As followers of Christ, we know that in the end, good always conquers evil. But, let’s face it. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, even for the best of us. Our children frazzle our nerves. Our spouses push our buttons. Our bosses overlook our contributions. Our neighbors make themselves a little too comfortable on our couches. Our dishwashers surrender mid-cycle, and our cars start smoking mid-grocery run. We have plenty to grumble about but most of us would rather stop complaining.
Even amidst our best attempts to remain positive, grounded, and upbeat, life has a way of “happening” to us all. In Galatians 6:9, we’re encouraged not to grow weary of doing good. But, it can be difficult to stay the course when we feel beaten down by our circumstances. God never promises our days will be glitch-free. So, how can we approach those everyday complications with love and truth? Here are four good ideas for how to not just stop complaining but replace it with grace.
Good idea: Book a time to chat with your roommate about his habit of playing music at an ear-splitting decibel into the wee hours of the night. Order some cheese fries, be gentle, and make it clear that you value your friendship.
Bad idea: Make loads of passive-aggressive comments, marinate in your irritation for six weeks, and then in a fit of rage, toss his speakers out the second-story window while he’s in class.
Good idea: Sit down with your entire family after dinner. Express to your children how much it hurts your heart to see them bickering and fighting with each other so frequently. Give them clear examples. Be a united front with your spouse. Offer suggestions to help them coexist and mechanisms to cope with their frustrations toward one another in a healthy way.
Bad idea: Bottle it up. Burst into unexpected, uncontrollable tears on a tumultuous car ride, and vent your frustrations in a way that is hurtful for your children.
Good idea: Calmly explain to your best friend that you felt bummed when they borrowed your car and returned it dirty and empty of gas. Gently work together to find a way back to friendship because that’s more important than a dirty, thirsty car.
Bad idea: Siphon fuel from your friend’s parents’ car and leave a thank-you note with your friend’s name signed on it.
Good idea: Approach your spouse during a quiet moment in their day. Communicate that even though it’s likely not their intention, you feel undervalued when they don’t clean up after themself at home. Kindly explain the things they could do to show you how much they value you.
Bad idea: Maniacally throw their favorite half-full coffee mug onto the tile floor after they leave it on the coffee table for the final time.
All humor aside, let’s remember the mercy of our Savior, and His response to our daily shortcomings. It’s our purpose to be like Christ. So, stop complaining. Instead, let your next moment of frustration or annoyance be an invitation to guide your heart toward Christ-like grace. Moments of irritation are inevitable. Use those opportunities to bounce your thoughts away from the depths of anger and tune your ear to God. He will lead you to replace complaining with a response that’s meaningful, loving, and kind.