A few weeks ago I had the pleasure and the privilege of hosting a group of friends from college for a few days. It was our second gathering within the past few months and, while we had a couple of differences in attendees, it was still such a precious thing to have them here with me again so soon. Normally, we have to wait a whole year in between these gatherings!
When we are together, years melt away. We are temporarily no longer wives, mothers, employees, or any other label that we normally embrace on a regular basis. We are simply US. We pile on furniture together and we stay up late and we laugh and eat amazing food together. We invade small businesses (wherever we are) and we get all kinds of looks from people in restaurants and even just passers-by on the street. (Seriously, at one restaurant there was a man who just gave up eating AND all pretense of ignoring us and turned his whole chair to watch us like we were a TV show! HA!) We are loud and, even if no one but us gets it, we are hysterically funny!
Our topics are like free-range chickens ducking in and out of hiding, small clusters of whispering voices morphing into a cacophony of high-energy, hand-gesticulating oratory on everything from religion and politics to oddly-shaped gourds and from trials to treasures and triumphs since our last togetherness. There is no substitute for the love and encouragement, the prodding and accountability level these beautiful, educated, highly-intelligent-but-oh-so-different women provide for me. I am better—by far!—because they are in my life. Gratitude for them both corporately and individually is beyond words. Splendid, I tell you! These women are simply SPLENDID!!!
I am always better after spending time with them. This time of visitation was no exception. As we shared our hearts and laughter, Jody (#3!) kept a running written list about our topical adventures to share with our friends who couldn’t join us this time. Anyone else who reads the list will believe we are either speaking in code or insane. One-liners, memories, questions, phrases, locations, product/book/movie/entertainment choices, recommendations/reviews/warnings…it was an extensive list.
During one of our “sessions” (where we solve all of the world’s problems!) we wandered from intentional living into the topics of deliberate thankfulness, complaining, and how we deal with these issues in our “regular” lives. One friend had spent a whole year focusing on joy awhile back, a couple of them had joined together to reduce their consumerisim of various items by deliberately choosing a year of month-long fasts of all kinds of things from crackers and chocolate to clothes. One of us told about her deliberate choice to give up complaining for a whole month.
We kept talking, but I think we were also marinating in the scope of that endeavor. It’s pretty big. Choosing to curtail your personal freedom of expression is actually pretty monumental. At least it is for us. We rarely find a subject about which we ALL do not have opinions and we also feel pretty free to share those opinions with each other—and anyone else within auditory range. Agreements are optional for us. Unity, however, is a given. We are undeterred by our differences and, in fact, we often celebrate them. Having recognized the worth of each individual so long ago, how could we possibly go back on that now?
Once everyone returned home, Marsha (our #12) wrote a fabulous email compiling all the list points for those who couldn’t attend and sent it to the entire line as a reminder. That email started a whole chain of emails and our #2 (Hey, Patty!) announced, “…in November I will be intentionally trying not to complain.” I think most of us have jumped on the bandwagon with her and we’ve made our determination to try and have our first annual NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER. (yikes! That sounds suspiciously like we might repeat it annually! I didn’t consult them on that! We may need to see how it goes! HA!!)
We’ve already been talking about being personally responsible for what we put out into the world, about possible reminders that will help us focus, about verses to inspire and instruct us, and—of course—we’ll be reporting in to each other as we go along.
Our goal is NOT just to be intentional about monitoring our negative verbal impulses, but to be intentional about deliberately choosing to be positive, as well. Again, that’s big. Really big. It has the power to change us and to change those around us. IF we get into the habit on a regular basis…well, who knows how big the ripples could get, so I asked if they would mind if I shared this here. They’re all on board, so far, so here it is:
You—Precious YOU!—are hereby officially invited to join me and my most marvelous friends in our NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER! I’ll be checking back in with updates and, probably, some shared stories or suggestions as we seek to improve the world right where we are.
Question: Aren’t you happy I gave you a whole day to think about it before it starts?!
And, more importantly: Will you join us? (and if you don’t get to read this until after we’ve already started? Jump in where you are! As Patty says, “The more the merrier!”)
“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” Ephesians 4:29 (Amplified Bible)
Yes! We CAN do this!!
Grace & Peace!