It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given. One or the other becomes a habit of life. -Elisabeth Elliot
More on the topic of complaining...I had a great "conversation" via email with a good friend about complaining and she really got me thinking and I simply have to share my epiphany.
I think the reason I can be so cheerful, to the point of annoyance, is that I know what I have to be grateful for. My child hasn't slept more than 5 or 6 hours straight in 8 months. And he's only done that twice. Most nights I'm still up 4-5 times. BUT my child is healthy. And I have a child. These far outweigh the temporary inconvenience of frequent nighttime feedings.
Meet Alicia, a friend (I feel I can call her that thanks to facebook and her blog even though I've only met her once), who was told she couldn't have children. Now she has two. A daughter and a son. She was told her son, Carson, would most likely not survive his first few days due to brain damage. He's now 9 months old and thriving. Yes he still has a host of "problems" but she has him and he's alive. (http://carsonmylove.blogspot.com/)
How dare I complain about not getting 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Or meet Kelsey, who was told her son, Mason, may not survive the pregnancy due to a heart defect. Who has gone through multiple open heart surgeries and will never be "normal". But he's here and alive. (http://masongarka.blogspot.com/)
It's getting harder to complain, isn't it.
Or meet Amy, Ryan's teaching partner, who at her 20 week ultrasound heard the news that more testing was needed but something was definitely not right. Her daughter, Jana Joy, has spinal bifida and may never walk without the aid of crutches or a walker. But she's here, so precious, and impressing all the doctors with her mobility.
What, you still think you have something to complain about?
Meet Elisabeth. She lost both of her twin sons at 21 weeks. Or Tara who lost Tia, her sweet baby girl, at 36 weeks. Those mommies would love a sleepless night or two.
Need more? Meet Jackie, who's son Trevor is about to turn 6 and also is a heart baby. Meet Emily, who's son Owen spent 143 days in the NICU before finally coming home to give her sleepless nights.
So yeah, I think I have a lot to be grateful for. And I'm treasuring my sleepless memories with my beautiful son whom I asked God for. And I think this same approach can be used with any struggle you're going through in life. Have complaints about your husband? At least you've got one and if you would simply stop and appreciate the good things about him, you'd realize he's pretty darn amazing. Hate your job? At least you've got one. It's paying for a roof over your head and food on the table. Stop complaining about it and see if God doesn't turn it into something beautiful and amazing. Gratefulness is a CHOICE. You have to make it everyday, in every situation. But it's your choice. And that good life you're waiting for...you're living it right now, but you're missing out on it by complaining.
Can you imagine if God gave me this amazing gift and then I whined and complained about it? How would you react if you gave your child something mind-blowingly amazing and they reacted that way. It's a good thing God is God and not me...there would be a whole lot more smiting going on, let me tell you:)
So there it is. My 2 cents. Like Elisabeth Eliot says, It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given. One or the other becomes a habit of life.