My 8-year old daughter has a major problem… she’s a whiner. Not only she grumbles every time I would ask her to clean up after their mess but she also complains during meal time, bath time, nap time—okay you got me, ALL OF THE TIME! So I started complaining myself to my husband on how much of RyRy’s yapping burdens me. Mike being sensible and objective (as always) shuts me up by asking me, “where’d you think she got that from? Do you think somewhere along the line she picked that up from us?” Yep, I zipped my big mouth.
The problem with homeschooling is that there’s no one else to blame but you—the teacher-parent. If your kid says one darn thing during play date, other parents won’t judge the school or classmates because there’s none! All eyes are on you. When a child misbehaves, there’s no better place to investigate than his own home. The same bullet you shoot goes back to you—it ricochets.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Therefore, you change the tree if you want different apples.
I started digging my own soul. Part of me wanted to deny Mike’s accusation, I don’t complain, I’m a woman of action, I solve problems head on! But you know someone powerful up there decided to convict me. Out of nowhere, as I was cleaning, this little black journal of mine appeared like a bunny from a magician’s hat. Ahh, all my complaints from the past decided to haunt me.
A couple of years ago, I read this book Too Busy Not To Pray. One of the suggestions there is to pour your heart out to the Lord in a form of a journal. As days go by, you can look back and read what you have written to see how many of your prayers have been answered. It was this journal. Everyday I wrote about my complaints, my heartaches, my disappointments. I grumbled about a lot of people and circumstances. I grumbled about my husband, my in-laws, my family, my friends, our finances, our food, the maid, the house we live in—even the pollution. I sounded so ungrateful, I despised everything in my life that I totally forgot to look around me and see how much the world is suffering. It was no accident I found that notebook. I know it was time to humble myself and admit defeat.
Going further in my investigation, I have consulted life’s manual: the Bible. Boy oh boy, Moses was a whiner! Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t know anyone else from the Bible who complained and made excuses as much as Moses did.
- Exodus 3:11 Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?
- Exodus 3:13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
- Exodus 4:1 But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?”
- Exodus 5:22 Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me?
Then he made excuses…
- Exodus 4:10 Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.
- Exodus 4:13 But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”
- Exodus 6:12 “But Lord!” Moses objected. “My own people won’t listen to me anymore. How can I expect Pharaoh to listen? I’m such a clumsy speaker!”
- Exodus 6:30 But Moses argued with the Lord, saying, “I can’t do it! I’m such a clumsy speaker! Why should Pharaoh listen to me?”
Somewhere in between complaining and making excuses, God got a little pissed off that He decided to send someone to solve Moses’ problem: his brother Aaron. Even with all his complains and excuses, God answered them all by making everything much easier for him. God laid out all the solutions to his problems, reassuring him that He will take care of the rest and all He’s asking is for Moses to mobilize the plan. But Moses kept finding problems in every solution.
Isn’t there a Moses in all of us? Do we really trust God and His will for us?
When God presents us a situation, say a job opportunity, are we quick to jump right into it? Do our part by researching and acing the interview? Or are we quick to doubt and ask questions such as: is this company legit? Am I really qualified? What if they ask me to do something I’m not very good at? What if my boss dislikes me? What if the pay isn’t what I expect it to be? What if travel time is an issue? What if these doubts are the only ones hindering us to advance in this life?
I am not going to wash my hands clean. Not long ago, in fact, it was just this year that I learned to let go of my worries and fears. My husband and few of my closest friends know this about me: I am a major worrier. I freak out easily especially when it comes to money. I burden myself with our financial problems, always thinking if I should get a job again or pursue starting a business even though I’m not that confident. I am constantly exhausting myself on the idea that I should provide for my family when in fact the man up there is the one in charge in not letting us starve—and technically, in the Bible, it’s Mike’s role to toil in labor. All I have to do is to be a good steward.
What changed? My attitude in prayer. I started lifting everything up to God asking Him to give me a peaceful life. I asked Him to lead me, my husband, direct us to the path where He wants us to be. As my friend once told me, where He leads, He provides.
I remember eating at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants for our anniversary last July. As Mike and I excitingly devoured our favorite maki, he suddenly bit a small piece of ceramic inside one of the rolls. Now I know this might sound like a complaint is about to happen but I swear it did not feel like one to me. I doubted myself and even asked Mike if I should call the restaurant’s attention or should we just let it go because I don’t really want to make a scene or make them think I am demanding excessively. I only wanted for them to be aware of the incident thinking the ceramic may have made it’s way to other food and not just in ours—they deserved to know. I called the waiter and told him about our concern in a very soft and polite way. If this was the old me, I would have raised an eyebrow, rolled my eyes, and raised my tone. But I chose to settle peacefully, surrendered my rights because it wasn’t worth the trouble. And do you know what we got in the end? The manager offered to remove the maki from our bill but because the maki is THAT good, I just asked them to replace it and they served us a fresh batch! Win!
The difference between complaining and trusting is this: when one keeps protesting he gets tired, exhausts his resources, he becomes negative about everything in his life that he drags himself down that dark pit no one wants to find themselves in. Whereas when you trust, everything else around you falls into place. You become happier so does the people around you.
Before we complain or make excuses, we should start asking ourselves this: what brought me to this situation in the first place? When we whine about not getting enough sleep and rest, we should ask ourselves how we spend our free time. Are we using it to binge watch TV shows or by being on Facebook the entire day? When we grumble about the bills we need to pay, we should ask ourselves how we are spending our money. Are we being good stewards by staying away from unnecessary indulgence? Most of the time we get dissatisfied with the circumstances that we are blaming God about it—asking Him why He’d put us where we are right now not realizing it’s partly our fault by not using our free will for our own good.
I trusted the restaurant to act accordingly and so I got great service in return and I didn’t have to break a sweat. What good do we get from complaining anyway? Does it add time to our lives? Do we get rich from it?
More so, do you still remember your complaints last year? Do you remember how you were unemployed that time and how you asked God for a job because you needed to support your family? Now that you are employed and earning, do you still find the need to complain about something? Anything? We focus so much on the future that we forget what brought us here. We tend to fix our eyes on the things we don’t or can’t have instead of being grateful for the things we do have.
Despite the urge to deny Mike’s allegations, I plead guilty to the crime of complaining and making excuses. As I retraced my steps, I, all of sudden, just this very moment drew to conclusion that there is a high probability that RyRy caught the disease from me. Being a hands-on mom with no helper (ehem, excuse #1), I am always doing something (excuse #2), so it’s either I don’t have time or I am tired (excuse #3). I remember now how I would usually respond to my daughter every time she would come up to me and ask me to help her do spelling, read a book, play games with her or just look at her art work… I would say, I can’t do it, Ry! I have been cleaning the entire day and I am very tired! If only you will help Mommy clean then I would have time for that!
If there’s anyone who needed some disciplining here, that’s me. Man, I’m screwed.