I Want to Complain! How Acknowledging God’s Touch Can Help

The unthankful heart … discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.
—Henry Ward Beecher

I don’t know about you, but when something doesn’t go my way, I have a tendency to complain. It may take the form of muttering under my breath, voicing it to my family and friends, or screaming it into the silence.

The crazy thing is, it’s usually not the big things over which I complain. I tend to walk through those leaning on God. It’s the little, inconsequential, shouldn’t-really-matter, just-brush-them-aside kind of issues that get me.

Because they do matter to me, and I can’t just brush them away.

So I fall into my default: complaining.

I have to admit: It feels good in the moment. I feel justified. After all, this isn’t what I asked for.

Yet what does complaining accomplish? Does it make things better? Solve the problem? Endear me to more people who will help? Absolutely not.

Complaining doesn’t contribute anything positive. In fact it can do the opposite of what I want.

5 Reasons to Not Complain

Complaining is detrimental in 5 key ways:

  1. Keeps us in a dark mood.
  2. Reduces our credibility.
  3. Prevents us from pursuing viable solutions to the problem.
  4. Reduces our likeability factor.
  5. Drops us into the comparison trap.

So what’s a complaining-default kind of gal to do?

How about developing a new default, like giving thanks instead. 


Adopt a New Habit

In a previous post, I wrote about habits being sticky and using them to re-energize our spiritual lives. Along the same line, let’s make a new sticky default of focusing on the positive things in our day, instead of fixating on the negative.

Let’s adopt a new habit of being grateful for what we do have—what is in our lives—instead of what is a problem area or disturbance.

Let’s retire our complaining by acknowledging and focusing on the ways God touches our lives.

Let's retire our complaining by acknowledging and focusing on the ways God touches our lives. Click To Tweet

5-Step Plan

Practically, what does this look like? How can we express a need or an issue without slipping into the complaining mode that is ingrained in many of us?

Let’s look at an example from my life. One of the areas I really want to complain about is lack of time. Yet we all have the same amount of time, and we all have more things to do than time to do them, and complaining doesn’t help anyway.

Instead, I need to refocus on the gift of each moment I’ve been given.

So here’s a 5-step plan using my example:

  1. Identify what is bugging you: time.
  2. Voice the problem: I don’t have enough time to get everything done. Or There’s too few hours in a day for all the tasks I need to complete.
  3. Replace the refrain in step 2 that you so badly want to repeat over and over again with a new positive one. Be specific to the problem area. I don’t have enough time to get everything done, but I have the same number of hours as everyone else, and each one is a gift. 
  4. Turn that positive statement into a refrain of gratitude. Again, don’t just give a generic thanksgiving; be specific. Thank you, Lord, for entrusting me with these hours, this day, these tasks to make a difference in serving you and my family. 
  5. Move forward with this renewed mind and new focus.

This strategy is not a magic fix because our desire for ease and comfort is powerful. When life isn’t either of these, our nature is to revert back to complaining.

However, the more we replace our negative thoughts with positive ones of gratitude, the easier and more natural it becomes. Gradually, our thought patterns will shift to more often focus on the gifts of the moment instead of the difficulties. This is the power of Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare and counting 1000 gifts each year.

By filling our minds with beauty and treasures and blessings, there’s less room for ugly and useless thoughts to take hold. And noticing and acknowledging the sweet and powerful touch of God in our lives leads to a lifetime habit of joy.

Noticing and acknowledging the sweet and powerful touch of God in our lives leads to a habit of joy. Click To Tweet

Exchanging complaining for joyful praise: now that’s a pretty good bargain.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

Reflections: What do you have a propensity to complain about? How can acknowledging the power of God’s touch transform your complaining? 

I’m thrilled to link up with Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart on Wednesday and Suzie Eller for #livefree Thursday and this week’s prompt, “power of touch” I love these special linkups. They provide an abundance of great inspiration and encouragement all in one place. Click on the images below to check them out.  


By His grace ≈


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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

12 comments on “I Want to Complain! How Acknowledging God’s Touch Can Help
  1. Kim S says:

    Julie, I love this post – I am certainly a complainer and am very encouraged to #livefree using the steps you laid out today. Thanks for sharing and inspiring me! Have a great day, Kim Stewart

  2. Kia Stephens says:

    Kim, I’m a complainer too. As a mother of 2 boys I have the propensity to complain about the condition of my HOUSE. You clean and you clean but it is never clean. The power of God’s touch can totally transform my tongue by enabling me to see the beauty of being a mother to my boys even in the mess. Not there yet but I getting better. Thanks for the post.

  3. Tammy Smith says:

    I love this perspective! I have been working with my children to really live out Phil 4:8-9 in our daily lives, but this week, we’ve lost sight of that. This is one of those busy weeks, where the to-do list is much bigger than the number of hours on the clock. But starting right now, I am reframing my day through the lens of gratitude and joy. Thank you!

    • Julie Sunne says:

      Good for you, Tammy! If you’re like me, no matter how much I do, my to-do list just gets longer. I guess that means we’re alive and kicking and have much to be grateful for. 🙂

  4. Suzie Eller says:

    This is so good. Thank you for sharing this with the #livefreeThursday linkup. I grew through this, my friend. <3

  5. A new default, this is fabulous. A true change in attitude… and so worth it. Grateful to have visited you through the #livefreeThursday linkup!

  6. Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit) says:

    Julie: A very close friend and I had a conversation this morning where we both agreed that we have to live each day as our if it were last.The impetus for this honesty was the news of a 30-year-old granddaughter of a lady in our church being told she has a month to live. Nothing makes us aware of God and our shortcomings like hearing of someone getting that prognosis. Bless you and yours.

    • Julie Sunne says:

      Cecelia, it’s too bad we so often wait for that kind of diagnosis before we change our perspective and appreciate the gift of each day. Glad you are embracing each of yours.

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