I love to rant, and ranting, in its own way, is complaining. I know I shouldn't complain because it's selfish and rude, but it's a human tendency I have. But I realized something...
You've heard about the goings-on in Japan, I'm sure. (If you haven't, you need to go look it up because it isn't something you should be oblivious about.) After hearing reports about the earthquake and tsunami, I thought to myself, "I can't even imagine what that is like. I live in Kansas. True, a tornado could blow away all I have right now, but to have your world rocked, torn down, and then, on top of all that, washed away? That's inconceivable."
This is when I realized that complaining is a privilege. Let me reiterate: COMPLAINING IS A PRIVILEGE! It is not a right, and the only people who hold that privilege are those in harm's way. It is not limited to those in Japan and the other areas hard-hit in the Pacific. It also includes third-world countries, poverty-stricken areas, families who are struggling with income because of the economy, victims of aggression, citizens of Libya, Egypt, and other countries being run in a way that is not in the best interests of the citizens....anyone who is less fortunate than I has the privilege to complain, and I have none.
I do, however, obtain the right to pray. I do not believe that it is merely a right, either. It is my duty to pray for those who need prayers. And here's what gets me--despite their hardships, the people in Japan are helping others. They aren't putting themselves first. I saw on Good Morning America Diane Sawyer being offered part of a meal from a man whose house had been completely destroyed. I had to ask, "How could he do that? How could he be so hungry and devastated and still offer up some of his meal to an American reporter? That is love and grace. That is selflessness and compassion."
I try to tell myself, "Someone has it worse and God will work everything out. Sure, life sucks now, but it's going to get better. Offer this up for the person who has to wait longer for things to get better." If I can do that, I know I'll end up much happier. I may not be able to go to Japan and help with clean-up and recovery, but I can still help make a change. Prayer is powerful. I believe that strongly. It's also the season of Lent right now. I'm keeping in mind that not everyone reading this is necessarily Catholic or even Christian, but that doesn't mean you can't pray. There's nothing to lose in prayer, so there's no reason not to try. Lent is a season of sacrifice--of offering "it" up for God and for those who have greater needs than we. You can still offer it up even if you aren't religious, and if that's the case, you can think of it as a simple act of humanitarianism from home.
My goal is to stop complaining. I challenge you to stop complaining, too. Every time you start to whine about how awful your life is, think about who has it worse and offer it up. I can't force you to do this with me, but I ask you to try. Are you up for the challenge?