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Sunday, February 20, 2011


Sometimes life throws us curves.  Sometimes we invite those curves.  And sometimes those curves are so unexpected, so devastating, that it takes one's breath away.

A young man from the local church I attend, whom I will call merely L, threw himself one of those curve balls on Saturday.  I've known L for several years, watched him go through his teens, heard reports of how he attended Seminary and was always on top of things. Then he started to slowly fall away from church, though he still associated with other LDS youth.  L's father moved overseas, but L still had plenty of family in the area, and many friends.  I was able to depend on him last year for help bringing in hay, he was reliable and willing.

Saturday night, L was showing his best friend one of his guns, a gun he thought was not loaded...  The rest is life changing, devastating, shattering history.  The gun went off, and L's friend was gone forever, and L's life will never be the same..  After several hours investigation, the police released him.  Who knows what will happen next?  The hours he spent with the police were grueling; they tried repeatedly to bully him into "admitting" that he'd shot his friend on purpose.

As I've pondered this tragedy, I find myself thanking God again and again for my parents and grandparents who pounded into my head the rule, the credo, that you never, ever point a gun at anything you don't intent to shoot.  We had guns around all the time when I was a child.  There was always a rifle behind the kitchen door at my grandparents' house; my father had several rifles.  I learned to shoot and handle guns from the time I could hold them, and if I'd ever even thought of playing with a gun or treating it with less than the respect it deserved, the consequences would have been dire.  I can't even imagine someone with guns pointing it at a friend, even with the safety on, even knowing it was unloaded.

And I think of the devastation wrought by that one careless act; one life taken, the other life shattered, the collateral damage beyond reckoning.  I want to shake L and scream "What were you thinking!" but I know the answer--he wasn't thinking, he couldn't have been thinking--could he?  My heart ache for L, for his family, and for his friend's family.

I'm reminded of the words to a song by Janice Kapp Perry, There is Eternity:
    But some heartaches just can never be explained
    And no caring words can take away the pain
Tragedy comes to us all, sometimes in small doses, sometimes overwhelmingly large, but if there's one thing I know, it's that the Father can turn tragedy into hope.  I believe in miracles.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


It's a lot harder to curb complaints than I ever would have imagined.  I've been working at this for weeks, and so far haven't strung together even 7 days; nay, even four.  I have, finally, put together 2 days several times, and most recently, and most notable I failed on--TA DA--Day Four, which means I managed to get through three whole days before a complaint crossed my lips.

As I watched the original challenge on YouTube, I observed a few people remarking that it had taken one or two weeks before they were able to get into the swing of it.  One or two weeks!  Either these people have very different standards than I've set up, or they're lying--or I'm far worse off than I ever expected.  Here are my standards:

1.  It's okay to think it, but I can't say it (same as A Complaint-Free World)
2.  Fits of temper, impatience, or outrage count as complaints.
3.  It doesn't matter if someone else is around to hear it.  If I've uttered it aloud, it's a complaint.

What this means in effect is that if I go out to the barn and the horses have tossed their hay out of the feeder and pooped all over it, the exclamation, "Those stupid horses!" is a complaint.  The question comes when I cry, "Oh, no!"  Is that a complaint?

If the goats have escaped from their enclosure and tipped over my buckets of minerals, and I tell someone what they've done, is that a complaint?

Suppose I've had a small run-in with a family member, and another asks me about it, is the retelling a complaint?

So far, I've answered "yes" to myself on all counts, which means I either become rather uncommunicative with respect to situations in my life which can be construed as negative, or I have to change the standards.  I finally started looking at intent, and that eased a bit of the retelling, but I'm on rather shaky ground.  What I have learned is that murmuring, by definition, means speaking very low, almost inarticulately, and often in complaint.  As soon as my voice gives utterance, I'm in trouble.  I'm learning to keep my mouth shut tight, even when I want to lash out, exclaim, or just tell someone of the unbelievably stressful heartache I've just endured, the catastrophe just avoided, the idiocies just observed.

If I ever string together 21 full days without complaint, I suspect I may be almost mute.