In the spirit of true confessions, I’ve noticed in myself lately a propensity to engage in an endless stream of whining and complaining. I’m complaining about this coach and that player (I know…first world problems); what my boss thinks; what my company does; what my staff didn’t do; what people did or didn’t do according to what they said they would do etc., etc., etc. As we often say as a family insider joke, “Bitch and moan, bitch and moan, whine, whine, whine!” While in that moment of time whining and complaining seems to make me feel better, at the end of the day it doesn’t change a blessed thing. It seems to serve only as a rehearsal of all of the things in the world that didn’t go as I thought they should go, because after all, I am the supreme ruler of the universe, right?
Where did we ever get this notion that all of life should fit into our tidy, little plans and that any deviation from those plans represents a “slap in our spoiled, little faces?” It seems to be a condition that is fairly unique to Americans. We are so used to our high standard of living and ease of access to many of the comforts in life that we seem to forget that life really doesn’t work that way. I mean come on, we have to make ourselves stop eating; the temperature has to be between 70-72 degrees; we sit in artificially lit homes typing on computers and God help us if the Internet goes out. (Again…first world problems) And while I’m so grateful to God that we get to live the way we do, I still can’t help but recognize an unrealistic slant in our expectations.
Real life, much like every good story that was ever written, has a protagonist and an antagonist. One is working for the good and one is opposing the good. Our great God never, ever promised that life would be completely free of struggles. Where on earth did we get that idea? For every good you encounter there is an opposing force that is either trying to take away your good or bring some bad to counteract the good. Now that doesn’t mean, as many philosophers report, that you have to accept the bad or get along with the bad or embrace the bad, no, not at all! But it does mean that you have to take life as it is. What is, is and whining about it doesn’t change a thing, except you…
Have you ever met someone who sees themselves as a victim? (Well, if we are honest, all of us have been victimized at one time or another. Helloooo, there is an opposing force working against us!) The victim is not just one that has been hurt in life, but is one that would rather carry that “past” hurt into every current situation. I recently watched an Oprah Life Class about men that didn’t grow up with their father. It was very sad and very touching, for sure. But one thing they had in common were the stories they kept telling themselves about how life would have been or who they would have been if their father was around… Those stories were really just fantasies they kept telling themselves in light of the hurt they received when Pops left. Iyanla aptly pointed out that their romantic notions about daddy were just stories and that they had no real way to know how things would have been. What they were doing unknowingly was participating in life as a victim. A victim, by nature, has no say about how life turns out. After all, how could they after such and such happened? Here is a reality check ~ your life is what it is, right now in this moment. And, the only one carrying that hurt and pain into your present life is you (and me)! Being a victim, like being a whiner only serves to keep you held down in bondage ~ as if you have no say about how your life turns out. If that opposing force hurt you bad in the past (and that’s not to minimize the hurt you felt) ~ then allowing it to remain in your mind today is just as if it is happening all over again. And we wonder why we can still be frustrated in life despite all of our creature comforts?
God has designed life to be glorious and wonderful and ripe with victory, but never said you wouldn’t have any struggles. He doesn’t provide those struggles (God I wish people would stop saying that) but He will always provide a solution to those struggles if you are willing to hear Him! You see once we start complaining, we stop moving forward towards the solution! And related, if we have adopted a “victim” mindset, we are, for all intents and purposes, stuck back thereeeee… A better approach to life would be to accept the reality that things don’t always go how we planned and to either make a back up plan or at minimum be willing to change course as the obstacles happen. Our destination shouldn’t change, but we have to at least be willing to take a different course. Why keep banging our heads on a door that won’t open when we can take a step back, think, and find another door?
In the Dale Carnegie courses I taught, the first rule was to “never criticize, condemn or complain (the three golden C’s)! (Yeah, I forgot that!) Complaining, whining and playing the victim simply means that we have bought the lie ~ the lie being that there is nothing we can do about the situation. With God behind us, there is always something we can do about the situation. You and I are only in charge of one life, ours… Make the decision today to stop complaining (you may be shocked by how much you do it) and instead focus immediately on the solutions. Oh and if you are watching the playoffs and your team is losing, quit complaining about the coach; the players and the refs, and simply sit back and remember the team that believes to win, wins, despite any obstacles!
Win in life…