Sep 8, 2012

At the End of the Driveway


As soon as hubby drove out the driveway, I started my daily housewifely duties: picking up his socks and turning them right side out, turning off the lights he left on, closing the doors and cabinet doors he left open, putting his dishes in the sink, and whatever else I could find that he had done or left undone.

And then, it started:

Why does he leave his socks all balled up? Why can’t he turn off the lights? Why can’t he close the cabinet doors? Why can’t he put his glass in the sink? Why can’t he...

On and on, I would mumble, all in my heart and under my breath. I grumbled while I washed the clothes. I complained while I did the dishes. I murmured while I vacuumed. This negative attitude seeped into other areas of my thinking. Its tentacles grabbed my thoughts and slowly began to suck the life out of me.

I noticed negativity taking a foothold. I started to frown more often. My heart became two sizes too small, just like the Grinch’s heart.

I mumbled to myself that... children wouldn’t clean up their rooms or make the right choices. server brought my salad after my entrée, didn’t fill my water glass, brought me someone else’s meal, or ignored me altogether.
...the person in the car in front of me drove too slowly in the fast lane.
...the nosy neighbor across the street was always watching to see what we were doing and why couldn’t she mind her own business.

Oh, the endless list! I stumbled over all the negative pebbles I flung in my own path.

All this happened many years ago until it finally dawned on me: What is my grumbling and complaining doing to me? What is it doing to my marriage? How is it affecting others? I knew that if I did not change the thoughts in my mind and heart, my negative attitude would spill out as poison on my husband, the kids, and everyone else, if it hadn’t already.

The Bible says, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34b NIV) What would be the outcome if I continued? I certainly did not want negative criticisms to roll off the end of my tongue.

The Canadian preacher A. B. Simpson once said of the apostle Paul, “Paul did not carry a cemetery with him, but a chorus of victorious praise; and the harder the trial, the more he trusted and rejoiced, shouting from the very altar of sacrifice.”

So, I learned to give that sacrifice of gratitude, sometimes even through gritted teeth.

I learned that thankfulness and praise are the best replacements for any complaints, turning each negative into a positive. For instance, if my husband does something that irritates me, I replace it with a positive, like having a husband who loves the Lord, or having one who isn’t an alcoholic, who doesn’t fool around, who isn’t an addict, or whatever. And I do the same for anything else.

I found that, if I am constantly negative and boo-hoo my circumstances more than being thankful and positive, I magnify my circumstances above everything else. And if I am not careful, I will be just like the Israelites thousands of years ago, as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years, whining and complaining, which resulted in dire consequences.

What is my response today?

Now, when my day is darkened with a multitude of problems that cause my gratitude to stick in my throat, I strive to remain positive anyway. When my eyes spill over with the tears of heartache, I attempt to find a way to be grateful.

I do my best to focus my thoughts on what is “true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others.” (Philippians 4:8 The Living Bible)

When faced with circumstances beyond my control, I try not to respond with feelings but try to purposely choose to be positive, thus invalidating the negative.

I do not want my gravestone to read: Died from too much whine!

Now, as I watch my hubby leave the end of the driveway, nothing fills my heart but gratitude!