Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Waiting for The 2nd Coming of Jesus
Volume 6 No. 375 Sept 16, 2016
 

III. General Weekly Features

Why Do We Love Whining So Much?

by Cindi McMenamin

"Fatigue makes cowards of us all."

Vince Lombardi said that. And I think we could also say "Fatigue makes whiners of us all."

And oh, how we love whining.

A friend of mine is a 23-year veteran high school teacher who has heard his share of whining. He says teenagers tend to whine when they're tired, bored, lazy, not being stretched, or just trying to get attention. He keeps a sign in his classroom that says "Kwitcher bellyachin'" but most of the time he has to combat whining by cutting it off.

"Do you want some cheese to go with that whine?" he says when the whining starts. But if it continues, his students get a more curt response: "If your situation is so bad, do something about it, and stop your whining!"

He said once kids become aware that they are whining they usually knock it off.

I believe it works the same way for adults. Once we are aware of what we're doing, and how unappealing it is, maybe we'll knock it off.

I don't think any of us sets out to make a habit of whining. But we sure love it, don't we? Misery loves company, so if I'm having a bad day everybody else should, too!

We may love whining, but I'm pretty sure God doesn't. Neither does anybody else who is subject to our droning.

Having ministered to women for nearly 30 years as a pastor's wife, Bible teacher, and conference speaker, I've heard my share of whining among women. I'll also admit I've done my share of whining throughout those years, too. And I will venture to say that you and I love whining for three reasons:

We seek validation for our attitude. When we're miserable, we do love company. So if you and I are whining, then someone else joins in, then a third person tops off our complaints with the kind of day she had, then we feel we are justified in our "life is so unfair" mentality. We may even believe we've found our own little support group. But actually we've just instigated a group of whiners that everyone else in the office, Bible study, or neighborhood will want to avoid.

We believe "venting" will make us feel better. But it never does. When we vent our problems so we can "get a load off of our minds" what we are doing is pulling others down into our pit of despair. And then not only do we feel worse for having been a downer, but we've made others feel worse, too.

We are focused on us. Let's be honest and admit that it feels good, for awhile, to be focused on ourselves. Our flesh likes that. But it's not how God designed us to live or even act, on occasion. Happiness and fulfillment come through obedience to God's Word. Scripture lays out clearly God's will for us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." We are to be people who are grateful in everything, not complaining and whining with whatever life brings our way. Living with gratitude always brings joy.

The young preacher Oswald Chambers said:

"No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives."

So how do you and I stop the whining so our lives can be lovely and generous instead of annoying and self absorbed? By being aware of what we sound like and doing something about it:

Renew your mind to think differently. When you start to verbally vent about what went wrong, train your mind to first report what went right. Then it's possible you won't get to the complaining at all. Romans 12:2 instructs us: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." The world complains and grumbles and sees the worst in every situation. But one who is transformed by the renewing of her mind will not focus on the problems, but be a person of praise.

Restrain what comes out of your mouth. In other words think before you talk. Is your story or complaint going to help anyone? If not, don't say it. Ephesians 4:29 instructs: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Rarely does whining benefit anyone who listens. So restrain it altogether. Make sure words don't exit your mouth unless they're building someone up, not bringing them down.

Resolve to be grateful. One who is joyful rarely complains. And the key to joy is putting God first, others second, and self last. You can do this by cultivating an attitude of praise in everything. Apply 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to your life and be grateful in all circumstances, even the difficult ones, and you will find yourself living joyfully, rather than in a state of complaint, no matter what is happening in your life.

Realize others are watching. Nothing sours our testimony as believers more than a whining tongue. Philippians 2:14-15 tells us: "Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people" (NLT).

William Shakespeare wrote: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players..." You and I have an audience more often that we realize. That audience is there listening, every time we whine. So, guard your testimony as a child of God and stop making "much ado about nothing."

About The Author:

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and best-selling author who helps women and couples find strength for the soul. She is the author of 15 books, including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone, When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, When God Sees Your Tears, and her newest, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom...

Living One Day at a Time

by Dr. John MacArthur, Grace Community Church

"'Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own'"
- (Matthew 6:34).

The believer is not to worry about his future.

British pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, "Although it is very right to think about the future, it is very wrong to be controlled by it." He was right, because worry is a tremendous force that will endeavor to defeat you. It will try to destroy you today by making you upset and anxious. But if it loses today, it will take you into the future until it finds something to make you worry about. In Matthew 6:34 Jesus says that you have enough to deal with today. Take the resources of today for the needs of today, or you will lose the joy of today.

