February 7, 2009 by Stacy McDonald

Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me…

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"Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep, dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. Gloom, despair, and agony on me" - Hee Haw

I know. I know. You thought that song was out of your head for good. Sorry. Who would have guessed that God would turn something like an old Hee Haw song into a teaching tool for my children…and for me.

A few weeks ago, one of my young darlings described to me in detail how tired she was of the snow and ice that still blanketed the ground in muddy clumps. A few hours later she came to me, with a look of misery on her face, to show me the invisible spot on her elbow that “hurt.”

A few days later, she woke up claiming she was “too tired” to get dressed and make her bed (until there was talk of sledding outside). The day before that, she woke up complaining about how “unfair” a situation was between her and her sister and how selfish her brother was being at the breakfast table. The scowl on her face was enough to dampen the mood of the whole room.

A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” (Proverbs 27:15, NKJV)

With a dramatic moan, I began to sing to her, “Gloom, despair, and agony on me!” Then I gave her a hug and reminded her that we are not to be grumblers and complainers, walking according to the lusts of the flesh (Jude 16). While I wanted to hear when she was genuinely hurt or sick, I was concerned that she was making a habit of finding the worst in each situation – and in her siblings. Each sin has a root and I was concerned that what I was seeing was the budding of contention in her heart.

In a family, one of the worst things about the habit of complaining is that it is contagious. Since we typically complain to someone or about someone, we have the potential both to harm and to hinder our neighbor. In addition, we are communicating that we don’t trust God with our predicament and that we are unthankful for what He has done for us. In our state of discontent, we’re irritated by the neon speck in our brothers eye, while we’re blind to the two ton log in our own.

I realized today that it’s possible my sweet daughter inherited this nasty habit of complaining from me. Gasp! Do I murmur and complain? I had to ask myself.

I know for a fact that at any given moment I could give you a long list of all the things that “drive me crazy” about others in our household: An unwiped counter top, shoes thoughtlessly left on the floor to be tripped over, quarreling children, the words, “I can’t,” uttered during lessons, whining, toothpaste in the sink…the list goes on.

I could easily (and sometimes do) dwell on these things and verbalize aloud unrelenting, agonizing complaints to anyone who will listen… no really, I could – and sadly, often I do.

God gave to me my children to train and to teach about Him and His ways. And one of the best ways I can do that is by example. If I walk about the house complaining about my husband or my children, I am undoing the very thing I’m called to do. And I can expect to hear gloomy comments and complaints from my ever-attentive pupils.

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40, NKJV)

Though my children are my absolute delight, they are still children – children in need of training and correction. If they were already perfectly trained, they would no longer need me to instruct them. They are works in progress, as am I. We are all sinners in need of our Savior. We are all on the path of sanctification and we can’t expect perfection from anyone, even ourselves.

What character issues do you see in your son? Check your own heart and see if he hasn’t learned that irritating trait from his “teacher.” Where did your daughter get that disrespectful tone? Check your own tone toward your husband and see if she hasn’t been learning at your feet.

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

Today, purpose to find the best in each member of your family. Learn to be thankful for those “teaching moments” that drive you crazy and for those children who still need training. Make a new habit of turning each tempting moment of complaining and murmuring into a moment of thankfulness and rejoicing. Let us shine as lights in our families and beyond, holding fast to the Word of God and to Him who dwells in our hearts forever (Ephesians 3:17).

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17 Responses to “Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me…”

  1. Brandy Lynn says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Stacy. No doubt, it has come at a well needed time for me! Someone on an online forum I am apart of has encouraged us (Mothers) to really spend the next week working on the heartstrings of our family. What a timely reminder for me, as I set to really focus on my relationship with the Lord, and what my young children see (and mimic) in me. Thank you for sharing your heart. I, too, could likely give a list of “what bugs me”… but I wonder how quickly I could spout off a list of what I find blesses me. I really appreciate your blog post today.

  2. 5intow says:

    So true how the faults we fret over in our children often find an example in our own lives.

    I am working through Beautiful Girlhood with my 9 year old daughter and we have both found plenty to work on in its chapters. As I read your post I was thinking in particular of the chapter on bringing sunshine to our homes. We all have that opportunity and this was a great reminder to continue to encourage my children (and myself!) to shine His light in our home through our attitudes, words, and facial expressions.

