Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lessons in Pain

These past two weeks I've had the opportunity through various experiences to learn a lot about pain of all sorts.  Luckily, in those two weeks, Elder Holland came to visit Oxford and gave a fireside for YSA, which was super amazing.  His talk echoed a number of themes I had heard previously in a fireside he gave a couple years ago in the Bay Area, which talk is, in my opinion, the all time best talk to be given ever, and basically a biography of my life.  I've included the transcript and audio of Elder Holland's Bay Area talk below, since if you have never heard this talk and if you have ever had a hard thing happen to you in life, it will be life-changing (unfortunately, to my knowledge, there is no transcript or audio of the Oxford fireside, so I can't share that with you).  So as I've been experiencing various lessons with pain the past couple weeks, I've been able to reflect on Elder Holland's words from both of his talks, and come to a much better understanding of life and our relationship with Heavenly Father and the Savior.

A week ago, I fell and sprained my ankle, which is probably the most visible and most easily talked about of my pain experiences.  While the injury itself isn't the most painful thing, I have been force to use crutches which has slowed me down significantly.  My normal 1 1/2 hour one way commute to my physiotherapy placement now takes me 3 hours each way, with a majority of those three hours on my feet, crutching along.  This means that I have to leave at 6am every morning, and return at 8pm every night, and that 14 hour day is exhausting!  Luckily there were two days this week where my supervisors gave me the day off to rest and recover.  On the second day however, I found myself confined to my room, unable to do anything or go anywhere, because I needed my ankle to heal.  And thanks to the marvelous and ironic timing of life, it was that time when so many things in my life suddenly seemed to go wrong.  That day I felt that I was trapped in a room with all of my failure laid out in front of me, and there was no where I could go to escape, no where I could hide.  A few different plans and hopes and dreams I was investigating for the future came crumbling down.  I also had a few different miscommunication problems with friends and people I care a lot about.  And then I made quick decisions without thinking things through that caused me to be a burden to others.  And projects that I should have done earlier but procrastinated and now were forced to complete were so much harder and had various negative consequences for having been put off so long.  Not to mention the nagging pain in my ankle throughout the day.

In his talk in Oxford, Elder Holland said there will come moments that are so difficult, that we will be tempted to say that we just don't care anymore.  That it will feel like we have been deserted by God, and that He doesn't care, so why should we care anymore.  I felt like that in that moment.  The weeks leading up to that day had not been easy.  To be honest, I'm not sure if I can remember an easy span of life since the Spring of 2007.  Life has just been progressively getting harder and much more painful.  And in so many moments I have looked to heaven and said "I have reached my breaking point.  If you take this any further, I will shatter completely and there will be nothing left."  In his talk in the Bay Area, Elder Holland said when we reach these points when we feel like we can't go any further, somehow, we do go further.  Somehow, we find we somehow keep going.  In Oxford, he talked about how in these difficult moments if we choose to turn away, we are turning our backs on the Atonement.  In my moment this week when I felt I couldn't go on, I couldn't care anymore, I remembered the promises I had been given recently in Priesthood Blessings, and I realized that if I stopped believing in those promises then, I would be turning my back on the Atonement.  No matter how hard it is to believe in those promises, no matter how impossible it seems, no matter how much this feels like a losing battle, the Atonement is real.  Elder Holland talks about the story when Jesus is with his disciples crossing the lake and the storm comes and the Savior calms the storm, and the disciples begin to realize just how powerful the Savior is.  Elder Holland states that if the Savior is powerful enough to control the elements, why can't we believe He is powerful enough to taken our broken little lives and "fix them up just dandy"?  Elder Holland said this is the church of the happy endings.  Even if I feel I am in the middle of night now, I have to believe that day is coming, that the sun will eventually rise.  And while we are going through these times of a seemingly never ending night, we must remember God's love for us, and that He is closest to us in our greatest moments of pain, even if those are the moments we feel most alone.  That is when God is with us most.

One thing I know about healing from all my training in athletic training and physical therapy is that it takes time to heal.  Healing and repairing and getting rid of pain is a process.  No matter how much we want that quick fix, we have to be patient.  We need to allow ourselves the time to take care of injuries properly and the time to heal.  But if we trust in God, He will be with us every step of the way, and like Alma and his people in Mosiah 24, He will help us carry our burdens and make them easier to bear.  One of my favorites lines of all time from Elder Holland is "God loves broken things".  No matter how broken we feel, it is okay.  We are God's, and He loves us, and He will fix us up just dandy.

Bay Area Talk Transcript:  here

Bay Area Talk Audio:  here  I'm not 100% if I got this to work properly to you can either listen or download the file, so let me know if you can't and I'll email it or something.  The audio is a MUST!!!  Elder Holland is so fabulous to listen to, he is so passionate!  At one point in this talk he is yelling and pounding the pulpit, and it is phenomenal :)

1 comment: