Preface 1 – A Word about the Timeline
I apologize that the timing on this blog isn’t quite right. I began to write it on Wednesday, but haven’t found the time to finish it until today. Rewriting the beginning to match the true timeline with today would be awkward. Yet printing the blog with a false timeline bothers me. It seems untruthful. So, please don’t hold me to dates, but the blog reflects how it happened. It just took me a few days to get it all on paper (so to speak).

Preface 2 – A Word to the Men
Guys, I suspect that you would never characterize yourself as “whining.” It’s way too girly, I know. I also know (because I’ve been married to one of you for a very long time) that your equivalent of whining is getting annoyed and venting about it, i.e., grumbling. It’s that pre-anger stage you go through. So when you see the word “whine” in this blog, substitute “grumble” or “complain with annoyance/anger.” The primary difference between a whine and a grumble is the pitch of our voice!

From Celebration to Whine
Two weeks ago today I had surgery. Two days later I learned that I do not have cancer! Hallelujah!

Today I just want to whine!

I was preparing to meet some friends for breakfast – girlfriends who get together monthly to encourage one another to reach higher heights in business and life. When I began to think about the opening conversations we’d have, I realized that in response to the question “how are you” I just wanted to whine. I wanted to tell them about the minor discomfort and disabilities associated with recovering from the surgery.

How very self-centered I am! How ungrateful I am! Less than two weeks after learning that my life will not be significantly impacted by medical issues in the coming months, less than two weeks after not receiving what could have been life-threatening news, I just want to complain because I have a few restrictions and some discomfort! I don’t like the picture this paints of me.

So I am disciplining myself to celebrate.

It doesn’t seem like the words “disciplining myself” should be combined with “to celebrate” but they do. Celebrating usually includes some degree of festivities – special food, exuberance, balloons, laughter, and dancing. It’s happy face time. Discipline doesn’t include festivities – it brings to mind the sober, perhaps even somber face, as we get serious about things and exercise self-control. Yet there is a valid, even vital relationship between them.

The purpose of disciplining ourselves – of exercising self control – is to bring our actions in line with God’s guidelines for living. One of those guidelines is to quit complaining – stop the whining!

Do everything without complaining or arguing
Philippians 2:14 (NIV)

When we live according to God’s plan, our soul prospers and joy, from the depths of our spirit, follows. Is it an immediate consequence? Not necessarily. But it is a promised one. We live with the consequences of the choices we make, so from an earthly perspective our circumstances don’t necessarily change immediately. But in the spiritual realm and in our heart, changes begin to happen.

What kinds of things happen when we choose to celebrate instead of whine? In the spirit realm, we are blessing instead of cursing. We are speaking our “amen” to the good things that God has done – we are making them known, giving Him praise and saying “thank You” all at once. We are cultivating a grateful heart. And we are being obedient – we are disciplining ourselves to live as God instructs us to live.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

When I discipline myself to celebrate, I am embracing the lifestyle and character of Christ. I am becoming more like the One to whom I pledge my allegiance and declare my desire to follow. And in so doing, I apprehend the grace God has for me in that area. He will enable me to do that which I have set my heart to do when it is in accordance with His will.

On the other hand, when I choose to whine and complain instead of celebrate, different things happen in the spiritual realm. In the following verse, Paul is referring to men and women who have rejected God. Paul writes that God has revealed himself to them but they have not responded to Him:

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.
Romans 1:21-22 (NIV)

21Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. 22Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead.
Romans 1:21-22 (NLT)

I believe there is a connection between an ungrateful heart and a spiritual darkness that brings confusion and foolish actions. When we discipline ourselves to consistently and regularly rejoice over what God has done in our lives, we reinforce in our minds and spirits truths about who God is and how He interacts with His people. When we allow complaining and whining to take center stage, we reinforce lies that the enemy is whispering in our ears – God doesn’t love you, God doesn’t provide what you need, God isn’t interested in blessing you, God is not good to you. Your thinking becomes “futile” and you begin to think up “foolish ideas” about God, His character and His actions. Ultimately, your heart and mind become “dark and confused.” That sounds a lot to me like the description of depression. I’ve experienced serious depression. Dark and confused does a pretty good job of describing it. I didn’t like it. I prefer the happy face of celebration. That means no whining.

The Ubiquitous Caveats
Please know that I am not talking about sharing legitimate needs with friends and asking them to pray. We should always be quick to do that. And when my need to whine threatens to jeopardize my long-term attitude, that becomes a prayer request – not the things I want to whine about, but the fact that I have lost a grateful heart.

Also, please know that I am not minimizing the recovery from clinical depression to simply celebrating and not whining. Clinical depression is a serious condition that requires more than this simple discipline. I am saying, though, that resisting whining will help the healing process and any step you make toward celebrating will help you apprehending the healing grace God has for you.

A Call to Greater Love
Finally, as I thought about this whole issue, I realized how guilty I am of allowing others to whine in my presence. How many times have you said to a friend, or had a friend say to you “I just want to whine a little.” I would bet that the most common response, “Go ahead, girlfriend. You can vent with me.” It’s well meant – giving an ear to hear and a shoulder to cry on. But isn’t there a time and place to say “Friend, I love you and if you need prayer, I want to pray for you. But I also want you to experience all God has for you. First, let’s spend some time celebrating what God is doing in your life”?  I’d like to encourage all of us to help one another “grow up” in Christ by helping one another be better than we sometimes (in weak moments) want to be.

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