    Thank you,

  3. jwcreath@gmail.com says:

    Thanks for the much needed reminder!

    Darleen Creath

  4. Thursday's Child says:

    Excellent post! I certainly hear my voice coming from my children at times and it’s not so good.

    BTW, I wonder if I can find that song on LimeWire? LOL

  5. Tina says:

    Thank you for those words of wisdom and timely reminder. I really needed to hear that and appreciate you sharing with us.

  6. gloria says:

    Fanstastic post , stacy and I agree whole heartedly!! I have noticed somethings in my home that I know the children have picked up from me…… sad to say, but true….. we are all a work in process… but as mothers there is so much more accountability before the Lord. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to be “on” all the time — that is always the example, but at the same time it is a blessed duty that we have, because we are held accountable and thus perhaps we exert more efforts to be “quick to hear and slow to speak” ……..
    That is my memory verse this week from James.
    God bless all of us who are in the throngs of raising children – that we may do it in accordance to His word and may it be pleasing to our Lord.
    Blessings from another mom of 10 ~

  7. the Pollock family says:

    Wonderful encouragement! Thanks for sharing from your life.
    Sherry P.

  8. Lanita says:

    Thank you, Stacy. I was just telling a friend of mine last week, that I felt God telling me that all the complaints I have with my girls are things that I need to work on. I really appreciated your article. It really spoke to where I am at. I am going to print it out to remind myself of what I NEED to work on.

  9. Mom_E says:

    I know the Hee Haw song as well, and sing it every so often :-). But what I really needed was the reminder to look at myself in the mirror, and not just at the shoes spilling out of the closet. Thanks, Stacy!

    Blessings to you and yours- stay warm!

    Sarah E.

  10. Amy says:

    Thanks so much for this great council. I just wanted to take a minute to let you know that I have been reading your site for over 2 years now. I began reading here right after my first child was born (now have 2), and God used your council and encouragement to cultivate truth in my heart regarding so many “issues” in my life. Now 2 plus years later, He is still working through things, but now I have such a better persepctive of what my “sacred calling” truly is. As a “recovering feminist”, I have learned so very much from your writings (and your book) about the joys and fullness of being what God created me to be. So, thank you so much for pouring out your heart here. This is one woman whom God has truly used your ministry to change — and one more household that is pressing on to be separate and holy in this very messed up world. Your precious and gentle spirit shines through your words, and I am so very grateful that you choose to share them with all of us who visit here. Blessings you and yours!

  11. Elaine says:

    Thank you for a great reminder. :)

    Just wanted to let you know that I recently finished reading your “Passionate Housewives” book. Thank you for the encouragement and wisdom you and Jennie gave.
    God bless!

  12. Mrs. Rabe says:

    Thank you Stacy for these wise words and the great reminder of how our children are still in training. What a blessing to be given this task by our Lord, but at times it is overwhelming. I am so thankful for His grace and mercy to us all, as we grow!

  13. Step says:

    Amen! Thanks for the timely reminder. One of my favorite sayings is that you can’t expect your children to be what you are not. I forget where I read that, but how true. I will be working extra hard this week to have a bright spirit and frame of mind.

  14. Lea says:

    I seriously needed to hear this today! I think I started grumbling before my eyes were even open!! But since HE commands us to put those things behind us and press on… I’m going to get up from the computer and praise HIM, the giver and creator of ALL things through the rest of my day

    I appreciate it!!

  15. Stacy McDonald says:

    Amy, thank you for writing. It’s amazing how much God can use the disasters in our lives. Praise Him!

  16. The Dischers says:

    Hey! Have you been in my house lately? Those examples sounded all too familiar ;)

    Thanks for a convicting and refocusing post!

    God Bless!
    Beth Discher

  17. Tracylea says:

    Stacy, thank you so much, this really hit home. So much so that I have given you an award for your wonderful article, it is the Cluck Cluck award. You can see it here http://citychickcountrychickens.blogspot.com/2009/02/stacy-at-your-sacred-calling-gets-cluck.html . Thank you again.


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