Complaining, Church, Frustration & Real Talk

‘You can build and whinge, build and not whinge or not build at all.’

These were the words that came to me as I hung up the phone. I’d just finished venting to my oversight about my current frustrations.

I’m a frustrated person by nature, perhaps you wouldn’t pick it; but at the core it’s usually frustration fueling my desire for change, to make plans, to dream, to seek, to pray.

It’s not a nice word: frustration. It’s not a nice feeling either which is why I was having the conversation in the first place. My frustration levels had peaked.

I was frustrated with being involved at Church. It’s ok to be real, isn’t it? I’m sure you’ve had those feelings too, at some point. These particular feelings had me wondering if I was cut out for leadership at all. It would be easier to turn the other way and let someone else be in the complaining seat right?

Ok, I sound like a grump. I’m not. I’m deeply convinced that the local Church is the hope of the world and I want to give my life to seeing Her (the Church) be all she can be. But I’m an imperfect person aligning myself with other imperfect people and we’re on a journey. And so, at times I get frustrated.

This was the dilemma.

Pulled over on the side of the road, patient two-year-old in the back, I sat venting my complaints about the Church; the Bride of Christ, the very thing Christ gave His life for and the very thing I love; and it was tearing me up inside. Something had to change.

Apparently that something was me.

You can build and whinge, build and not whinge, or not build at all.

It was wisdom bubbling up. The Bible says our heart instructs us in the night season and I guess my complaints had brought in clouds the shade of night.

The wisdom that surfaced was truth, it pierced the darkness and it was good for my soul. Regardless of its validity, my venting about things that could be done better wasn’t changing anything except making me more frustrated. I was tearing down with my words, the very thing I was investing my life into to build.

How many other things do we say we are seeking to build yet we tear down with our words? Our businesses, our loved ones? Pretty scary hey? Our words carry creative power.

God had my attention. A crossroad like that requires an immediate answer. All I’ve ever wanted to do was build the church so stepping back wasn’t an option. My complaining needed to cease.

In my daily devotions two weeks later, I read:

Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord. Exodus 16:8 NKJV

Immediately I thought about complaints I’d been voicing to friends and family lately. This time not about Church just a personal situation.

I won’t go into detail but perhaps, just to relate, insert your own complaint-worthy personal stress: a clash with a boss, a friend, a family member, that lady in that shop…

When things feel unjust, we feel the need to vent. Sometimes life is real, and stuff hurts. In my particular circumstance venting and praying wasn’t helping and instead bitterness was taking root in my heart. The more I talked about it and couldn’t move on.

The Word of God shone a light this time on the reality and breadth of what I was doing:

When I complain against XYZ, my complaints are not against XYZ they are against the Lord.  Essentially, I’m saying His creation; that person or that situation; is not good enough and I don’t trust what He is doing. I’m saying that His grace is not enough to cover the flaws I see.


Here I was with my judgemental pants on, pointing out the faults He sent His Son to cover. Regardless of the situation, by complaining it was me who was wrong.

Repentance led me to ask God to help me see things as He sees them.

Loving without measure is an opportunity for true worship.

This whole revelation and series of events happened midway through last year, so it’s a little strange to share it now. But if I’m honest, I want to give expression to the journey because everyday complaints are still sneaking through the cracks. There’s something about putting pen to paper, or words on a screen, that make God’s promptings speak all that much louder.

I’m ready to quit complaining, for good. The big ones that matter and the small insignificant ones that don’t really ever need a mention. The kids were misbehaving, my coffee was gross, the cost of living is skyrocketing… We could go on, couldn’t we? But we won’t because we want to frame 2017 differently, don’t you agree?

Are you ready to quit complaining with me?

What’s God prompting you to step into or address at the moment?

I’ll leave you with this:

Every time you criticise someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanours. 

You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness, he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change. Romans 2: 1-4 MSG

Here’s to a radical life change,

Carly Riordan




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3 thoughts on “Complaining, Church, Frustration & Real Talk

  1. Thanks for your honesty, Carly. You make some great points. I think there is a place for talking things over with others (not just to stuff down) though perhaps it depends on were the focus is, that is, is about venting our frustation and blaming someone else for it or is it about exploring our feelings and looking for solutions.

  2. Thanks for having the honesty to share that, Carly. Too bad it doesn’t relate to me. Oh wait … I was confusing myself with someone else. It does relate to me! Just last week, I was having dinner with friends and found myself being critical about a Christian message someone had given at an event I attended. I was halfway through voicing my objections when I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit saying, ‘What are you doing?’ Oops. I think when we’re passionate about things, it’s easy to be frustrated, but that doesn’t give us the right to be critical. It’s a big learning curve for me. Thanks for the extra nudge 🙂

    1. Ah that’s so true- when are passionate about something it easy to be frustrated and critical. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts Nola.

      Carly xx

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