Complaints vs Questions
Part of my (not-so-) glamorous job is to help clients with one of their software applications they use on a daily basis to log their work projects and time. Sometimes it involves enhancing the system for them, and sometimes it involves retraining them on how to be better users.
I had an experience this morning with a particular user that taught me a little bit about how or why God answers prayers, or answers some more readily than others. This is one of the “train them to be better users of the software” parts of my job description. They’ve been generally not entering their data correctly, so not all the management and executive reports match or are accurate.
The client I worked with this morning was nothing but complaints. “It’s time consuming. It’s hard. It cuts into my time. It’s unnecessary. It’s bean-counting. It’s too many clicks. I’ve worked here for 15 years and the company should just trust I’m doing what I say I will.” Imagine a human version of Eeyore blasting nothing but complaints for me for 10 minutes, and you can picture what my first meeting of the day was like.
I said, “Okay,” at intervals. And sometimes, “Yep. I understand.” But I couldn’t fix anything for him because there was nothing to fix. Nothing was broken, to begin with. Also, there was nothing to fix because he wasn’t asking any questions, just griping.
Finally he decided he’d let me do what I came to do in the first place. As he was showing me his process, he started whining about how time consuming a particular step was. In his mournful Eeyore way he said, “I wish there was a better way to do this part.” I said, “Oh, there actually is an easier and quicker way to do that step.” I showed him how to improve it, and he was delighted. Nearly ecstatic.
I caught a glimpse of what I must sometimes look like to Heavenly Father. How many times I have done nothing but complain to the Heavens about my life, or perceived challenges. Just as I sat patiently next to this client and listened to him complain, I could see Heavenly Father also sitting, listening to be moan, murmur, make a fuss, and wail about my problems.
And as clearly as I saw that, I also understood that prayers aren’t going to be answered while we’re busy complaining. First, we are not close to having a responsive heart or listening ears to any help that might come if we’re only in complaining mode.
And second, when we’re busy complaining, we’re not actually asking questions.
Same old thing we already know – we don’t get help if we don’t ask for it. And we don’t ask for it while all we’re doing is focusing on the negative.
We are not going to receive answers if we are too busy complaining.
99% of the worlds problems could be solved if we just figured out how to properly ask questions…
And then listen to the answers.
Okay so maybe 60% of the problems. The other 40% is knowing how to ask follow up questions and then knowing what to do with the answers you get.
Have Ye Inquired of the Lord?
But you at least have to ask. When Laman and Lemuel (those villainized professional murmurers) were whinging about not understanding a particular gospel principle the way Nephi did, they admitted they hadn’t even bothered asking because “…the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.” (1 Nephi 15:9.)
In verse 11, Nephi outlines the pattern to use when we want answers to our questions. “If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask (the Lord) in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping (my) commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.”
The answers do not always come immediately – and perhaps that’s the very thing Laman and Lemuel feared, was not getting an answer at all. But you have to at least ask. “Following this pattern does not mean that every time we ask a question of God, the answer will immediately appear with every detail of what to do. However, it does mean that if we diligently keep the commandments and ask in faith, answers will come in the Lord’s own way and in His time.” (Barbara Thompson, “Personal Revelation and Testimony,” October 2011 General Conference.)
Asking is imperative. Patience is not optional. Complaining doesn’t cut it. You have to be willing to ask. And if the answer doesn’t come the first or the ninetieth time, rephrase the question until the answer does come. It will. But not if you keep kvetching about it.