Right now my husband is reading the book “Unbroken” aloud to me. It’s slow going since he is usually buried in homework at night, but we have already made it about halfway through. It’s about some pilots in WW2 whose plane crashes in the Pacific, where they float for 40 days surviving unfathomable odds. And let me just say that it is truly hard to fathom what they live through. Starvation, unrelenting thirst, constant shark attacks, and the fear of losing their minds are just some of the excruciating horror they have faced. And that’s only the beginning.
We’ve just started the next section where they are captured by the Japanese as prisoners of war. I knew this part was coming – I’d been dreading it for days. I shudder to think of what is in store for these guys at the hands of their ruthless enemies.
Anyway, it’s a hard book for me to listen to. It’s just so awful, I sometimes have to stop Elliot from reading it because I just can’t stand to imagine how much these guys are suffering. The horror they have had to endure so far has brought me to tears. So it’s not surprising that after the last chapter he read, I blurted out “Wow, we have nothing to complain about.”
You see, I had had a pretty complainy day. For most of it, I hadn’t given much thought to my complaining. And when I had realized it, I felt justified in my frustrations. However, when we read Unbroken, it dawned on me – I really have nothing to complain about. These men who were faced with heart wrenching pain and suffering never once complained. They have taken the hardships that come their way with courage and perseverance, and I have yet to see them throw in the towel even once.
I sit here on a nice soft couch, my husband next to me, the soothing hum of the dryer in the background. My evening most likely holds the last of the cookies followed by a long night of peaceful sleep. At worst, I will find that, lo and behold, the last of the cookies has been eaten, and my sleep may be interrupted by an occasional bad dream. Oh! I can just see my mind flitting to a sea of complaints.
CS Lewis said, “Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others… but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God “sending us” to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE hell unless it is nipped in the bud.”
The pilots in “Unbroken” were definitely masters at not complaining, and I hope that I too learn to master it myself.