What’s your pet peeve? Do you like to complain? Do you like to listen to others complain? Is it OK to complain? If the problem is really big is it OK to complain as opposed to whining about the traffic or the lines or the rain? Is it OK to complain to God? These are some of the questions lively discussed in this morning’s women’s LinkGroup. We continued our study on “Cultivating Contentment” and talked a lot about what trips our trigger, the difference between whining and complaining, when it’s appropriate and when it’s not, and who best to “vent” to.
I wrote about complaining in a recent blog but now I am learning more about the appropriateness of letting God know how we feel. I recently downloaded a book to my Kindle called, The Papa Prayer by Larry Crabb. (PAPA is an acronym for relational prayer which includes Presenting yourself to God, Attending to how you think of God, Purging yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God, and Approaching God as your “first thing.”) I’m not endorsing the book here, I’ve just started reading it, but the first part of the book discusses the importance of presenting yourself to God, not in how you think that you should be, but in how you really are, authentically. Crabb suggests that you make a pattern of looking at where you are, to your very core, and telling God just that without holding anything back.
I think we see a clear pattern in the Psalms of David and his contemporaries fully transparent with God about how they feel, including desperation and other pretty raw emotions. My Pastor likes to say that God already knows what you’re feeling so it’s pretty pointless to hide it.
I think sometimes it’s pointless to hide it from each other, too. I’m not talking about the whining and complaining that American Christians and Americans in general are famous for (yuck), but the openness and vulnerability that deepens friendships and allows others to “come along side” of us and support us when we’re just a little too freaked out or experiencing too much pain to fully support ourselves.
I love Galations 6:1-3 in the New Living Translation: “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”
So, out with the whining and in with the authenticity—with God and with each other.