(This isn’t one of them.)
A short while ago, the Dearliest and Arc were out shopping and included in their purchases some lovely flowers for me (two geraniums and a purple rhododendron, for my gardening friends). Whilst putting them in the back of the van, Arc said he was glad he and the Dearliest got flowers for me, and he was sure I would like them.
An older couple overheard, and the husband chuckled with a comment along the lines of, “Yes! You get her flowers, and no complaining allowed for 24 hours.” The wife rolled her eyes.
The Dearliest, ever my champion, returned with several long sentences. He appreciates very much that I actually try very hard to not complain as I go through life, and he was quick to inform them.
The husband looked surprised. The wife looked guilty.
The Dearliest said they clearly got along well, and they loved each other dearly, but their reaction suggested that it never occurred to them that something they accepted as normal might not, in fact, be in every marriage.
(Side note: I’m not pretending here to be better than her, or anyone. I’m not perfect, and just because I don’t complain doesn’t mean I don’t have other facets that need work. I need lots of work, but fortunately God has a vision for that, and He can help me with my faults and failings. There are a lot. But I digress.)
It was a day or so later that I thought of the above story, then had a flash of my 11 year old self pushing a full cart of horse manure across a muddy, mucky dirt driveway. The stables I worked at had one muddy spot in particular that seemed to collect all the grossness of horses and dirt in one big puddle during the winter months. You had to go through it to get to the manure pile. It was nasty.
“Ew! Do you see what you’re walking through?” a young tag-a-long asked, taking the wide way around.
I simply answered, “If you don’t look at it, you don’t see it.”
“Oh,” she said after a thoughtful pause.
The memory made me laugh out loud, but then the more I thought about it, the more I realized it kinda fit. A person is constantly moving forward, usually with goals, a destination, a place in life s/he wants to be.
Sometimes mud puddles pop up underfoot, and it’s so easy to complain about the lack of money, the ancient car you have to drive, beans for dinner 5 days in a row, the leaky pipe in the bathroom, and (especially for busy moms) having no time for yourself. Mud puddles come in all shapes and sizes.
But if you choose to not look at it, then you don’t see it. And if you don’t see it, you have nothing to complain about.
I know there are weeds in the garden, but I focus on the flowers while I spend time washing dishes. I Greatly Dislike the steep stairs to the basement, but I focus on the wonderful working washing machine down there with every careful step down and it’s not so bad. I want to cry sometimes when I need a rest and the two youngest just. Won’t. Quit. Finding. Trouble. But then I remember how quickly this will be gone, and I clean up the baby powder strewn about the room (yes, AGAIN) with more patience.
It’s not easy, and it takes work, but it IS possible to not see the mud puddles.
More Side Notes:
*Extra clarification–I am NOT comparing my marriage to a muck puddle, guys. I’m not talking about marriage here, I’m talking about complaining.
*Further clarification–This post is referring to petty complaints. Naggy things women (and men, but mostly women) tend to dwell on and blame other people for while ignoring the possibility that maybe they can change their attitude and make things better.
*Addendum thought–To successfully do this, it’s essential to be properly equipped. The shoes I wore when I walked through the muck puddle were tall rubber boots. Waterproof. Leg protection. I wasn’t going through it in sandals.