Grumbling is taking a grim look at ourselves and the world around us and muttering about it between our teeth. It is an easy habit to start but a hard one to break.
Maybe part of my grumbling came from my desire to feel powerful while truly feeling powerless. Anger feels powerful, and playing a victim often causes others to jump to action. When I play the victim, I deny others the joyful and peaceful attitude they want from me in an effort to get them to do what I want, and this is a bad trap not just for me but also for my kids to fall into. After all, do I want them to think this is how one gets what he or she wants, by becoming a victim? And do I want them to learn to please and pacify those who see themselves as victims just to bring peace? What a horrible way to live.
I knew, as we looked to start the journey for the year, that we had the grumbling down pat. Yes, that muttering between the teeth was pretty common around here. And as I looked around, I saw that all this grumbling had allowed us to disown any responsibility. Since things couldn’t be perfect, we didn’t take ownership for our choices, attitudes, or actions. By grumbling we showed our disapproval, but we also made it clear we believed we had no ability to change things, whether our words, beliefs, or behaviors.
So maybe, as part of the first step of starting with our hearts, we needed to develop a better view of life—a hopeful one, not a grim one. Maybe when we sealed our lips to grumbling, we’d instead discover ways to make changes and find our power. These changes could be external, like teaching our children to do a better job at taking care of our pantry. Or they could be more internal, such as unsubscribing from magazines or catalogs that caused underlying feelings of discontent. Changes could be made, but it would take refusing to put our energy into simply grumbling about them and instead actually doing something—and not just anything, but working to make disciples rather than simply punishing our kids for grumbling.