The Garden of Complaining
Toward the end of this blissful summer break, I really was starting to lose my cool over every little thing. Every fight between the kids got me screaming at them...
by Racheli Reckles
Iím so thrilled to announce the latest installment in my ďGardenĒ series, called ďThe Garden of Complaining!Ē My first bestseller, ďThe Garden of Ingratitude,Ē was a smash hit, so I figured Iíd keep going. Donít want to disappoint the fans, you know.
This past summer was very challenging for me. As the kids are getting older, theyíre becoming more demanding in different ways. They need more excitement, more food, and more money. Come to think of it, so do I. These days, offering to buy them a worthless toy for two shekel isnít even a consideration. How dare I insult their intelligence!
All of their unmet needs plus the fact that I couldnít take them swimming or to the beach made the summer pass by verrryyyyy slooowwwwlllyyyy. To top it off, I was working from morning to night, trying to keep up with - you guessed it - the laundry and their constant food demands. As a result, I started complaining. A lot. A lot more than usual. Which is really a whole Ďlot.
I nearly reached my breaking point several times. Every time I would see a mess or even just something on the floor, I would mutter and complain, ďHow many times do I need to clean up?Ē My husband suggested to let them destroy the house, and then clean it up at the end of the day. First, I lovingly told him to stay out of my business and stick to what he knows. Then, I told him that I would like to actually be able to walk around the house without stepping on Legoís and pieces of smashed fruit. Plus, I would be too exhausted and overwhelmed to deal with the gigantic mess at 11 at night.
Toward the end of this blissful summer break, I really was starting to lose my cool over every little thing. Every fight between the kids got me screaming at them. Every demand had me sighing and feeling sorry for myself. Sure, I spoke with Hashem about it - all day, in fact. It went something like this: ďHashem, look at this mess! How much more can I take?! Iím only one person taking care of six people, plus myself, which counts for another half a person. Iím going to go crazy from the stress! These kids canít stop fighting, and they donít listen to me, and theyíre bored out of their minds, and I just canít take it anymore!!!Ē
What powerful personal prayer, no?
Do you know how Hashem answered me?
He turned up the volume a hundred times. ďOh, I see. Youíre upset. The healthy boys I gave you are causing you trouble. The clothes from America I gave you are too many to launder. The food I gave you is too much to prepare. Iím so sorry for your troubles, My daughter! Here, letís see if this helps.Ē
What did Hashem do, exactly? He made the childrenís behavior a hundred times worse. Every load of laundry felt enormous. The dishes felt like they were piling until the ceiling. I felt like I was in the kitchen all day long.
I knew that my reactive behavior was getting out of control, and I desperately tried to work on my patience. But that didnít work. Then, after speaking with Rav Lazer Brody about it, he suggested that my patience, of lack of it, wasnít the real issue. He said the kidsí behavior was Hashemís way of telling me that I needed to fix something. I was like, ďFix something? Iím perfect, donít you know?Ē He told me to simply ask Hashem to show me what the root cause of the problem was.
So I did. It took me two days, but I finally got my answer. And when I did, you can bet that I smacked my forehead for being thicker than the wall. Hereís the secret: because I was complaining for no reason, Hashem gave me a reason to complain. Obviously He didnít want to make a liar out of me, so He made sure that my complaints were justified.
In essence, I was the cause of my troubles. Shocking, right? I learned a big lesson about complaining, and here it is: complaining makes a difficult situation unbearable.
Letís repeat that. Complaining makes a difficult situation unbearable.
One more time. Complaining makes a difficult situation unbearable!
I promise you, itís the truth! As soon as I stopped complaining about every little thing, automatically everything became more tolerable. The kids didnít exactly start behaving like angels, but I suddenly developed a much higher tolerance for their screams and fighting. It was nothing short of a miraculous salvation.
So now, when I see something on the floor, instead of sighing and huffing and puffing and nearly blowing the house down, I just keep my mouth shut. I donít say a word. I donít let out an, ďOy.Ē I say absolutely nothing. And by doing this, I automatically donít get nearly as upset.
I gotta tell you, we all tremendously aggravate our challenges by complaining, even if itís just in our minds. If we do our best to at least not think negative thoughts or say negative words, we will be surprised how much better we feel - even if the situation hasnít changed yet.
So there you have it. My latest bestseller. Iím happy to send out virtual autographs to anyone that wants one. But I have a feeling that most of my fans live on Planet X...
Feel free to send Racheli your questions, particularly in the areas of marriage, dating, child-rearing and women's role; write her at email@example.com