Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get sucked into cycles of complaining and comparing. Oooh, boy, is it easy for me to find myself spiraling down a vortex of "They are so much better of than we are..." or "If I could just...cook like her, be fit like her, have the talents she has..." or "Those people think THEY have it tough?? They should see what I have to do!!" ...the list could go on. You get the idea. I find the problem with this cycle is that it consumes me and keeps my attention on what I don't have and what I'm not...instead of cultivate being thankful for what I DO have, and pursuing the purposes of who God has called ME to be.
Right now, the fact of the matter is, there are things in my life that I'm simply not happy with, things I want to change. However, moping and whining and looking at others (and comparing myself to them) are NOT the ways to approach it. In addition to feeding discontent into my own soul, I am sharing all of that misery with everyone who I complain to...or, ya know, minimally all those Facebook friends who have the privilege of reading those whiney, 'poor me' statuses. I do, however, think that scripture tells us that, while we aren't supposed to be characterized as complainers (Do everything without complaining or arguing...Phil. 2:14) it also says that it's okay to, like David, pour out the real, raw, sometimes unhappy contents of our hearts to Him (I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles...Psalm 142:2).
I think the keys to all this are finding balance, and also, finding truth. What are the things that are deep longings...maybe even God-given ones, that are causing me frustration right now? What hurts do I need to not just brush over, but actually deal with? What are the disappointments weighing me down? I don't think we are called to live fake, 'happy-clappy' lives, always smiling when we are in pain, but at the same time, we must find the balance of taking our true heart cries to God, and just having a selfish, discontent heart that wants to whine and complain to get pity or some other self-serving purpose. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a true 'complaint' and just plain 'ol whining, because the two can even seem so similar on the surface.
Sometimes we just need to take a good hard look at ourselves. Is there legitimacy to my complaint...or am I just being a big baby? Can I change something about the circumstance (and am I doing what I need to in order to bring the change) or do I need to wrestle out with God an acceptance of that which I cannot change? I believe part of the key to this process can be found in honest, godly, trustworthy friends who are willing to give us the occasional, needed "kick in the pants". You know...tell it like it is. I need people to say, "Jess, you're blessed, you aren't seeing things correctly"..."You don't seem to be trusting God's plan in this circumstance"...or maybe, the ever-famous (and this HAS been said on MANY occasions to me) "Jess, it's a season...find the good in it!!" I am blessed to have a few of these kind of friends. While I don't always 'like' their 'helpful' advice, I do know that it is well-intended, and most of all...true. They are speaking the truth to me, when I need to hear it...even if it hurts. And believe me, I'm not saying that it makes me 'feel' happy when they call me on the carpet. Sometimes I feel the sting of their words, and sometimes I need to just have my space to process what they've said. Just being honest here...while I know I need it, and appreciate it...it sure ain't always fun!!
But I know that God has these kinds of friends in my life for the purpose of helping me grow, and I love them for it. Again...don't get me wrong...when they say hard things to me, and they do, I usually just want to cry and hide. In fact, sometimes that's exactly what I do. But that's when I am able to get the most real with God and pour out my complaint, my hurt, my disappointment to Him...and His love is like a healing medicine for my aching soul. Granted, sometimes taking medicine doesn't feel all that great either...but we accept it because we know it's best, and it's what we need to be healthy.
So, in my struggles I have a choice...I can choose to isolate, and wallow in my unhealthy soul infections, but that would only lead to death...emotionally, and spiritually...and based on medical studies emerging, even physically...or I can get real with God and others and give them access to my heart. A scary proposal, yes. I want the things I want. I don't like to let go of hurts. I like my 'rights'. But more than all that, I want to be healthy, and walking in God's best for me...so sometimes it takes doing the hard things. However, in the long run, the outcome is surely more attractive that staying in that spin-cycle of complaining and comparing my life to others!! Besides, I'm pretty sure that unbeknownst to each one of us, there is someone, somewhere looking at us, and our lives, and thinking how much better WE have it!!
Hmmm, yeah...that's a really good thing for me to remember!!