I have heard so many people say it about loved ones. "He never complained even though his pain was horrible." "She had such a hard life, but she never complained."
I knew early on that it was no use. I'm pretty certain I started whining as a young indulged child, so I was not going to be one of those lauded for suffering in silence. Oh, sure, I've held some things in along the way--some fairly significant, even traumatic, things. The trouble was that those trials I kept to myself only got worse, while the problems I shared with friends got better. Eventually, I was a convert. Sharing pain helped. And I had plenty of pain for awhile.
I've had a few health problems. Nothing awful like cancer, but when the nurse asks you for the number on the pain scale, being brave and lying just prolongs the pain. Better to tell the truth.
I've had a few losses. When your dad dies when you're 22, it's okay to cry. When your mom dies before you're 70 and she's 100, it's okay to cry. Friends understand. People send you cards and bring food.
I've had a few unmet expectations. Only the most cynical people in the world get married expecting divorce. I'm an optimist. I expected marriage to last for eternity. Mine lasted 17 long years and the scars reopen from time to time. Sharing that pain is not always appreciated. It gets old and there are very few people who understand. I sense that it's something I should have gotten over.
I have also had a few of what I like to call first world problems. That's what I have now. There's a great You Tube video about these kinds of problems. A young man kneels by the open trunk of his nice car moaning about "too many groceries to carry. I'll have to make two trips."
Poor me. I'm selling my house--it's too big. I have to give away some of my clothes--I have too many. I have to sell some of my furniture--it won't all fit into my next house. I have to say goodbye to my rose bushes, my pets, my neighborhood. First world problems all. I keep abreast of current events. I try to be aware of how people throughout the world live. I know there are millions of people who will never have a home, children who don't own shoes, and neighborhoods where bullets are fired and bombs explode.
Still, while my problems are not monumental, they do exist. I don't complain to God; I don't see Him as the deliverer of problems; I see Him as the deliverer of comfort and strength. I've been told hundreds of times from the pulpit that if I serve others, I will lose myself and feel better, but I have to admit that I've never liked the idea of service being self-serving as it were.
I had a few miscarriages among my four successful pregnancies. That was during my hold-things-in stage. I didn't complain; I didn't even really allow myself to be sad. After all, a miscarriage is the way the body deals with a pregnancy that wasn't meant to be. It wasn't like a still birth or, even worse, a child dying after being born. And I had other children and the promise of more. They were just miscarriages. I didn't complain or whine or ask for help or support. I just moved on.
I may be more needy now when I go through painful experiences, but I think I like the me who can lean on someone and accept love and support more than the me who held everything in. I think I am more compassionate toward others in their needs. I think that it's good to be self-sufficient, but it's better to be part of a community who cares about each other.
I'm moving away from that community right now. I'm leaving my Church family and my neighborhood and I'm feeling alone. I'll try not to complain too much, but I'm not going to lie--I'm about a 7 on the old 1 to 10 pain scale.