One of the many things it recommends is to stop complaining, stop being petulant when things don't go your way, stop pouting. No one, not even your husband, likes a whiner. Right? Well, duh.
I remember reading that and thinking--but if I don't complain and be verbally sad about things, how will my husband know what a hard time I'm having?
And then I thought--....why does he have to know? Why does anyone have to know?
That's when I realized: no one has to know.
No one has to know our sorrows
In our day and age, I feel we are primed to over-share. Sharing is caring and all that. The fine line between sharing emotions and dwelling on them is so fine I have a hard time seeing it at all sometimes. The idea that no one has to know what a hard time I have was completely novel to me. We live in a time where we are encouraged to share our feelings, to vent, to anyone and everyone who will listen (I'm looking at you, Facebook). I never consciously thought of myself as a pity-monger, but now looking back at my life, I wonder if I was. Even if I wasn't in public, in my private life I would allow myself to sigh a lot, and act despondent about the hard things in my life.
And you know? Some of the things I have sighed about have been really hard. You really have no idea until you've spent your literal entire life caring for a dying guy. After my older brother died, who I'd been caring for for years, even harder stuff happened in my life. I hadn't even realized that was possible. Yes, I was seriously naive enough to think that I'd already seen about as much of human suffering as I would probably have to. Just goes to show that even the excruciatingly difficult stuff is really just a preparation for even more! But for some reason that never occurred to me until it actually happened.
But still: no one has to know.
Isn't that the point of Matthew 6:16-18?
Yes, yes it is.16 ¶Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
The only person who has to know all our sorrows is God. It is appropriate to approach Him in secret. This isn't to say we can't appropriately share our sorrows and our burdens with others; it is to say that we should not necessarily feel compelled to. In the past, I feel I personally was compelled to, at least to some degree.
No one has to know our joys
My life has gotten so bizarre lately, I can barely believe it sometimes. Nearly every day, something happens that just makes me sit back and think--well, now I've just about seen it all. Nothing can possibly top this.
And then, the next day or the next week, something even crazier happens and I remember my awe at the last thing and just laugh at myself.
Up until a few weeks ago, I did feel a compelling need to share my experiences with someone. All I wanted was to have someone to talk to about it. I would tell my husband or occasionally other friends about the strange beautiful miracles I am privileged to witness now, and I didn't think much of it. Uh, sidenote: not ALL strange beautiful miracles. Just some of them. Not infringing on people's privacy, just to be clear.
Anyway, last week, something truly, truly astonishing happened to me. In the past, I would have been all over sharing it with at least my husband.
But as I pondered the experience in my heart later, I realized: no one has to know.
No one has to know.
It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen or experienced, probably, but that experience was just for me. My husband doesn't need to know about it. You don't need to know about it. In an age of encouraged over-sharing, this can be a strange beautiful secret I share with God. I don't need to tell a single living soul. My journal knows and God knows and that's enough.