That was the gist of the Easter homily I heard. Fr. Jedi said much more, of course. (Really dude, a short homily, just once.) But his main point was that if we really are an Easter people, then we can’t dump our petty complaints onto everyone we meet.
I really needed to hear this. I complain all the time. I complain about how much I complain. I complain about my job. I complain about my co-workers. I complain about people I know. I complain about people I don’t know. I complain about being single. I complain about people making me feel bad for being single. I complain about social media. I complain on social media. I complain about not having enough time to accomplish my goals. I complain about not having any goals and wasting all me time watching TV. I complain that there aren’t any good shows anymore. I complain about being broke. I complain about having too many possessions.
Obviously, I need to shut up.
Or at least be consistent in what I complain about.
But no, really, I should shut up.
The nice thing about Fr. Jedi is that he doesn’t give all the answers. Usually he “wants to give you something to think about.” And it usually isn’t 1 thing, it’s more like 5 things, but he always says it’s 3 things. And yes, I am just so childish that I count.
Complaining is easy. There is nothing simpler than finding fault. If you’re me, it’s a super-power. Complaining is basically the human condition. Even given all the luxury of the Garden, Eve was pretty easily convinced that she was missing out on something. (I think my favorite thing about teaching religion class to 8 year olds is that they always say if they were Eve they wouldn’t have eaten the apple. And I get to say, “yes, you would have.” Small victories.) We know that nothing will every be perfect, and for some reason we see that as an excuse to nit-pick things which are really fine.
Complaining turns everything into a burden. There are no blessings in life. Everything is just a sliding scale of shitty. A sunny day means that I’m going to get sunburnt. Losing 5 pounds just reminds me of how many more pounds I have to lose. (Until what exactly, I’m not sure.) A text from a friend is an indictment about what a crappy friend I’ve been. Complaining isn’t a recognition of genuine struggles in life. Complaining is the self-inflicted misery of concentrating on the apple that is out of reach.
A week ago my complaining crashed down around me. Months of endless harping on all that I saw wrong with every aspect of the world finally made me a liar. I flat out lied to my boss. Not evaded, not hedged. Lied. I blamed someone else for something that is my fault. It took a day, but I came clean. I took back what I said, told my boss the truth, and apologized. I had that to think about going into Easter. How had I come to the point where I lied?
And because God is (always) looking out for me, I got my answer, through Fr. Jedi. Wrapped in the comfort of continual complaint, I had built a reality on lies of omission. Complaining omits good. Complaints are lies; small at first, but ever expanding and increasing.
So Lent might be over, but that is just the groundwork. I proved to myself that I can give up sugar for 40 days. Learning how to see what is good when I really want to expose the smallest flaw, not that is going to be a challenge.
(4 Years, 6 Months, and 10 Days Sober)