Gripe Jar Wrap Up

Well I’m a tad late on my Operation Gripe Jar summary but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a life changing experiment in minding my tongue.  It does mean that it’s been an insane week and our life was nearly consumed with my husband’s golf tournament at work, their big fundraising push for the year.

So now that it’s over our family is collectively trying to take a deep breathe and enjoy the end of 65 hour work weeks for a while.

So back to the Gripe Jar, I’ve spent the last week paying careful attention to the words that come out of my mouth and making an effort not to complain.  Something I should have been doing all along.  Each time I complained I had to put a penny in the jar, and I wrote down my gripes and what was going on with me that caused me to complain.

After the first few hours I was able to stop a good portion of my griping, whiney behavior.   However, I soon realized that just because I had stopped complaing with my mouth doesn’t mean that I wasn’t griping on the inside. (If complaining in my thought life counted the jar would be buried in pennies)  The inner griping is an indication of a much bigger problem.  I can be mindful to monitor my words and use discipline to control what I say, but it’s a lot more difficult to get a grip on your thought life, it’s easy to let your mind run away with you.

I’m coming to realize that all the inner discontent means that inside I’m not nearly as grateful and trusting as I’d like to be and that a week of pennies in a jar is only the beginning of this journey.  There will be days and years of willingly counting gifts and laying down my worries and discontent at the feet of my Father.

So, how many pennies made their way into the jar?  The official count is 53, but it was hard to track things since the kids seemed bound and determined to steal my jar and scribble on my gripe paper.

Here’s a breakdown of some of my recorded gripes, I’ve sorted them into categories.

1)  First World Problems– In this category fell gripes about not having a certain kind of food, slow internet, and the city turning our water off for maintenance.  All irritating things, but when I stopped to think about it they were rooted in a sense of entitlement that supposed that I needed all of these things to get by and be happy, which I don’t.  Most people on earth don’t have access to endless bananas, fresh ground coffee, wifi and clean cold water.

2) People’s behavior– In this category we have my children getting up too early (5:15 one day) My husband trying a discipline I don’t approve of or the kids scattering my laundry piles all over the house.  I am learning to resign myself to the fact that for the most part I could spend my life complaining about unwanted behavior if I wanted to.  But, the better option is to work with my kids on better behavior, have more in depth conversations with Kel on parenting choices and just get over the fact that kids sleep when they want to.

3) Struggle to serve- As I posted Sunday, I am still learning to die to myself and many days I don’t really get ample time to do what I want to do.  It’s easy to gripe about this but the real truth here is that we all have to learn to love the life we have, ideal or non ideal.  If you have a serious problem loving where you are or what you do, spend some time in prayer about how you’re supposed to change this.

4) WalMart– Yes, I complain about WalMart A LOT, I don’t like it and it brings out the worst in me.  Yes it has it’s own category, I could write a month’s worth of blogs on this topic, but I digress.  What I can’t do is deny that even a low quality shopping experience is better than starving or going without so I should probably, maybe stop griping about the Hell Mart, I mean WalMart.

5) Oklahoma– We live in a rural town that isn’t always my favorite place to live.  I love the people here but the weather and lack of options accounts for a pretty big percentage of my whining.  God’s working with me on this and keeps reminding me that if I claim that this is where we are supposed to be then I should cut out Oklahoma bashing.

6) Borderline- The hard to diagnose complaints, for example I was sick during Operation Gripe Jar, so when I said something like “ow my throat hurts” was I complaining or just informing my family about my pain?

So that’s a decent summary of Operation Gripe Jar.  I truly hope that I’ve started down a path where my ears are tuned to complaining so I may become a rare source of it.

What I can’t stress enough is that if you find yourself complaining a lot what you need more than a gripe jar is a self check.  You have to diagnose what’s going on in your soul and your relationship with God that’s causing you to have such a negative attitude about what he’s entrusted you with.

The bible says that we are supposed to capture our thoughts and make sure that they line up with Jesus’ teachings.  Jesus taught about contentment, thankful obedience and serving.  So if your words and thoughts aren’t lining up with that, then what you and I really have is a heart, relationship with God type issue, so ….ouch eh?

It’s been convicting and with my gripe jar, bible and Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 gifts I think I have a shot at this gratitude and joy business in the long run.


Operation Gripe Jar- a week long challenge

So on the way home tonight Kel brought to my attention that I complain a lot.  The weather’s too hot, the house is too small, I don’t get enough “me time,” The grocery budget is too tight, the kids didn’t nap, My back really hurts, He doesn’t understand me, he doesn’t say the right thing, and the list goes on.

When I talk like this he said, it leaves him wondering I will ever be happy with the life we are making together.  Ouch… I didn’t respond for a few minutes because the only fitting rebuttal was this: “You’re right, and I’m so sorry”

When I replay the soundtrack of my life I sound like a depressing and very broken record at times.

Not only is this irritating and discouraging to those around me, it’s an indication of an ungrateful heart.  How can I be counting gifts and expecting to find joy if I’m so busy complaining?

So I’m attempting an experiment this week and I’m going public with it and inviting you to join me.  We can hold each other accountable, on twitter, Facebook, or here on the blog.

Here is my commitment: This week I will not complain, put down, whine or gripe, I will not even insult what God has given me by talking about what I would like to have instead.

Every time I notice myself complaining I have to put a penny in this jar:

This is going to be hard because it’s become a bad and seriously ingrained habit.  But I’ll be honest with you, record my successes and failures and report back about how it went and how it changed me.

I would love for you to do the same if you feel like this is an area of your life where you’re choosing death over life by focusing on the negative

Sentence starters to be AVOIDED
– ” I really hate that…”
– ” I wish I didn’t have to…”
– ” I’m not looking forward to…”
– “You know what sucks?…”

Some Motivational Text to put on a sticky note or two

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” Hebrews 13:15

“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”Matthew 15:11 (for those of us who worry more about what we’re eating than what we’re saying)

“The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.”Proverbs 10:21

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29

The long and short of it is that I need to get some control over what I say and what it says about the state of my heart.  So I’m doing something simple yet public and moving in a direction so that my mouth becomes a more life giving source for those I love.

So If you want to get in on Operation Gripe Jar:

1) Comment, Facebook, tweet to me etc and let me know you’re on board.

2) Get a jar, a bowl, a bag, a box, whatever and start Monday morning with it empty.  (I’d love it if you shared a pic of your jar with me #operationgripejar) 

3) When you gripe, jot down on paper or on your phone what you said and where your heart was at when it happened and then put a penny in the jar.

4) Report back to me Next week monday and let me know how it went, how you succeeded and failed and how it changed your week and hopefully your heart for the better.

And hey, report back on my Facebook or twitter all week long!  Strength in numbers my friends!

This is a simple, easy system that might lead to some long term changes in every aspect of our lives.  If God can use a jar and some pennies to cultivate gratitude in my heart, then I’m all in baby.