Hi there! Our family is in the middle of a 10 Days Without Complaining challenge, and this post is part of that blog series. Our “gratitude challenge” is a really simple (but very challenging!) way to focus on gratitude in this beautiful Thanksgiving season, and to cultivate a HABIT of gratefulness in our lives and homes. I’d love for you to join the challenge, if you haven’t already! This post has all the details.
Today’s post has been on my heart for a while. If you’ve ever wondered, “Why am I so unhappy?”, maybe an honest look inside MY heart will give you a better perspective of your own.
A few years ago, I bought a copy of the book Lies Women Believe, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. My sister recommended it, and I was curious to discover what I could possibly believe that was wrong. 🙂
As I flipped through the table of contents at the beginning of the book, I was drawn to the chapters about marriage, children, and emotions. However, I considered skipping the first section of the book: “Lies Women Believe about God”.
I can’t think of any lies I could possibly believe about God, I thought. I’ve been a Christian since I was a kid! I’ve been in church my whole life. What kind of lies would I believe about God?
I decided to start at the beginning of the book, like my mama taught me to do… and I didn’t make it very far before running into some serious food for thought.
In her book, Nancy Leigh DeMoss lists six lies we tend to believe about God, and number six nailed me:
God should fix my problems.
This deceptive way of thinking explains why a lot of Christian women are angry, bitter, and frustrated with life. They thought that if they accepted Jesus and went to church and tried to live a ‘good Christian life,’ they wouldn’t have all these problems. Living an obedient life does spare us from many problems that are natural consequences of a life lived apart from God and His ways. But that does not mean that those who follow Christ will be exempt from problems.
“The truth is, life is hard. We live in a fallen world. Even those who have been redeemed live in earthly bodies and have to deal with the realities of temptation, sin (both our own and others’), disease, loss, pain and death…
“We want God to fix our problems. God says instead, ‘I have a purpose for your problems.'”
I thought back to the many times in my life I had questioned God. Become disillusioned and disappointed.
As painful as it was, I had to admit that I had never been a particular happy person, despite my deep desire to discover joy and contentment. Joy always seemed just beyond my grasp.
In that moment, my eyes opened to a truth about myself… and lies I had believed.
Lies that lead to a habit of unhappiness.
A closer inspection of these lies relieved that…
I felt like I deserved more.
More ease and less stress.
More good looks.
Whatever I had never seemed like enough because someone else had more.
I believed that God was supposed to fix my problems.
Change circumstances when they became unpleasant.
Change my husband when he became unpleasant.
Protect my family from disease and danger.
Provide for financial needs (on my terms, please).
Keep me happy, healthy, and comfortable.
After all, I’m a good Christian person. I come from a long line of very good people. We sort of “deserve” these blessings… wouldn’t you agree, Lord?
I remember a phone conversation with my dad at a particularly low point in my life. I was struggling with my health and walking a dark valley of depression. Our infant son’s health issues nearly pushed me over the brink, and I found myself struggling through every day, just trying to keep myself together emotionally.
“Kristy, we don’t grow much on the mountain tops of life,” my dad told me through the phone one cold November day. “The difficult places are where God teaches us and changes us. We don’t like the valleys, but that’s really where we grow.”
I swallowed back hot tears and realized, for the first time, that I’d spent most of my twenty-nine years asking God to give me a lifetime of mountain tops.
In His mercy, He let me hit a breaking point in the valley.
What does all this have to do with happiness? With complaining?
I firmly believe:
Our entitlement mentality in America is probably the biggest enemy of joy and contentment.
When we believe God “owes” us something just for being alive, and that life is supposed to be comfortable, beautiful, and on our terms…
Well, it’s pretty easy to complain and be miserable.
Let me give you a few examples, just in case you can’t think of any on your own:
I’ve complained because I’m not as beautiful as “some people”… I want a million dollar smile. I want to be skinnier, have straighter teeth, prettier hair, a more charismatic personality, manicured nails…
I’ve complained because my home isn’t as perfect as it “should” be. My dishwasher is broken. My bathroom needs remodeled. My garage is a wreck. The rural neighborhood I live in isn’t the greatest. And, while I’m on the subject, I wish we could keep our yard clean… the kids are so messy!
I’ve complained because I get tired of driving a vehicle that isn’t the greatest. Yeah, someone GAVE us a brand new mini van nine years ago, but it needs replaced now. The kids are always leaving their toys and papers everywhere… and don’t even get me started on keeping the car seats clean…
I’ve complained because it seems like other women have better relationships… more free time… nicer clothes… or they just seem happier, so there must be a REASON why they’re smiling and I’m not.
The truth is, unhappiness and complaining comes naturally for the human race. We are “born into trouble”, as Job said.
But we were also born with a free will and a choice. And we exercise that choice every single day.
Despite the messes, the loneliness, the imperfections and limitations of life, the ugly stuff that threatens to gobble up our joy every day, day in and day out… Yes, despite all that we have this thing called choice.
There’s a whole lot in life that I can’t change or control, but t I can control my response to every circumstance in my life.
I can control whether my life is filled with thankfulness and joy, or negativity and complaining.
And all that happens in the now. Today, with its aggravations, interruptions, and imperfections.
Today is when I choose to reject the lies and embrace the truth:
The truth that every day, every breath is a gift from God.
The truth that what I have been given is actually so far beyond what I deserve.
The truth that He has provided everything-
I need to walk in joy today.
Join the 10 Days Without Complaining challenge here.
Find the challenge on Facebook at #10dayswithoutcomplaining.
Download a free Gratitude Challenge printable for your kids right here:
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.