes in a mildly acidic solution and the gray film was now removed. I felt a little silly for complaining about soap scum, but I was glad to have the problem solved even if I didn’t get my twenty-year-old tumblers replaced for free.

Simply griping about the lousy new dish detergent to my husband did nothing to fix the problem. But complaining to the manufacturer did. I needed to take my complaints to the right person.

King David knew this as well. He wrote in Psalm 142:

With my voice I cry out to the LORD;
 with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before him;
 I tell my trouble before him. (v. 1-2)

 “Now wait a minute!” I can hear you say. “King David, a man after God’s own heart, was complaining? I thought Christians weren’t supposed to grumble!

Here’s what I think. God is definitely displeased when we complain about our lives “behind His back,” effectively displaying displeasure with His provision and grace. But if we come to Him directly and pour out our concerns honestly, He can reassure us of His love and goodness. 

Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira writes in her book, Grumble Hallelujah,

“Grieving, shedding tears, emptying ourselves of hurt seems to clear up room for God to work.”

When I feel like complaining, I now try to go straight to the Manufacturer. I “pour out my complaint before the Lord.” I lay out all my feelings, my gripes, my sadness.

But I do it with the knowledge that God can do something about it. He can change the situation, fix the problem, or simply comfort my soul. Pouring out my complaint makes room for God’s consolation and reassurance.

Look at the end of Psalm 142:

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! (v. 7)

Being a chronic complainer can leave you in a prison of discontent. But pouring out your complaints before God with the expectation that He is going to do something wonderful frees your spirit.

So take your complaints straight to the Manufacturer and watch Him work!

This article was adapted from my new book, Bless These Lips. Check it out here.

This week my dear friend Lucy is blogging about Bless These Lips and hosting a give away!

Head over here to her blog and leave a comment to win:

  • a signed copy of Bless These Lips
  • a pretty cosmetic bag with lip balm, lip liner, and lipstick
  • a handmade bookmark
  • a $15 Amazon gift card
  • a framed print of a quote from the book “God has given you a unique mission to speak His words of love and grace to a lost and discouraged world.”

And don’t forget! If you buy the book during between September 24 and October 18, I have some thank you gifts for you!

Just send your receipt to my email: sharla@sharlafritz.com

(If you buy online, forward your receipt to me. If you buy it in a bookstore, scan the receipt and email it to me.)

When I get your message I will send you through email:

  • A MP3 of my song “Make Me New” which I recorded for the DVD for my first book, Divine Design
  • My brand-new ebook titled, Lip Service: 11 Simple Ways to Change the World with Your Words
  • A set of pretty cards with the memory verses for Bless These Lips for you to print and use
  • A printable of the quote: “God has given you a unique mission to speak His words of love and grace to a lost and discouraged world.”

Where do you usually take your complaints?

Blessings,

Sharla