It’s the start of a new year, right? Time for inspiration, revelation or at least a resolution or two.
Dieting? Already doing that – doctor’s orders. Mike and I are both using a tracking tool called myfitnesspal.com, and he’s more self-controlled than I am. I’ve lost about 5 in the past two months and have 20 to go to reach the goal my doctor recommends. Yikes. Like discipleship, it’s gonna be a long obedience in the same direction. (And since my primary care physician is a female my age, I can’t even play the my-metabolism-is-slowing-down card.)
Fitness? Yep, working on it. I have watched Mike head out to swim laps at 6 am for decades, and I’m finally getting myself moving consistently as well. Elliptical trainer at the gym; workout DVDs at home.
Reading through the Bible in a year? Mike has done this for years because nothing is more important to him than hearing from God. I cannot substitute the reading I do for my classes or the prep for retreats for time alone in the Word.
You’d think my husband’s attention to physical and spiritual disciplines would have rubbed off on me after 35 years together, but you don’t catch them by contact. Instead you have to emulate them by example.
When Mike is vexed by a problem, he takes it straight to the top, to the only One who can truly do anything about it. Solutions for him are nearly always Spirit-directed. I admire this in him, because it makes him among other things a superb listener. He has little need to complain to others when he already has the ear of the Holy One.
Yours truly, on the other hand, is a verbal processor. When I am vexed, worried, bothered or bewildered I voice my fears aloud, and to my ears, at least, it’s come to sound like complaining. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Apostle Paul’s charge to the church at Philippi to “do everything without complaining and arguing,” (Phil 2:14) and it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, good old Paul actually meant it.
So I am dubbing 2012 The Year of Living Uncomplainingly.
See why I am scared to write this post? What if someone (say you, for example) is actually reading this and lovingly holds me accountable? Sheesh. Do you know how hard it is to get through even one day without being verbally grouchy, grumpy, crabby or cranky? (THERE. See what I mean?! I can’t even write a post about complaining without whining about it.)
Seriously, this YOLU-stuff is harder than it sounds. If you resolve not to be a whiner, how do you avoid the everything-in-my-life-is-so-perfect Pollyanna Syndrome?
In her book Grumble Hallelujah, Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira makes a terrific case for honesty.
“I’m no Pollyanna,” she writes. “I don’t wake up with a song in my heart or one coming from the little baby bluebirds chirping outside my window. In sharp contrast to a friend of mine who once told me the first thing in her head every morning when she woke up is, I love being a mom. I have a great life! the first thing in my head every morning is, Morning already? You’ve got to be kidding! or its cousin, Can’t these kids sleep?!”
So if Living Uncomplainingly is not Pollyanna Pretense, what does it look like? What happens when you have legitimate reasons to protest or a need to offer constructive criticism?
I’m trying to figure this out in the year ahead, and you’re invited along on the journey. And if you catch me fussing about something, you have my permission to post a comment that simply says “Whine Alert” (or Waa!).
Living Uncomplainingly, after all, may just have something to do with remembering what we have rather than what we lack. Focusing on being thankful more than being fretful. Putting others’ needs before our own.