Archive for February, 2010

It’s Lent!  The usual response is to give up something you absolutely LUST for throughout the year…sweets, meat, strong drink.  That’s all fine and good.  But, I’ve taken another tact.  When my now-adult children were kids, I encouraged them to give up something that was less tangible…a bad habit!   The idea is to give up something negative and replace it with something positive.   Hopefully, the experience will allow more positive behaviors to become engrained as a new habit…one that will edify, encourage and inspire new character! 

To demonstrate to my kids, I chose to give up COMPLAINING and replace it with GRATITUDE!   It’s twenty-some years later and I’m still giving up complaining for Lent.    Unfortunately, I still seem to have complaining to give up every year, but it always results in fascinating experiences…actually…miracles of a sort.  One year my husband and I down-sized from a 5,000 square foot home to a 1,400 square foot apartment.  That was a MAJOR challenge…moving without complaining.  I realized how important it was to INTENTIONALLY replace complaining with gratitude.  It’s not enough to just let go of something…you have to intentionally grab hold of something SPECIFIC!  I had lots of practice catching myself in the middle of a juicy whine, pausing and just saying “Thank you, God, that this is happening the way it is.”    Or, whipping out a “Something good is going to come out of this…thank you, Lord!”

A couple years later, we were making another move to gain more storage space.  We found a lovely apartment complex nestled among  well-treed, rolling green hills with babbling brooks.  We spent weeks getting everything packed for the movers and two days before the big move, began trekking bags and boxes to the new apartment.     The night before the movers were scheduled to deliver the big stuff, I carried boxes down to the lower level family room and stepped into 4 inches of water!   After grabbing the “oh SH…” out of the air and stuffing it back into my mouth, I declared that this was a “good thing”.  Three hours and four intentionally congenial, “non-complaining-conversations -with-management” later, we were on our way to another apartment within the complex.  I kept saying “it’s a good thing that this happened this way.”  And it actually WAS!  They moved us to a much better location…quieter, more private with a fabulous view of hills, trees and brooks!  We even had a herd of deer that visited us several days a week.  Our two Welsh Corgis were on “deer watch” every night for doggie entertainment!

Of course, life has given me far more potentially devastating challenges to face with gratitude…job losses, health issues and a major family crisis.   And, in every case, focusing on gratitude in spite of the disappointment, pain or fear, we experienced awesome results.  So I’m grateful for the season of Lent.   Once again I can choose to recognize complaining and practice conscious, intentional gratitude.   Scripture instructs us to “give thanks for all things.”   It’s amazing how gratitude allows unexpected blessings to pour in!!   Thank you, God!

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