My original opening line to this month’s post was: Please shut your mouth and stop complaining. Really. It’s been on my mind for months. I’ve been frustrated since January when reading daily complaints on the Internet and in social media land about carpool lines and your kid’s overscheduled schedule and the weather (oh, the weather complaints this winter!) and the end of your favorite show and the blah, blah, blah. You get the picture.
I am a terrible person, right? After all, some days are hard. Really hard. Some days, we need to shout and complain and even curse it out. My running coach once told me it is scientifically proven that yelling a curse word when hurt is an antidote to pain. I never researched that fact. I took it at face value because much to my husband’s horror, I believe in the power of a well-timed curse word. I know, I know, I need to work on myself.
So before you decide that I am hateful, don’t worry. The universe is making sure I am getting my own dose. I do not make this up. Each day that I have thought about this blog or attempted to start it, I have faced a particularly hard day, so I would give up on writing it. Well, it’s due now. Time is up.
As I type, I am on a plane to D.C. Never mind that Boston is my final destination. I am not getting there tonight. My original flight was at 3 p.m., then had to be changed to 6 due to a meeting and now I’m finally in the air at 9 p.m. after watching the utter chaos that is gate agents attempting to re-route travelers. Never mind that I got up at 5 a.m. to be at a speaking engagement at 7 a.m. after being up five times last night. I can’t wait to go to bed at midnight in another time zone. Never mind that the doctor declared today that my not-yet-two-year-old-son has “the worst case of hand, foot and mouth disease” she has ever seen and I am leaving my poor husband to deal with it as I attempt to make a major meeting tomorrow.
Never mind. I mean literally: NEVER MIND. You see, all that I shared above, while gripe-worthy, is still not worth wallowing in negativity. If I were to start over and see it all in another light, I would tell you a completely different narrative.
I could tell you about the women who stood in line to meet with me at 7 this morning at the women’s mentoring event. They stood in line to find out how to work for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and our powerful and lifesaving mission. I might have been there to mentor, but I think I got more than I gave!
I could tell you how a coworker stopped me out of the blue, thanked me for all I do and then gave me a hug because she could tell I needed it. I could tell you how my team delivered an incredible deck for our meeting tomorrow after working extra hours this weekend with happy notes that said, “Go get ’em!”
I could tell you how that flight delay allowed me to go home and snuggle with my baby, and see the sheer delight on my daughter’s face when I picked her up from school. Or, I could tell you the sigh of relief on the face of the gate agent as I thanked him for staying to help me as the last person in the line tonight.
Most importantly, I could tell you that in my moment of peak annoyance today, I read a post from a dear friend who just lost his young daughter to cancer. It reminded me exactly why I set out to pen these words.
Ariana would have been 8 years old today. She died just a few weeks ago after battling an aggressive brain cancer for years. She taught us all to never take one day for granted. To laugh and to dance and to focus on all the good in this world. His request: do eight good things for someone else today. Focus on eight good things. Eight positive things. In other words, eight things that really matter.
As we rejoice that spring has arrived and focus on renewal, I am challenging us all to stop focusing on the negative and celebrate the positive. Before you write that next Facebook post, stop. I know it’s healthy sometimes to get it off our chests and share our troubles, but what if for just one day, you didn’t? What if you instead did something nice for someone else as a way to get over your trouble? I know we can all think of someone we know who has it harder than us at this moment. Share a word of encouragement and love instead. Heck, I’ll even take a cute cat picture.
I have been so convicted to write this post for weeks now. I even decided to take on doing something nice for someone every day of Lent this year versus giving something up. But I am also nervous and guilty to pen it. As sure as I post this, someone is going to think of me as a hypocrite. They have heard me complain or gripe or behave in a less than positive way in recent days. So, like usual, these words are as much a lesson to myself as anything you may take away from my writing.
As the final proof that this is a lesson I need to learn as much as I need to share, these were the words I read in my devotional last night, Jesus Calling:
Bring me the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Take nothing for granted, not even the rising of the sun….
When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. You take for granted life, salvation, sunshine, flowers and countless other gifts from Me. You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until it is “fixed.”
When you approach Me with thanksgiving, the Light of My Presence pours into you, transforming you through and through. Walk in the light with me by practicing the discipline of thanksgiving.
Sometimes can it just be enough that we were allowed the privilege of waking up in the morning? Can it just be enough that we can draw breath? Can everything else be gravy after that? Your beautiful children. The roof over your head. The job where you can use your talents. The friends who love you through thick and thin.
I don’t want a darkened mind. Do you? This spring, let’s get working on Thanksgiving a little early. Let’s be grateful and positive as often as we can. Let’s shut it and be happy. There’s even a little ditty on the radio right now you can sing along to with this very theme. Clap along if you feel that happiness is for you…