I am in the second week of my Lenten sacrifice of complaining. I would like to say I haven’t complained but that would be untrue. Maybe not as much? But I have noticed a few things…
(1) I complain way more than I thought I did! Because I am conscious of it in a way I wasn’t before, I catch myself before I do it (sometimes). And when I do complain I realize I am doing it. This self-awareness is the best thing in the first week of the journey without complaining. I notice what I say and, more importantly, my habits in how I respond to a whole range of things and people.
(2) The power of habit. (1) leads to this observation – I am a creature of habit. I know that. We all are. But some of my habits are destructive of my personal relationships, interfere with my work, and short-circuit my faith life. Changing habits is hard but I am learning that recognizing and dealing with our current habits must be part of the change.
(3) Objectifying people. One of the worst things we do as human beings is objectifying others – individuals, groups of people, etc. I am learning that when I complain I objectify people. They stop being people when they become objects of my complaints. People become things just like the mess one of my children left in the kitchen, the pothole that still hasn’t been fixed on my street, the weather, etc. My complaints about individuals and whole classes of people ( women, church members, other drivers, people in line with me at the grocery store, whatever group has irked me at the moment) turns them into objects who lose their dignity and value as God’s creatures. I had no idea but I think that I am on to something here.
I have much to learn I am sure – mostly about myself. This is hard work because it isn’t just about stopping something I do without thought. I am digging up things in my soul that I don’t like and patterns of thought I find unpleasant at best.
I also have a ton of work to do on just stopping complaining. Instead of sacrificing complaining during Lent I am really journeying toward giving it up, I hope, by the time Lent is over.