Don’t even pretend your kids don’t whine. (Or your co-workers or your siblings.)
I used to think this was an isolated issue and that if I just found the right trick, the correct combination of tactics, we could win the battle. This may eventually be true, but I’ve seen too many other exasperated parents fighting the same war to believe I’ve got the corner on anything.
Worse: I’ve seen too many adults on the other side of the battlefield. They’re whining now, too. (Or is it still?)
We’ve tried lots of tactics: taking toys away, giving more chores, claiming we can’t understand them (which is usually true, though sometimes exaggerated) or that the sound makes our ears hurt (which is always true, though the damage is more severe to our nerves). We’ve tried logic and reverse psychology. We’ve alternately agreed with their miserable plights (sarcastically, of course) and sought to show them the error of their perspectives. We’ve even made them quote combat Scripture (You know the ones that speak directly to the problem in the face of the problem.). It all works to varying degrees, though never for very long.
Lately I’ve tried a new approach: wishful thinking. When my kids complain about something in that nails-on-a-chalkboard whine, I respond with what I wish they would say instead.
For example, when I ask Ellie to clean her room, she always comes back with an immediate and laborious “Now-ow-ow?! Do I have to clean it ALL?? Can’t I just make a path?”
My response lately has been something like this:
“Yes, Mom! I would love to clean my room because I know I am a very fortunate girl to have so many toys and such a nice bed! Thank you, Mommy, for giving me such wonderful things to take care of. Thank you for trusting me with this responsibility. Isn’t God good to us?”
It gets my point across without me getting mean or nasty, and the kids usually repeat everything I’ve said, though in some petulant tone. I’m calling it a success.
Or I was, until that Voice came haunting me about my own wishful thinking.
I don’t whine like the kids. I mean, I am an adult and I know to keep certain thoughts and tones inside my head. The problem is that God can see and hear what’s going on inside that head.
So what should I be thinking?
Instead of longing for a bigger backyard, maybe I should praise Him that we have a yard at all.
Instead of secretly envying the friend with the latest clothes, fancy kitchen and new job title, I should praise God for all He has done for her and thank Him that I get to stay home with my family instead of working all day and travelling by myself all over the country.
Instead of wanting more, I should thank Him for what I have.
Instead of adding to the darkness, I want to shine like the stars.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, 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 as you hold out the Word of Life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”
~ Philippians 4:14–16 (NIV)
Your Turn: How do you keep yourself from whining? How do you encourage those around you not to stay positive and thankful?
Sidenote: I planned this post last week, but today Biblegateway.com is featuring this passage as its Verse of the Day. Interesting.