The Deadliest Disease
We have a nasty disease that runs in our family.
It is very, very dangerous and very contagious.
It can be life threatening if not beat and it takes special measures, a strong constitution, and lots of grace to beat it.
It has killed the most healthy of adults, destroyed even the sweetest childhoods, and destroyed many marriages.
It opens the door to many other diseases including cancer, depression, heart attacks, and general poor health.
It has killed my grandmother, my grandfather, my other grandfather, my great grandmother, it helped to ruin my parents’ marriage, it has destroyed most of my dad’s relationships with family members. On my mother’s side it has done plenty of damage, taking out most of my grandmother’s sisters, destroying their relationships with one another, and leading to the majority of those still alive being on anti-depressants.
My husband and I were alarmed to see the symptoms in our children and are taking steps to stop it in its tracks.
Yesterday we took drastic measures, declaring a 24 hour fast which will likely extend beyond the first 24 hours if we see it continuing.
My kids are on a 24 hour fast from complaining and whining.
My oldest has an especially bad case which we realized we had let go for far too long.
You may wonder why I say that it is deadly and dangerous. Let me explain.
I grew up surrounded by complainers. Every conversation was made up of multiple complaints and oneupmanship. One person would complain about their own situation, the next would complain about how much worse their situation was and so on and so forth. I didn’t learn to converse normally–I learned to complain conversationally.
All that complaining gets to you. Pretty soon you are angry and discontent about your situation and constantly mentioning it to others keeps your complaints at the forefront of your mind AND spreads complaining to those around you. Complaining breeds discontent.
For me, by the time I was in college all that complaining led to depression, loneliness, and misery. First, no one wants to talk to you if you complain all the time because being around you makes them miserable too. So the only people who want to be around you are fellow complainers who want you to share in their misery. Then constantly thinking about all the miserable things in your life (and we all have them–the question is whether you concentrate on them or look at the good stuff) leads to depression. For a time I was so depressed and anxious about all my fears and complaints that I was put on anti-depressants and sent to a psychiatrist. That didn’t help because he let me complain away.
Eventually God gave me a good kick in the butt–which is what I really needed.
First He led me through a scriptural search on fear. If you take a good hard look at scripture you will find that fear is a sin. We are told over and over NOT to fear. After that He took me on another scriptural scavenger hunt on worry. Ah. Worry is a sin as well. If God says DO NOT then doing it is obviously disobeying and disobeying God is a sin. Finally, once I weeded out all that worry and fear I found that I was left with a ton of complaining. That complaining was deeply rooted and took a lot of stuff for God to dig it out. When you have a sin that is as deeply rooted as complaining was in me then God has to dig deep and lots of other stuff gets pulled up with it.
For instance, suddenly I had to learn again how to have a conversation. How do you have a conversation with complainers without joining in? It is like a former cigarette smoker trying to hang out with his smoking buddies. Most of the time I had to just quit talking. Eventually I learned how to gracefully change the subject.
Then there was all that complaining you did before. You have to stop thinking that way AND you have to get other people to see that you are no longer thinking that way. I actually lost friendships at this point and for a time had to stop talking to certain people in my life because they constantly brought up my complaints.
I had to quit complaining cold turkey. I had been praying about this issue and around that time I was listening to Elisabeth Elliot. She was talking about how a friend of hers fasted for two weeks from complaining. God looked at me and said, “That is what you need to do.” Okay I couldn’t see Him but I knew He was. I could feel it.
And it was especially hard since I also had to stop complaining in my journal and in my thoughts. Cleansing your thought life is tricky. However, if you can’t say things out loud after a while you stop thinking them. I started looking for good stuff to say and think instead. I also learned to listen instead of trying to think what to say. (Complainers seldom listen because they are too busy thinking about themselves.)
I found that not complaining changed other areas of my life. I was suddenly less stressed, healthier. Heart problems and other stress related illnesses run in my family. So does depression (I am the only adult on my mom’s side who is NOT on anti-depressants.) My relationships are healthier and I am no longer a toxic friend (I hope–I know I used to be.) I have learned to counter every negative, complaining sort of thought with something positive.
I occasionally get laughed at for having a positive attitude. I know people often think that my outlook and response to negative stuff is full of platitudes but it works for me. I know that God has my best planned out and if that includes rough spots in the road–and there are plenty, then I trust Him.
Knowing where I have been because of my complaining (and you know that verse about not arguing and complaining–arguing really does go hand in hand with complaining), I refuse to go back there. I really am determined, in whatever situation I find myself, therein to be CONTENT–and I can’t be content if I am whining, arguing, and complaining.
I also refuse to let my children go that direction–it can and does destroy lives. I have watched it happen.
It nearly destroyed my marriage. It did destroy my parents’.
It led several of my grandparents, great grandparents, as well as great aunts to miserable deaths (yes they died of stress related diseases but they also were very, very miserable by the time they reached that point–and they were hard to care for because they were so miserable).
It has led to most of my family relying on anti-depressants to get through daily life.
It makes my oldest miserable regardless of how wonderful her day has been.
It robs people of joy and peace.
It is a very noisy and miserable killer.
I refuse to let it overtake me or mine ever again. One 24 hour fast isn’t going to kill it but it is a step.