Quiet Pain & the Hope Ahead

We live in a culture that prizes success and achievement. We are dazzled with powerful athletes who swim, run, climb, or otherwise amaze the watching world. We scroll through social media feeds and like the posts that are positive and inspiring. Maybe we experience pangs of jealousy when it’s a picture of precisely what we ourselves are apparently lacking.

Meanwhile, our quotidian lives unfold: work, class, maybe kids, whatever we have going on. And there is quiet pain, hidden sadness that does not fit the mold social media offers. In the lives of all human beings – and I do not believe this is universalizing – yes, in all our lives, there is pain, loss, hurt, or even the subtle, caustic overwhelm that comes COVID isolation. There’s regret and all the dark wondering that often accompanies it [did I marry the right person? what if I got that job?].

We look to articles and the experience of others for help and advice, and answers flood in faster than we can absorb the breadth of their perspectives. Sometimes it’s to our edification. But often we are left feeling no better than before. Advice and answers seldom do much good for our souls when what we really desire is to be heard, seen, cared for, loved. Sure we want answers and direction for the path forward, but not from a place of abstraction. Rather, we want someone who gets us.

Quiet pain, the kind that doesn’t fit on social media, exists in my life. Today, my son wanted a snack, so I asked him if he wanted Dino gummies or cinnamon buns. He opted for Dino gummies, but as he gobbled up his last gummy he demanded cinnamon rolls too. The answer was a gentle no, repeated a number of times. This spiraled him into a tantrum that took – and yes, I watched the clock – 10 minutes [the record is 50 minutes by the way]. I did the right parenting thing to offer an option, and yeah, I gave him a nice snack that he got to choose. But he’s small, he’s young, he’s learning. I don’t want him to go through the yelling and crying; my heart aches with him. It’s also frustrating, though, since his 10 month old sister is asleep upstairs. It’s quiet, hidden pain that isn’t making any headlines.

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