When my children were growing up, one of our house rules was “No Whining.” Usually their inclination to whine was in reaction to being told to do their chores or to help around the house. I worked diligently to help them realize that (1) whining was not going to change anything–they would still have to do as they were instructed–and (2) the tasks they were whining about generally required less time and energy than they expended in whining. My sons are grown up and highly responsible men now. I am proud that they carry out their responsibilities without whining or complaining.
Whining is not restricted to children, however. Many adults have fallen into the bad habit of whining about the difficulties life throws at them. Life is never easy, and God never promised that it would be. Most of the time, life seems pretty good or at least manageable. However, there are times when it seems we can’t get a break. One crisis follows another with barely enough time to recover in between them. How we respond during those difficult times determines whether we build character and perseverance or we figuratively ‘throw in the towel’ and give into whining and complaining.
I heard a story yesterday of a woman, Linda, who had been through a very challenging time several years ago. She had decided to take a risk and start her own business. A few months later, her husband was severely injured. The doctors estimated that he would need three months to recover. His actual recovery took nearly two years. Six months after his injury, their daughter was deployed and left with them her infant daughter. Linda was now responsible for a helpless baby and her recovering husband, as well as trying to maintain and grow her fledgling business. It was a challenge that many people would not be able to handle.
Rather than whining or giving up her business, Linda allowed her circumstances to motivate her to take control of her life. She developed her time management skills and created systems that work for her. Her business is helping people get organized. She helps people sort through paper, clothing, household items, and other belongings to determine what adds value to their lives and what is cluttering up their lives. Due to the skills she has developed, she was able to expand her business to teach people time management skills in addition to clutter management. Rather than whining about her circumstance, Linda responded positively and grew as a person and a businesswoman.
I have known Linda for a few years, yet I had not heard this story. Linda was speaking to a group on time management skills and shared her story only to demonstrate how important these time management skills were during this challenging time in her life. Her skills are insightful and I plan to share them in another post. I appreciated that Linda could share her story without trying to elicit sympathy, but rather to encourage each of us in the audience to know we can handle much more than we think we can if we manage our time properly and focus on adding value to our lives.
Philippians 2:14 tells us to “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” This doesn’t mean that we will always be happy about our circumstances. Linda certainly was not happy that her husband was hurt or that his recovery period was much longer than the doctors had predicted. However, she knew that she could not change her circumstances by complaining. She could have whined to God and to the doctors that these circumstances were too difficult, that she didn’t have time for these challenges with a new business, or that life simply was not fair. Linda did not choose to whine. She chose to move forward without whining or complaining.
Life is challenging. You may be going through a challenging circumstance right now. If now, you will be soon, I can assure you. When life gets rocky, remember to keep your eyes firm fixed on God, as He is the only source of help. Keep doing your best each day with God’s help. And remember, “No Whining.”