Amy Welborn is a columnist for Our Sunday Visitor and Catholic News Service and a regular contributor to the Living Faith quarterly devotional.
The other day, David pointed out what he thought was one more difference between them. The baby was fussing in the way babies do, and David asked what was the matter with him.
“He’s tired,” I answered.
David considered this for a moment and then asked what to him seemed like the next, very logical question.
“Then why doesn’t he just go to sleep? Why does he have to fuss?”
It is reasonable, isn’t it? If you’re tired, go to sleep! Enough of this unfocused discomfort! Take care of your problems, little dude.
I explained to David that the baby may be tired, but he doesn’t know he’s tired. All he feels is a general discomfort which he can’t define (because he’s only four months old, after all!), and he sure can’t figure out how to fix.
Maybe in sixteen years or so, he’ll have figured it out.
Or will he?
The baby’s flailings may look like a waste of energy to us, but it only a takes a few seconds of honest self-examination to see that maybe we haven’t grown as much as we think.
“If you’re tired, then just go to sleep!”
If you see stuff that you want to buy, but seem to be constantly broke, why fuss to your parents about it? Why not just…get a job?
If you’re feeling lonely and left out, why sit in your room with the door closed and mope about it? Why not just…get out of the house and get involved in things?
If you’re upset at someone, whether it be a parent, a sibling or friend, why keep it all inside and stew, slam doors and nurture your anger? Why not just…talk about it?
If you really want to do well in school, why worry that you won’t? Why not just…take a deep breath and study?
If you’d like to feel God more powerfully present in your life, why grumble that Mass is boring and you don’t have time to pray? Why not just…pray?
Let’s admit it. Whether we’re four months, fourteen or yes, even forty, we creatures called human beings have an unfortunate tendency, when faced with a problem, to moan, fuss and grumble about it rather than just get ourselves together and fix it.
I’m not sure why this is. We’re not like the baby, who doesn’t know how to fix it. We know better, no question. Sometimes we’re lazy, sometimes we’re afraid, and sometimes we’re not sure about the changes we know will come if we do indeed, decide to do the hard work that turns the negatives in our lives into positives.
But we’re also different than the baby in that we have the maturity to figure this out and see the alternatives. And we know, every time, that the hardships we’ll face in making those changes will be worth it in the end. We may even discover that what we saw as hardships weren’t so hard, after all.
It’s logical. It’s simple. Fix your problems instead of complaining about them.
And oh yes – try to grab a nap sometime in there, too, will you? You’re a little grumpy today. I think it might help!