Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Glad Game of Lent

It wasn't until late Tuesday afternoon, when I wrote my last post, that I realized this is indeed another year in which I need to give up complaining (as opposed to simply sharing with you all that I've done that in the past.)

There are other sacrifices happening, yes. I won't talk about those just yet, or maybe not at all. But the complaining. Yes. It must go.

I have to thank a dear friend for bringing the C word up early Tuesday.

It was one of those days wherein I probably would have burst into tears if anyone had called and said, "But how are you really?"

Not for any particular reason that I could pinpoint. You know those days? Not because my children had done anything weepy-making. It was just one of those days. One of those times in motherhood (and one of those times when Lent is approaching) during which I was petulantly thinking, "I don't want to give anything up. I give myself up every day, day in and day out, and I've been doing it for years and I'm worn out and there's nothing left to give up. I want a vacation."

But, later, after my friend's email, and as I thought and prayed and worked on a blog post, I realized a couple of things. One is that I've certainly felt this way before. I remembered a blog post from last year in which I also sounded like a little girl stomping her feet and shrieking about her woeful life.

I wondered -- do I always feel this way in early March? Well, no. Last year, I felt this way in early February. The common denominator is that both of these times Lent was also just around the corner. (Draw your own conclusions. For Drama, Press 1: "Spiritual Attack." For banality, Press 2: "Winter Needs to End Soon.")

Two important thoughts came out of this realization. One is that I've felt this way before, I will feel this way again, and it will pass. Every time. I will not (so don't fret, daughters) pull a Joanna Kramer and walk out the door to go find myself.  I might need nothing more than a walk, and some sun, or a couple of hours with friends, but I'll be back.

But secondly, I hadn't been seeing the light. I'd been feeling the weight of the dark and I let it catch up with me -- focusing on what's negative, hard, tiring, overwhelming, wrong with the world, etc., instead of focusing on what's positive, a gift, worth the fatigue, easy, and what's right with the world.

And there's so much that is right.

And the minute I said to myself, "It's time for Pollyanna's Glad Game," (the Faith Edition) the cloud lifted. Telling myself I must change my attitude changed my attitude. I felt consoled, motivated, thankful.

For every time I ask Jesus, "Why do You allow ....?" He can and does answer, "This is why, and here's what you can thank Me for in the moment."  Or, if He doesn't make the "why" clear, He still says, "Say thank you anyway. It's what an obedient child does."

My Lenten plans fell into place. Getting rid of complaining is the beginning. There will be more -- prayer, alms, fasting.

Ash Wednesday was a great day of fasting.

I went to bed feeling so hungry for food and so full of God's promises.


Red Cardigan said...

I always find that weepy, disconnected feeling to coincide with the homeschooler's dreaded Third Quarter Blues. It's been winter forever (yes, even in Texas), I'm *tired* of math and science (more so than the kids, even, but SHHHHH don't tell!) and then, on top if it all: Lent.

April is not the cruelest month. I vote for Feb 15-March 31. Sort of a "Februmarchary" of months. :)

Ian said...

Yes. I so relate. February and March do strain the nerves.

Have you read the near-ubiquitous 1000 Gifts? Through reading it, and through blogging more regularly on gratitude, I'm really going through a mental sea-change, where the temptation to complain about this or that is more quickly being transformed to a "Thank You, Lord." Sometimes it's "thank You" for something good I can find, a la Pollyanna, in the situation. Sometimes it's just thanking Him for the apparently-ugly ("Thank You for the challenge of raising my son with His particular personality" or "Thank You that this situation makes me a less judgmental parent").

I love that reminder: We've been through this before, we came out the other side, we will survive it again -- and even more than conquer through Him who loves us!

Hannah said...

Oops! Karen, that was me, Hannah. I didn't realize my son was signed into Google instead of me. :-)

Karen E. said...

Red, yes, Februmarchary is the culprit (And add Daylight Savings Time this weekend ... urrggh.)

Ian-Hannah -- :) -- yes, the thank yous must include even gratitude for the ugly things, the difficult things, the bewildering things. I haven't read 1000 Gifts, but for me, it's more a matter of returning again and again to this Scripture:

"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ~~ 1 Thess. 5:16-18

I've known, since becoming a Christian (has it been 20 years??) that I must -- that I WANT to -- thank Him for *everything.* And I've seen too many blessings come from my sufferings to not believe that He works all things for good. In our fallenness, I think we all fall down on this job of gratitude at times, thanks to our human failings. But we remind ourselves of His goodness, pick ourselves up, and say, "Thank you, Lord, for this falling down."


Katy said...

Considering the day I had yesterday, I think I should give up complaining also. Thanks for the encouragement. I need to pull out the Litany of Humility again also...when I was praying it daily a while back I'd like to think I was complaining less.

Karen E. said...

Oh, yes, the Litany of Humility is a great one, isn't it?

Rochelle said...

Another great post, Karen!
I loved your article on Pollyanna's Glad Game, but then again, I have to admit that I love Pollyanna.
Did you know that there is a whole series of "Pollyanna" books?

Karen E. said...

Thanks, Rochelle, and no, I didn't even realize there was an entire series. :O Thanks!