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When Prayers Turn Into Grumbling and How to Find Our Way Back to Gratitude

God put the seed of marriage and motherhood in my heart at a very early age.

I remember flipping through wedding magazines on the floor of my bedroom when I was just 11 years old. Crossed legged, I sat, carefully cutting out the beautiful gowns that I pictured myself walking down the aisle wearing. I added them to my wedding binder – already full of the important details for my big day. I was ready.

  • Wedding planned, check!
  • Names of my future kids, check!

While planning out the details of my life as a child was easy, finding Mr. Right and starting the life I had been ready for since elementary school, not so much…

After a couple of broken relationships, I didn’t know if I was ever going to marry.

I wondered if it was even possible to find the one, and for the one to love me back. The inability to become a wife and mom left me feeling broken and unworthy.

God Heard My Cries

Similar to the Israelites in Exodus 2:24 who cried out to God and “God heard the Israelites groaning,” God heard my prayers, my cries and the longing in my heart.

My dreams were mended in a beautiful way.

He took my loneliness away and blessed me with a man to love and children to mother. God brought me out of a life of singleness and into the land of plenty.

God provided.

Grumbling & Complaining

Not too long after the Israelites exodus out of Egypt and into freedom, and after giving God all the glory and praise, the grumbling and complaining began. I too, am guilty for rolling my eyes at the Israelites for their ungratefulness as I judged them for their lack of amazement of the wonderful miracles they witnessed.

Slaves to freedom! Hallelujah!

Parting of the Red Sea! Hallelujah!

Manna raining down from the sky! Hallelujah!

Before my eyes could even finishing rolling, I quickly realized how I am more like the Israelites than not. Their grumbling and complaining became a wall that blocked out the reality of the fact that God was literally traveling with them day and night.

My days are often met with more complaining, grumbling, and cries as I serve in the home and the people that I once had cried out to God for.

I am living out my dream in every way but the way I act doesn’t show this. My cries of disdain became louder than my praises and I became aware I needed a heart check.

I am no different.

I let my situation cloud my vision of God and all is blessings, of his work, and his promises because what I think is in front of me is not matching up to my expectation.

Remembering the Good Old Days

“Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” Exodus 14:12

My childhood prayers had been answered. Yet, as I sit in my home, I can easily find myself day dreaming of what life in my 20’s was like and romanticized how wonderful it was.

I can find myself reminiscing about life before kids as though it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I thought about all the freedom I had; amazing friends, laughter, no wrinkles, the ability to eat whatever I want, and of course all the sleep. I remember all the good things, the really good things.

But the truth is, if I could go back to my younger self, I would see the sadness and pain of not having what I currently have.

Oh, how I get confused when I am out in the wilderness!

My past becomes a mirage in the desert and a false safety-net because I know how things played out. Whereas my future is unknown and that can leave me feeling scared and running back to my comfort zone of familiarity.

In Exodus 14:12, the Israelites were quick to head back to slavery because they didn’t want to wait and rely on God. They weren’t happy with what God provided even though it was exactly what they were crying for back in Exodus 2:24. Freedom didn’t quite look exactly how they probably imagined it so they were quick to revert back to the safety of the known.

How I am so quick to forget, too.

Blessings on the Other Side of the Wilderness

Sometimes things happen in our life that are painful and not what we asked for. We struggle to trust that something better is waiting on the other side of the wilderness. It can feel impossible to see blessings when you are surrounded by dry desert in every direction…especially when it feels like you have been there forever.

I get it and I’ve been there.

When I am surrounded by painful things in my life, I find that I can close myself off from any goodness that might be right in front of me. I struggle to see the Truth in my situation and the ability to trust that something better is waiting on the other side of this barren land I feel that I am in.

The other side of the unknown feels scary and leaves me wanting to go back. Please not this way we beg God. Maybe we should turn around.

Like the Israelites, they couldn’t see past the manna because it wasn’t exactly how they pictured life out of Egypt to be like. It didn’t measure up to their expectations.

If they could have kept it together, their land of milk and honey was just waiting for them around the corner. Oh, if they knew how close they were to a break through. Friend, you are too. Hang in there, be obedient, and seek gratitude.

Your breakthrough is just on the other side of all of this.

Perspective is Key

Perspective is key in staying present to God’s gifts around you. When I take what I am feeling or how I see a certain situation in life and run it through God’s take on it, what a difference it makes in my life. If I start wishing for a time machine or feel unhappy with my life, I have to be strong enough to stop my thoughts and do a perspective shift!

I simply ask myself three questions

  • What am I focusing on,
  • How do I see God working in my life right now, and
  • What is God wanting me to learn from my current situation.

What a difference it makes when I align my thoughts with God. I can see those blessings around me easier, the ones I asked for and the ones I didn’t know I needed.

Both, Motherhood and marriage are beautifully woven with difficulties and tenderly sweet moments.

God has shown me through different seasons in the barren land of motherhood and marriage, my steady and joy are in Him and Him alone. Not the situations, not only when my expectations are met or whether my children are perfectly behaved.

Knowing that He is there with me, providing, and loving me through it all, is more than I could ever ask for.

Amber Palmer

Amber is a busy mom of two kiddos, wife, and blogger over at My Jars of Clay. When she is not homeschooling her daughter, you can find her writing to encourage other moms and helping them keep their focus on Jesus. Amber enjoys spending her time reading, singing when no one is around, and throwing random dance parties in her kitchen. She loves connecting with other moms in person and over on Instagram.

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