I make a distinction between whining and crying. Crying is usually legitimate whereas whining is never legitimate. I can be sympathetic to crying, but not to whining.
My son knows that I have a “no whining” policy. I simply won’t tolerate it –no matter what the cause of the whining.
He also knows that when he whines, I will always give him “Whine Talk 1.” I explain that whining indicates that the “whiner” feels unfairly wronged. And, while on the surface of the situation it may seem that an injustice has occurred, whining ignores a deeper issue: that all of life is a gift from God that we don’t deserve. Ultimately, to whine about anything is to ignore God’s goodness. Whining is an indictment against God.
But, there is another, more practical reason I dislike whining. It is very difficult to understand what my son is complaining about when he’s whining. I’m not a speech-path expert, but I’m pretty sure the act of whining interferes with his ability to speak clearly. I get frustrated having to repeatedly ask him, “What is the problem? What was that? I can’t understand you.”
Then, when I finally understand what he is saying, I realize that his “issue” is never the real “issue.” For instance, if he’s crying because he didn’t get a turn on the swing set, the issue is not the other kid on the playground’s rudeness, its really Bryce’s selfishness, jealousy, and lack of generosity.
It’s at that point that I end up giving him “Whine Talk 2.” This talk basically communicates the fact that whining never solves anything and ends with instruction to quit whining so that we can talk it out together.
I’m pretty sure I need the whine talks for myself occasionally. Most of the time, I find myself whining about my issues and God knows (literally) that they aren’t really my issues. Whining is just a guilty pleasure. And, just like any other guilty pleasure, the cumulative effect is always worse than the temporary pleasure.
You see, my whining is also an indictment against God –as if my wife’s death, my parenting difficulties, or my last fender-bender undermine His goodness and mercy in any way.
Really, the issue is not my “issues,” but instead my own lack of thankfulness and adoration toward God.
Mark it down, whining before God is never in order. Instead, I need to learn to “calm down, quit whining, and just talk it out with God.” He has given us the privilege to “Draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). And that’s nothing to whine about!