Lack of joy is a sin too. Many people lose their joy because of worry about tomorrow, and they miss the victory God gives them today. That is not fair to Him. God gives you a glorious and blissful day today; live in the light and fullness of the joy of that day, and use the resources God supplies. Don't push yourself into the future and forfeit the joy of today over some tomorrow that may never happen. Learn this one little statement: fear is a liar. It will cause you to lose the joy of today. What's more, God gives strength for only one day at a time. He doesn't give you grace for tomorrow until tomorrow.

When the Bible says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever" (Heb. 13:8), it means He will be doing the same thing tomorrow that He was doing yesterday. If you have any questions about the future, look at the past. Did He sustain you then? He will sustain you in the future. Since there is no past, present, or future with Him, there is no need for you to worry.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for being the same yesterday, today, and forever.

For Further Study

Read Lamentations 3:21-24.

What never ceases and never fails (v. 22)? What does that say about God (v. 23)? What does that give you (v. 21)?

Source: Grace to You.org  

How to Thrive in Changing Times

By Cooper, the CEO

It was another interesting year. Many people shifted departments and roles, our company moved to a new technology platform, and we ramped up our marketing to levels never seen before in our business - and then we had to scale them back dramatically. We hired new people and parted ways with some long-time staff. We bought other companies and launched great new products.

We made many changes to our business, and there's no denying that change can be difficult. But change is here to stay in every aspect of our lives, and today I want to teach you a strategy for thriving in an environment of change.

First, let me tell you about a huge personal disappointment I experienced years ago.

After high school I joined the army. I didn't necessarily want to be in the army, but I wanted to go to college, and at the time, joining the army sounded like a good way to pay for it.

In the army, my job was known as Fire Support Specialist. Also called Forward Observers, soldiers with this Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) work on the front lines. In combat, the main job of a Fire Support Specialist is to spot the enemy, figure out what he is doing, and then work with the people operating big guns, tanks, and aircraft to direct fire towards the enemy.

As you can imagine, it's one of the riskiest roles on the battlefield. Thankfully, I only performed this role in training. I never deployed to a real conflict.

Training for this role takes place in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. It was there, during basic training, that I received a piece of advice that has helped me thrive in tumultuous and unpredictable environments.

It happened on the day before my Army Basic Training graduation. My family and those of the other soldiers in my Company had come to Ft. Sill for the ceremony.

Normally, soldiers are reunited with families immediately after the graduation ceremony. But, weeks before graduation, we were offered a special reward for meeting certain standards of physical fitness and discipline. If those were achieved, we earned a four-hour leave with our families the day before graduation.

It had been ten long, grueling weeks since I'd seen my family. Knowing I'd see them a day early kept me focused and motivated during the final week.

But something changed. I don't remember the reason, but literally moments before we were supposed to meet our families, we were informed that there was a change of plans. We were told we wouldn't see them at all that day.

Even after 22 years, I think this was the most disappointment I've ever felt. And looking back, I'm a little embarrassed that it affected me so strongly. Still, the fact is the disappointment was overwhelming in the moment. I did everything I was supposed to do. We had a deal. It all seemed profoundly unfair.

I didn't say a word when the Drill Sargent delivered the news. But the disappointment must was been written all over my face. When he saw me, he walked over and got in my face as he loved to do, looked me in the eye and said, "Cooper, you gotta learn to be flexible."

The next moment we were put to work. I won't pretend that the line from my Drill Sgt. 'turned my frown upside down,' but it did help me stop feeling sorry for myself.

"You gotta learn to be flexible," has become a mantra for me. There hasn't been a week since that day in Oklahoma that I don't repeat it to myself at least once. And, during times of great uncertainty, I might say it a dozen times a day.

No doubt, you've experienced your own disappointments. No doubt, you've experienced the stress and uncertainty of change. And there's no doubt, you will experience it again and again - personally and professionally.

Embracing Change in Your Life

There's a strange irony about human nature. We are a resilient species because of our ability to adapt to our environment. And yet, despite the defining trait of our species - we fear change and often fight tooth-and-nail against it.

All in all, everyone in our business has done a remarkable job of embracing the change this year. And thank goodness, because there's been a lot of it, and next year is sure to be filled with many more changes.

I haven't polled my staff, but if social scientists are right - many of them likely underwent stress and worry as changes were being implemented.

According to social scientists, we all go through an emotional process as we deal with change, and it's not pretty. In fact, the theory of emotional patterns and change is rooted in Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief.

If that's true, it means the emotional roller coaster we go through amidst big changes follows the same pattern as someone preparing to accept their own death.

No wonder people hate change.

