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.