Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
as long as they keep their mouths shut, they're smart.
Proverbs 17:28 (The Message)
I know that, in life, it's honestly all relative.
For instance, the frustration felt by the housewife who is trying desperately to run a household which employs four gardeners and several housekeepers, battling the pressure to keep up appearances of perfection and the loneliness of isolation, can be crushing.
It's almost impossible to avoid the commentary that must address that, though: I should be so lucky to have the frustration of managing my housekeeper. I'm happy to pay all my bills this month, one woman says. I think I could make myself get over the whole "keeping up with the Joneses" thing-- let's see that lady deal with sucking up your pride at the grocery store when you run out of money at the cash register because you just knew you stuck two twenties in your purse, but there's only one.
Lady One argues back (in my mind), You don't know what I feel. You don't know the horror I deal with daily. At least your husband is home. At least he loves you. At least you know for sure that he's not sleeping with his secretary.
Lady Two considers her luck in that area, but barks back, At least your husband has a job.
And it can go on and on.
So I recognize that so many things are relative-- one person complains about their crappy car situation while his neighbor wishes getting his car fixed was the only thing on his list of things to do after dialysis. The guy with dialysis guy complains about his health while the woman in the butt kicking dream car next to him just lost her job, her home, and her best friend.
I'm not trying to bum anyone out. I promise. It's just kind of what I've been saying to myself about complaining lately. But then, I was listening to this woman talk (I didn't know her, so if we're friends and you had this same tirade in a grocery store lately, don't worry!! It's not you!)-- granted, she really seemed to have a lot on her, but I wanted to hit her in the face. I wanted to scream, "Shut your stupid mouth" and pull her hair.
Surprised? Sorry. I've only ever thought about doing things like that...
That woman was complaining about the curse and burden her two lovely children were to her today. She was tired. Her youngest son, an infant, has been colicky lately, and she was spewing complaints all over, wishing that he had a "mute" button (I've heard that one several times in the last two weeks-- so weird).
You know where I'm going with this...
That woman probably has other stresses that she's not as comfortable blabbing about in a public forum, but the anger I felt listening to her was directly related to this. "YOUR BABIES ARE ALIVE," I wanted to yell at her. At least your son has living tear ducts to cry from! You can hold him to your heart, lady, and he will eventually calm down, and I know you're tired, but you sound like a spoiled brat. You sound like that girl on Willie Wonka that everyone cheered for when she blew up (is that right? It's been so long since I saw that movie... I just remember that I hated her and we all clapped when she came to an end). You have everything, everything, and you want to mute your child?
But it's all relative. Maybe her husband is a jerk. Mine's pretty great. Maybe her living situation is rocky. Mine is stable and comfortable.
Or maybe she just doesn't know what she has.
Okay, I'm convicted. I'll pray for this stranger, that she will know as deeply as she has ever known anything that she is a mother who is richly blessed. And just like I need to cry out to the Father to help me remember how extraordinarily blessed I am, I will pray for her that she will remember the women who long for babies to comfort.
How different would this place be if we stopped complaining? If we were ever aware of how bad it makes us sound, and how it sometimes serves to highlight what other people lack? How amazing would this life be if we focused on the things that inspired our gratitude instead of the things that inspire our grief?
There's a key to something eternal here. If God is the point to everything-- every day, every mundane thing, all of our breaths and blinks of our eyes-- then it should all somehow lead back to Him.... My friend Matt used to say that the secret password into the Holy of Holies is "Thank you"....
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.