A friend of mine, who just happens to be a monk, told me a story several years ago of some guests who came to the monastery over the Lenten season (a time of looking inward for some, and of deprivation for others). At the conclusion of their retreat time, one of the monks asked them how the guest quarters were. The people responded in a tone of apology and contrition, “Very nice, but next time, I don’t think we will come during Lent. The cold showers were difficult.” At which point the monk said in alarm, “The water heater in the guest house must have broken. I am so sorry!”
There is a old, old belief system that silent suffering and toughing it out, makes us “pure” or helps us get closer to God/Spirit. It has its root in the belief that we are imperfect, unclean, impure people trying to be worthy of God. Some of us have been taught not to ask for things that might make our lives easier, because it would show others that we were selfish….sometimes we don’t even dare dream about what we desire, much less ask for it. We are not unworthy, lowly creatures needing to grovel before a punishing God. We are temples of the living Spirit, magnificent co-creators of our lives. We could not be more worthy of all good.
Asking for what we need is not the same as complaining. It is not the same as finding fault when every little detail is not to our liking. If I am disturbed by something in my life, my first obligation is to myself, and I honor myself by going inside and getting quiet and calm before I act or before I ask. I see the “problem” as I would like it to be, and that energy then flows before me paving the road, and the situation is made easier for all.