Pain is Going Viral

Pain radiates outward.  One person’s horrible childhood leaves them hurting and vulnerable and they put up defenses and cause pain to their own children.  The pain has spread, like a virus, from one to a handful.  Then those children have families and infect them with variations of their own pain and the web grows broader–reaching neighbors and community members.  We are all bombarded daily with the effects of other people’s pain.  We get offended, gossip, compare and lose faith because so many of our interactions are blunt and bruising.

The recent hoohah within our Church is about one woman’s pain in being ignored and mistreated by her male priesthood leaders.  She found women with similar pain and banded together to try to make things right in the way they felt was best.  Their pain is real, but is also not something they can contain or control.

Her movement has caused pain for some of my friends and family–in very different ways.  People doubting their faith, leaving behind the covenants, community and shared hopes for the future that they have built their lives on.  She attempted to deal with the injustice that brought her pain, and now new families are in pain as a result.  They carry it with them from moment to moment–a sharp ache that makes them speak angrily to their children, harden their hearts toward the Spirit, refuse help from people who are sincere but don’t say the right things.  The pain keeps moving outward and infects others.

All of this pain surrounds us because this is a fallen world.  This is pointed out rather poetically in the opening of the Old Testament when the first crime to be committed, in our earth’s history, was the wicked brother killing the righteous brother.   A sharp reversal from the outcome of the war in heaven. There are hostile beings here, doing everything they can to make us suffer.  They constantly remind us of our pain and prod us to spread it around.  It feels like the world is absolutely engulfed by this exponentially-growing pain.

But God didn’t send us to this fallen earth with no hope.  Even if it is just for four minutes.  He still made a way for us to escape the pain that surrounds us.  “And [Christ] shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind. . . that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:11-12)

When we actually use the Atonement of Christ to neutralize our pain, we can stop the virus from spreading.  He brings peace and healing.  He makes us whole.  He is like the charcoal that absorbs and eliminates the poison in our system.  He doesn’t expect us to make everything right–to face injustice and bring it down, begging on it’s knees.  He said, “For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion. . . I will fight your battles.” (D&C 105:14). He also promised that the meek shall inherit the earth. (Matt. 5:5)  There are vastly more stories in the scriptures of people trusting in God and seeing His hand bring miraculous deliverance than there are of people fixing problems themselves.  He can do it!  He wants us to trust Him and live in peace.

I am not minimizing people’s pain here, there is absolutely injustice in the world; but He is the judge, and there is mercy in His justice for the victim.  All things will be made right.  Exactly right.  He knows who is responsible and He will remedy it without causing the pain to spread.  When we let Christ mete out justice, He gives us peace.  Our part is to accept His peace and refuse to give in to the allure of drama.  We have to let things go.  We have to trust that Christ will take care of it and take care of us.

The process for letting the Atonement in is one I am still trying to work out, but I firmly believe that a sincere heart, praying for help will get the answers needed for each situation.  I’ve had it work in my life through using gratitude to disarm painful memories; through a dream that brought understanding and compassion for a family member, and through simply deciding that I am no longer going to agitate about an issue and just give it over to God.  The book “The Peacegiver” by James Ferrell had some other wonderful insights about how the Atonement plays out in our relationships.

Mr. Ferrell, you can send any royalties my way for this shout out.

I am truly sorry for the people who are in pain right now, whatever the cause.  But let us all turn to Christ and seek real healing.  Shouting  over each other to justify our position spreads this virus.  The world is sick enough without the Mormons coughing all over everything.

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7 responses to “Pain is Going Viral

  1. I feel like using the internet to share pain is a fine line to walk. On the one hand, pain can feel very isolating and it can be such a relief to find others who share it and can commiserate. However, my limited experience surfing the Bloggernacle gives me the impression that a many of those blogs end up mostly to keeping wounds open and festering rather than offering healing. And you’re exactly right that while a support group can be helpful, ultimately the only way to let go of pain is to turn it over to God, a deeply personal experience that isn’t going to happen online.

  2. While I understand your idea behind “The pain keeps moving outward and infects others.” I feel sharing pain in a public way is exactly what the Lord has impressed me to do. I too, am a Mormon Blogger. I blog about pain. I do not do it to cry or whine about pain. But how we can learn from our pain. The discussion about pain should not go silent in public, it should be used to inspire and lift. