I’m not in airplane mode and I’m not camping off the grid this Monday. With functioning wifi and a sleeping baby, I suppose I can post tonight.
When November began, I naturally considered the concepts “thanks” and “giving.” I settled on “contentment,” and then flew to Texas for a Dia De Los Muertos wedding. We swiftly returned, and two days later, I found myself in a three season tent at the foothills of the Appalachians. It was when cold rain doused the rain fly and temperatures dipped into the 20s that I admitted what my focus really ought to be: the art of not complaining. Oh, I am so good at complaining.
The rain turned our campgrounds to pudding. The North Carolina ground skipped the mud phase and morphed into six-inch deep, frothy pudding. It took two nights of below freezing weather to harden the ground for better walking. I carried Abigail wherever I went, sometimes dragged her behind me in her stroller. Dried mud encased my boots and the stroller wheels. You should have seen the looks we got.
On the last night, in the nick of time, right when I thought I’d finally tell Zach how I felt about the whole experience, our neighbors lent us a small heater. It ran for two hours until their generator powered down for the night. The heat and our blankets-over-the-windows ingenuity kept us warm on the coldest it’d had been. When the sun popped over the ridge the next morning, it warmed everything. We shed layers. I was blissful as we packed up camp.
And I was blissful because I’d held my tongue so many times. I hadn’t even complained about it to my mother when I got service on a provisions run to Hendersonville. The fact that I had not littered my mind and the cold air with my complaints was refreshing. I think Zach noticed.
But, I know he noticed that sometimes I was unhappy, that sometimes I was complaining internally. (It can’t be hard to tell when a pregnant woman like me is displeased.) It was on a rainy afternoon waiting for Zach in the cold tent, entertaining a restless Abigail, that I realized not complaining is much more than holding my tongue. It’s an entire attitude shift.
James talks about the tongue being impossible to tame. It can be done for a while if I try real hard. Eventually, something negative flickers, be it ever so subtle. And as for the attitude, that is a heart issue I cannot even begin to tame alone.
Though I made progress in self-control, I realized the art of complaining is a root issue that needs the work of a skilled Savior.
As you feel Thanksgiving week fly by, and as you worry about menus and baking schedules, or anything else that occupies your wheelhouse of worry, I pray you let the Spirit work on the deepest parts of your soul so that you might not only cease to complain, but glow with contentment. That’ll be my prayer for me, anyway!