Recently I realized that I was hearing a considerable amount of what sounded like grumbling coming from one of my children. There were statements like, “I am soooo tired. I am very, veeery, veeeery hot. I am extremmmmely hungry.” You can tell that there was quite a bit of emotion included with the words that were spoken. These could be construed as simply statements of fact, but even if they were, they were certainly emotional and exaggerated. Put together and coming frequently from one person, it had become a complaining spirit, and I found my own spirits sagging as I was exposed to this continual drip, drip, dripping of negative words.
Of course, I spoke to this child about the words that were being spoken and encouraged that child in a different direction with thoughts and words. However, it wasn’t long after that conversation took place that I heard myself saying, “I am sure stiff and sore from yesterday’s workout.” The Lord quickly prompted me that my words sounded quite similar to the child’s words that were troubling me. Before too much more time went by, I heard myself thinking, “I don’t like having the Mom’s Corner still unfinished hanging over my head.” Again, that conviction of the Holy Spirit was there pointing out my thoughts and comparing them to my child’s.
What does Scripture say about murmuring, grumbling, or complaining? Let’s start with Philippians 2:14, which says, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, we learn that the Greek word for murmurings means “a secret displeasure not openly avowed.” We are to do everything without thinking, let alone speaking, those negative words that might be associated with what we are doing.
Philippians 2:14 isn’t the only place where we are encouraged not to be grumblers. 1 Corinthians 10:10 gives us a similar admonishment related to the complaining of the Israelites in the wilderness: “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” This time the Greek word for murmur means “to murmur, mutter, grumble, say anything against in a low tone, of those who discontentedly complain.”
It seems to me that we quite quickly and easily fall into patterns of grumbling. It all starts with our thoughts and moves to our spoken words. The baby starts crying when I am trying to make dinner, and I think, “Oh no, how will I juggle the baby and dinner. I am too tired to have to deal with this.” Two children are squabbling over a toy, and I find this going on in my mind: “I just wish I could have some peace and quiet for a change.” Maybe the air conditioning is broken in the car, and I am out on a hot summer day doing the grocery shopping. These words are likely to be expressed: “I sure dislike the heat and sweating.”
I found that as I became aware of the grumbling of others in the family, the Lord brought me back to my own negative words. As I began choosing not to complain, I was quite surprised at how often the words I was going to say would have a pessimistic bent to them. So it is quite likely that if I am grumbling, my children will be picking up those habits from me.
If we aren’t to murmur, then what are we to say? After all, it is sometimes hot, I might be tired, and there isn’t peace when two children are bickering. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I love this verse. It is clear and concise, giving us direction not only for our thoughts and words but also for walking in the will of God. Instead of complaining, I give thanks.
When it is hot with no air conditioning in the car on grocery shopping day, I say, “Thank You, Lord Jesus, for a car to get us to the grocery store. I am so grateful for the availability of convenient shopping, and Your provision that allows us to have the food we need plus other food that we want.” If I am tired, I am grateful to the Lord for all He has given me to do to fill my days—no boredom in this household! If my children are struggling with finding kind words for each other, I thank the Lord for the opportunities He gives me to disciple them and help them toward His desire for them to have loving hearts.
I think that mommies will have to battle their propensity to allow themselves to have grumbly spirits. The more we think negative thoughts, the more the complaining words flow from our mouths. Look at Proverbs 27:15 with me: “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” What is the sound on a rainy day? Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip. Have you ever had a water faucet that was dripping? When it is finally fixed, it is a great relief. It is the same way with our complaining. The murmuring is annoying at best and depressing at worst. However, once it is stopped, there is that wonderful reprieve that is similar to the feeling after a leaking faucet gets repaired.
There are many reasons to want to change a grumbling heart to a thankful heart. The first reason is that we would really prefer to be positive rather than negative. The next reason might be that it is more enjoyable to live with a person who expresses gratitude than with a murmurer. That means we bless our families when we decide to set aside complaining. We also see ourselves mirrored in our children. If we want them to have happy, thankful spirits, it needs to begin in our lives. Finally, if Scripture tells us not to murmur, but to be thankful, then we are following the Lord Jesus in obedience when we eliminate grumbling for gratitude.
I want to encourage each of us— and I am especially talking to myself—to ask the Lord to point out each negative thought or word. Then cry out to Him for His strength and grace to replace those words with positive ones that express gratefulness and thanksgiving. How much better it is to praise than to murmur. May we be women whose joyful words and attitudes cause others to want to be around us.