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Will you take the BOLD 30 days without complaining challenge?

Going without complaining has been my annual November challenge the past few years. Nothing sets my heart on thankfulness more than going without complaining.

30 Days Without Complaining???

Going without complaining is hard enough to do for five minutes much less 30 days, but I’ve learned that the secret to thankfulness is changing my heart from the inside out.

Between October 30 and November 1, already the thankfulness and gratitude challenges have begun popping up in my newsfeed.

While there’s nothing wrong with having gratitude or doing thankfulness, I’ve found that people post about being grateful in one post a day, but spend the rest of their day complaining.

Posting one #Grateful #Blessed #Thankful post a day wasn't changing anyone's heart. Click To Tweet
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Posting one #Grateful #Blessed #Thankful post a day wasn’t changing anyone’s heart.

I wanted to do more than spend five minutes considering what I’m thankful for.

Being thankful comes out of a true sense of humility regarding the gifts that God has given us, which sometimes, include suffering because it is preparing us for eternal glory in Heaven.

2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

In recent years, I’ve learned a lot about different kinds of suffering: financial struggles, physical challenges, marital difficulties. And I’ve learned that being thankful in the midst of all my challenges changes how I face them. People around me see what’s happening in my heart and my life and are encouraged.

Just today, my friend Rebekah shared my episode of her delightful podcast about Trusting God in Adversity.

020: Trusting God in Adversity with Jennifer Defrates

The past few years I’ve been doing this 30 days without complaining challenge I started it in 2014. It has become my annual November tradition.

Will you take the bold 30 days without complaining challenge?

Pledge to go 30 days November 1-November 30 without complaining. Ask your spouse and besties to hold you accountable. Ask your kids to hold you accountable. My seven year old is on it!

WHY take this challenge? 

When I cannot complain, I find ways to choose joyfulness that I might not if I weren’t taking the challenge.

Going without complaining helps me be more intentional with every word I speak. Intentionality really changes the tone of my home. In fact, doing this challenge for the last couple of years has been a tremendously helped in changing the way I speak, think, and feel in general.

God has used this challenge to convict and restore me to a gentle spirit. And, it’s been a very powerful in my family as we celebrate the harvest season and prepare our home to celebrate Christ’s birth.

So what does it look like to go without complaining?

I take it to a really extreme level. For example, I do not say things like I am hungry but that I would like to eat. By making positive statements instead of negative, I am being proactive rather than reactive.

Going without complaining makes me aware of how often complaining is the first attitude I have. This morning, half awake, I stumbled out of my bedroom door. Looking around the disarray leftover from a busy couple of days I said, “This house is a mess.”

I quickly clamped my hand over my mouth. My husband asked me what I had said. Chagrined, I replied, “I need to straighten up today.” Shoot, I didn’t even make it to the coffeepot.

But being willing to take this challenge does not mean that you will be perfect. It means that you will strive to reduce your complaining. Changing your vocabulary is only the beginning.

Spending time in praise and reading God’s word will change the overflow of my heart so that my default emotional position becomes one of praise and thanksgiving in a powerful way.

Can you think of a better way to begin the holiday season this year than celebrating a true heart of thankfulness, recognizing that life is difficult and challenging and yet it beautiful and wondrous gift?

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No Complaints

Want to be truly thankful this year? Try going 30 Days with No Complaints. Take this challenge - change your heart, home and perspective. #NoComplaints

This morning, God’s plan for my day was not what I was expecting. I was prepared to begin my 2nd Annual 30 Days Without Complaint Challenge with a Sunday full of fellowship and worship, excited for our new pastor, but .  .  .

My day started by challenging ‘no complaints’ right away.

Instead, I snuggled with a sore-‘froated’, upset-tummy-having-little-girl and got the opportunity to tackle laundry, carpet cleaning, and scrubbing the bathroom. Want to be truly thankful this year? Try going 30 Days with No Complaints. Take this challenge - change your heart, home and perspective. #NoComplaintsFocusing on no complaints meant biting back discouraging words about starting my morning cleaning up vomit. I took captive the bitter thoughts seeping into my heart over a groggy barfing child, and smiled.

2 Corinthians 10:5b take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Oh, sweet girl, it’s okay. I made a silly face and laughed when I stepped in puke, and she giggled with me.

Thank you, Lord for encouragement to get some cleaning done. I’m grateful for a washing machine to tackle her now decidedly soggy astronaut costume she had worn again today, poor thing. Thank you for a carpet cleaner and bleach for the bathroom, and a little Lysol Silkwood shower just for me.

Thank you for a quiet, rainy day to rest with a DVR full of Little House on the Prairie.

Instead of frustration that my day had gone askew, I chose to deliberately focus my heart on having a positive perspective.

Instead of the usual thankfulness challenge, this year go #30DaysWithoutComplaint with me! Click To Tweet

Every year, November 1 starts an avalanche of thankfulness on social media. It is fun to play along. Yet, after joining in for a couple of years, I wasn’t seeing much actual change in my life.

Will you take the 30 Days Without Complaint Challenge?

In the past, my attitude has sometimes looked a little like this . . .

