This year for Lent, I vowed to stop complaining. I was inspired by Our Pastor’s Ash Wednesday sermon in which she pointed out how many things were so very, very wonderful in the world – and how complaining poisons the wonderful. She was, actually, reflecting upon herself and that reflection touched me to my core. Not only that she would bare herself so fully with Us, Her Congregation – but – because I could relate so strongly.
That night I shared this vow with my Husband. Suddenly my less-than-religious Husband was in love with the idea of Lent. He wanted to know exactly how long it lasted and told me stories about how all the Catholic kids in grade school would give up gum and candy and then couldn’t wait for their Easter baskets filled with sworn off treats.
Yeah. Poor guy, as it turns out, the Mrs. can bit*h with the best of them.
In setting out to ‘give up complaining’ I became, not surprisingly, very aware of how complaining was a way of life in our household. I felt like I was always a hot second away from complaining about something which left me feeling weak, anxious and bitter. Let’s forget any vows to the Lord for a moment and remember that my husband, my dear sweet amazing (and he really is) husband was thrilled by the prospect of 40 days free from my whining. That meant I was whining a lot more than I even realized and frankly, the idea of letting him down left me brokenhearted.
While reflecting upon this state of affairs, my quieted mind – where all of our answers lie – bloomed and offered the true Lenten Sacrifice. This wasn’t really about how not to complain – though that’s how I phrased it. The true intention was to be mindful when I had the impulse to complain and ask myself why. Why complain so bitterly about things I have zero control over – like sky-high tax rates or more snow in the forecast. From that moment forward I have simply, silently reflected on what I could do, think or say differently to change my perception of said situation. And in doing that I learned to simply let go of what I couldn’t change.
Letting go wasn’t easy, after all I’ve been an Olympic caliber complainer for much of my life and the familiar of our daily routine dies hard, even when we realize it does not serve us. In practice of this lesson I began to notice how wonderful my life is and true to every saying on the subject – the more I noticed the more there was to notice and so my gratitude practice was born.
To those of you who celebrate the Holiday I wish you a Happy Easter. May this time of renewal find you grateful for the many, very, very wonderful things in your life, too.
PS: just a note about complaining and the Hubby. Like any people who spend so much time together we feed off each other’s moods. So bad day at work for him can lead to a crankier than usual me by 9pm – you get the picture I’m sure. I’m very happy to report that my being mindful = a much more mindful, peaceful household.