It’s interesting how small things sometimes stick with us and turn over in our minds again and again, or maybe appear in incidences of life. Maybe it’s a picture. Maybe it’s a phrase. Maybe it’s a problem, but sometimes those thoughts tumble over and over in your memory. That’s what happened to me some years ago. I had stopped to get gas and as I was filling up, a man on the other side of the pump was also getting gas. I spoke to him and he spoke to me. I saw that he was wearing a pin. It was about three inches across, a rather large pin that was one of those with a circle around the outside and a bar running diagonally through it meaning, “No.” You see them on signs in places that don’t want you to bring a weapon, for example. Those signs have a circle around an image of a gun with the diagonal bar running across the gun. That model is also used on signs blocking entrance into a building or a road; they let us know we can’t come in.
The pin the man was wearing that day at the gas pump had the word, “Whining,” in the middle of the circle with the diagonal bar running across it. The message it was transmitting was obviously, “No Whining.” I asked, “Where did you get that?” He told me he got it from his daughters. They gave it to him and told him to stop whining so much. I said, “Really?” He said, “Yeah, really.” He admitted to that rather sheepishly, but at the same time with a little bit of pride in his daughters. I asked him, “Is it working?” He was honest enough to say, “No, but I have come to realize I whine a lot more than I thought I did.”
I’ve not seen those pins for sale and I’ve never seen anybody else wearing one just like it, though I’ve seen several people to which you might want to give one. What in the world is “whining,” anyway? The dictionary defines it pointedly and understandably when it says whining is to complain in an annoying way. That kind of covers the subject. I’ve known people through the years who either had exercised whining so much they had gotten excellent at it, or they had received the spiritual gift of whining (if there is such a thing) because they were obviously so good at it.
It’s one of those things that, to be good at it, is bad. Years ago a man in one of the churches I pastored loved to whine about everything, especially everything church related. He not only whined about everything, he occasionally came by just to update me with the latest whining report. He shared with me what “they” said and what “they” thought. I discovered over time “they” were sometimes actually his own echo. A lot of his whining was expressing his personal views. He was so good at it that after several years of listening to his whining I asked, “Have you ever known or do you know one single thing that is good about our church or anything that is good that is going on in our church?” He seemed shocked and said, “Well, yeah. There’s a lot of good things about our church and there’s a lot of good things that are going on.” I said, “Well, name one.” He couldn’t think of anything, but he was insistent that there are some good things.
In reality, all he ever looked at or talked about or expressed to me or anyone else was a whining complaint about stuff with which he didn’t agree. It didn’t have to be a big thing. It could be a one-degree difference in the temperature, or one too many songs in the Sunday worship service, or the service going five minutes longer than he thought that it should have. The whining was bigger than the problem.
Whining is an unbecoming behavior, whether it’s committed by a child or an adult. Have you ever seen a four-year-old that didn’t get his or her way and they began whining and complaining before they start crying and demanding their way? Whining, rather than being uplifting and helpful, is negative — even hurtful — and nobody particularly likes to see someone doing it.
I have noticed that usually when people are whiners, they only see about half of life and it’s always the down side. You can say, “What a beautiful day it is!” and their response will be, “Yeah, but it’s supposed to be bad weather tomorrow.” Really? However it’s used and wherever you hear it, it remains unbecoming and especially when you see it draped on the faces and in the lives of adults.
Another thing about whining is that it is unproductive. Rarely if ever does a whining sound or expression ever turn into something wonderful and good. It does not bless, build, or bring joy. Almost every aspect of whining is a downer.
A third thing, and maybe the most important thing that I would point out about whining, is that it seems to be an experience of untrusting our Lord. People who complain about everything unknowingly spend some of that time complaining about things God has provided. If you trust God completely, you trust Him when the good things come and also when the bad things arrive. He cares for you in the good and the awkward, and at times He will allow the awkward and the not-so-good to come and help shape and reshape our character.
If God is God — and He is — and if God is powerful, trust Him. Look to Him. Lean on Him and allow Him to do what He wants to do without your constant whining and complaining. Talk to the Lord about what He would have you to do and ask Him help you to rise above a complaining spirit. That’s what I am going to pray right now: Dear Father, keep me from being a whiny person, and beyond that, Lord, help me to forgive me of my attitude when I hear other people whining. I ask you to please deliver me from whining about people whining. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.