“Encouragement, as you have seen these past 30 days, is a synonym for love in action.”

I just completed the 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge for Wives. It took me a lot longer than 30 days (it doesn’t say they have to be consecutive days, so it was mostly weekdays for me). The groundwork has really changed my approach to a lot of things in the rest of my life. The first ground rule is this: say nothing negative to your husband or about your husband.

For me, that’s not so hard, because my dear husband is so wonderful. But I pushed myself farther, and also required that I THINK nothing negative about him. That was a lot harder. How many times throughout the day am I tempted to belittle the person who completes my vocation? How often do I react without remembering that charity begins at home, within that sacred trust of marriage? Who’s in control of that beastly tongue of mine, that traitorous mind, that scathing critic who resides in my head?

I have been trying to apply this to the other people in my life, and that is where I face the big wall in front of me. I’m working my way over it, and in encouraging him every day, I am finding a wellspring of strength to be this way FOR REAL, with everyone in my life.

Discipline is NOT over-rated. The things that change our lives are not always dramatic slaps to the head. Sometimes they are tiny seeds, planted gently, watered faithfully, tended lovingly. Sometimes you don’t even notice them right away, and you don’t even realize something is different until someone calls it to your attention.

I have shared the Challenge with a few of my friends and colleagues and fellow parishioners, as the Spirit has moved me. One person laughed at me – in the spirit of charity, though – and said, “Boy, my husband won’t know what to think!” Another thanked me for sending it. “Our anniversary is coming up,” she remarked, “and I can’t think of a better gift for my husband.”

The more I have become embroiled in this mentality, the more I have begun asking myself, “What if everyone did the Challenge?” What if all spouses refused to say anything negative to or about their husbands or wives for 30 days? What if all parents refused to say anything negative to or about their children for 30 days? What if all coworkers refused to say anything negative to or about their colleagues for 30 days?

I’m a romantic. But I can’t help wondering…