“I think you just like to complain,” my husband declared to me.
The fiery arrow whistled through the air and straight into the center of my heart. Life blood gushed, releasing with it angry venom. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I wanted to spew words back that would feel painful, but only weak words formed in my mind: I do not.
Have you been here too?
Maybe God brought Solomon’s wisdom to my husband’s mind:
It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman. (Proverbs 21:19)
My wound was deep; not just from an introspective evaluation, but also because I didn’t feel that my concerns were heard. After all, I was trying to fix something that, from my high-justice vantage point, was wrong. Complaining justified, right?
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
I softly and self-righteously responded, “Well, maybe I do.”
Then silence, as I pouted and invited every thought to my private pity party. Hiding alone in a quiet place, tears ran down my face. I cried out to God for a verse to tell me that I was right, and He was going to exact vengeance. And God answered!
Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused (Numbers 11:1)
“You’re right, God. But couldn’t he have delivered that news better? Couldn’t he have understood what I was complaining about? Please remove this pain from my heart. Return a smile to my face and joy to my spirit. Please hurry. The pain is more than I can bear.”
I thumbed through the Bible searching for relief. And God gave it to me:
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; (Ecclesiastes 3:3-4)
Well, God did not provide the instant relief I was seeking. Instead, it was more like: “wait to see the wonderful things I’m teaching you now.” I was not into learning right at this moment. Just respite from pain.
In Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts (a gem that should be read at least annually), she identifies complaining as a root of ingratitude.
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)
Regardless of whether my concerns were understood or not, sadly, the point remains—I am a complainer. Sometimes I compare myself to the Israelites: God does miracles and provides, but it’s not enough. If only I had…, then I would be happy. I bought into the enemy’s lies that whisper, “What you have isn’t enough. You deserve more. You are entitled you know.”
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Can I say this wound is suddenly healed this morning? No. I’m soul searching; digging deep for all the roots of complaining. I don’t want to slap a sorry-about-that-bandage on this wound and then revisit this painful issue again.
As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time for everything. This morning I’m hiding—not alone, but in God’s arms of forgiveness. I bring a repentant, thankful heart eager for a time of healing and change.
My husband is wise. He is gentle and kind. Sometimes, he is the tough love that I need. He is brave enough to say what needs to be said—what a gift from God!
Father, it is so hard to hear negative words about myself. It is also hard to be thankful especially in the middle of a wounded spirit. But it is worse to arouse Your anger; You have heaped many blessings upon me throughout my life. Thank you especially for my husband who loves me enough to deliver your message. Please forgive my complaining. Please revive my spirit of gratitude to You. Put a guard on my mouth and thoughts so I will focus on the things that are excellent and praise worthy.