Shock, denial, blame, panic, and helplessness are common emotions associated with 'holding on' to the past. If you can come to terms with the change, things improve and not just your emotional state. Your performance improves too. If you can't come to terms with change, the negative emotions persist and performance becomes a major issue.

Change Management

There is a whole mess of research devoted to Change Management. Most of it comes down to this:

Change is hard. When people encounter change, they're likely to go through a series of emotions (above). The emotions are natural. It's a process. Understand it.

If you're leading a team, explain to your team what's happening. Help them to understand the emotional process of change so they can diagnose where they are on the curve. Help them see that it's natural to feel the way they do and show them how things will get better.

Of course, resistance to change happens for more than just emotional reasons. There are practical considerations too. Things like "This will cause more work for me" and "Will this change make my job unnecessary?" are among the issues identified by Rosabeth Kanter in Harvard Business Review, Ten Reasons People Resist Change

How to Thrive in a World of Change

If there's a specific change that has you unsettled, take a step back and see where your emotions fall. Are you holding on? If so, what exactly are you worried about?

Remember that change is a process.

Disappointment, uncertainty, and change are hard - but you already know that. By now, you also know they're a fact of life. You'll face them professionally and personally. The only thing you can control is how you respond. And by responding well to change, you'll learn to thrive even while others falter.

"You gotta learn to be flexible," as my Drill Sargent would say.

About the Author:

Cooper is the CEO of a 9-figure-income publishing company, and prefers that we don't use his full name. He oversees a team of 250 employees, many of them spread out across America in satellite offices. Cooper cut his chops traveling America working for little-known multi-millionaire CEOs, and developed his organizational and coaching skills in one of those popular student franchise businesses. He's conducted over 1,700 employee interviews and over 3,000 weekly meetings. His wisdom on helping you advance in your career is second to none.

Source: ETR

Family Special: Fighting Over Nothing

by Lauren Winner

Scripture: Joel 2:1-32

Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the LORD has done great things!
Joel 2:21

In the midst of calamity, of living with the consequences of sin, the prophet Joel reminds us not to be afraid, but rather to be glad and rejoice, for "the LORD has done great things!" This is a great reminder for me in marriage.

Okay, my marriage doesn't usually feel like a calamity. But at times it has felt impossible . . . like a mistake... like a mess. It has felt, to borrow an image from Joel, like a horde of locusts has come in and taken over everything.

Our most recent rough patch was over nothing. I think the immediate cause was sleep deprivation and too many evening meetings at church and work. Griff and I just got stuck, like a needle on a broken record. For about three days, we couldn't exchange a pleasant word, let alone a loving one.

We had lost our sense of being a team. Each, I think, was thinking, "I'm contributing way more here." One of us was thinking, "I do way more housework," and the other was thinking, "I slog away at work for endless hours to pay the mortgage." And together we were concluding, "Why do I put up with this? I'm not getting anything out of it." There were moments in that three-day period when I seriously wondered if we would ever get through that horrible time. "This is how we'll be for the rest of forever," I thought.

Our dissatisfaction was not only superficial but also sinful. We were allowing ourselves to feel alienated from each other and to enjoy strangely delicious feelings of self-righteous annoyance. I felt a little superior; I'm sure Griff did too.

The prophet Joel told the people of Judah that unless they got their act together (that is, repented), God would destroy them just as locusts had destroyed their land.

At the time, I didn't think God was waiting around to unleash lightning bolts on our marriage. But unless Griff and I repented of our small sins-tetchiness, selfishness, anger-our small sins would quickly become large sins that could do serious harm to our marriage.

At times like that, I find it helpful to remember that the Lord has done great things. He has done great things in our marriage. He has gotten us through far worse patches than three days of clawing at each other. Remembering that I don't have to be in control and that I should cede that control to God, who has done great things, leads me to repent. After three days or three hours of tetchiness, repentance can be as simple and profound as acknowledging that if I let God into the situation, we won't feel so stuck.

For me, the beginning of repentance is as basic as picturing Jesus walking into the situation. Sometimes I do that when Griff and I are in the middle of a squabble. Sometimes, I can't get there until later, when I'm alone. Then I replay the scene, the tension and the annoyance, and I envision Jesus showing up. This is not just some imaginative exercise. It is a prayer, a plea for help. And the God who does great things answers.

Let's Talk

What are some of the great things God has done in our marriage?

What are some small sins in our marriage that sometimes threaten to turn into big, destructive sins?

How might inviting Jesus into our squabbles lead us to repentance? What might change as a result?

Source: NIV Devotions for Couples

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