  • “I am so thankful for my wonderful hubby. He is my soulmate and best friend! #perfecthusband” 7 a.m.
  •  “Who puts the milk back with a spoonful in the carton? No milk for breakfast. #oblivioushusband” 8 a.m.
  • “Ugh, you do know what a hamper is, right? Underpants under the sink?? #husbandsaretoddlers 9 a.m.

One thankful moment and the rest of the day was full of grumbling.

I took the 30 Days Without Complaint challenge last year, learning how  to live (in real life and on social media) without complaining. Within 48 hours, I realized just how challenging it would be have no complaints for a single day, much less a month.

In fact, just as I started planning this challenge again, my husband told me he has a 24 hour shift on Thanksgiving. My heart was quietly breaking. He has missed so many holidays. I know it is just a day, but after four deployments, I cherish holding his hand over the table that one special day.

But when I stopped complaining last year, I learned more than anything else, my attitude affects my experience. I can choose to be grateful for my husband’s secure job and all that he provides for us; or I can complain about losing a day with him. When I focus on finding the silver lining, my peace gives him such freedom to find joy as well. Our whole home is so much sweeter when I am.

When I focus on joy, my peacefulness frees the people in my life to seek joy and peace too. Click To Tweet

It’s funny how choosing to smile, choosing to say grateful words over a no fun situation, actually made it better.

James 1:2-4 ESV  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Tonight, I’m thrilled by the joy I witnessed in my home today. Despite tired, wet, headaches, sore ‘froats’, upset tummies, yucky weather, we had WONDERFUL joyous laughter, long hugs, sweet giggles because I chose no complaints.

While my day wasn’t what I planned, it felt perfect and complete, lacking in nothing when I counted it all joy.

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What I Learned When I Stopped Complaining

Exploring the things I learned about my attitude and spirit when I changed my words.

For the 2014 Thanksgiving season, I began a challenge of 30 Days Without Complaint. And it was hard. Honestly, it was pretty much impossible to keep 100%. I wanted to revisit what I learned when I stopped complaining.

1. I learned that being negative has been my default setting for most of my life.

I tend to see the one wrong thing like a flashing beacon begging me to fix it, which makes me a fantastic essay grader as a teacher, but also means I have to be purposeful about seeing the positive and intentional about mentioning it!

Trying my best to follow the dictionary definition of ‘complaining’ as expressing any negativity, I had no idea how often I complained. “I’m hungry.” “This coffee is cold.” “I’m tired.” I had this whole under-the-breath monologue of whining that I did almost unconsciously.

Complaining seems like our default setting as humans. Can one month reset our hearts? #30DaysWithoutComplaint Click To Tweet

During this challenge, I had days I considered duct tape might be my only hope.

Heaven Not Harvard - Exploring the things I learned about my attitude and spirit when I changed my words. I got a big dose of conviction one morning when my daughter heard me mumbling my husband’s name while cleaning up after his mess. She shouted aghast, “MOM, he isn’t even here!”

Yes, not only was I adding to the mental list of resentment in my own head, I was coloring her perceptions of her father. I was unintentionally disrespecting him in front of his daughter. LOTS of reasons to halt that behavior immediately.

2. Negativity is a big brush that paints over everything else.

A single complaint can sour an entire experience for everyone. I can be having a perfectly nice time when my husband’s food isn’t right, or he feels the service is slow, and the focus for rest of the night is that ONE aspect of the experience instead of being aware of the myriad of enjoyable moments.

Ever think about all the compliments you’ve ever been paid? What about all the insults? I find that negative feelings and thoughts overshadow all the positives if we give them room in our minds.

3. I had been using complaining as a passive way of asking for things.

“I’m hungry” wasn’t just a declarative statement. I was looking for my husband to offer to cook or get me something. I realized that using complaining to ask for things wasn’t healthy behavior. If I want something, I need to ask for it. And I need to be willing to get it for myself if the answer is no. If I’m not, it wasn’t really that important.

I learned my complaining was sin in so many ways: resentment, manipulation, grumbling. Click To Tweet

By taking more responsibility for what I wanted or needed, I began to take more responsibility for my own feelings as well, which turned out to be very empowering.

After two years being fairly immobile, I got used to not being able to do much. Learning to stop complaining might mean getting up more often, but I am so glad that I finally can!

4. Most importantly, I really learned that words have power.

The way we say things matters. I can complain, “I’m cold” or I can say “I’m going to get my jacket.” One is powerless. The other is pro-active. One is letting my environment dictate my expectations, the other is choosing to create my own reality through my actions or how I choose to perceive it.

The words we use become our focus. I spent this challenge removing as much of the inner complainer as the outer. My internal dialogue was just as much of a problem as my outer one. I still have a long way to go, but see that stopping mid-thought and looking for the blessings can really change my perspective.

For example, my kitchen is messy because my husband works ridiculously hard at insane hours and makes his own breakfast when he is barely awake. I can be upset at the mess or I can choose to see it as wonderful evidence of having a family and a dedicated husband.

Going 30 Days Without Complaint was only a starting point. I have a long way to go before I really conquer this bitter battle with complaining, but I have learned how to be more positive, even with negative emotions.

I’ve seen change starts with my attitude, but ends with being a light and joy to those in my life.

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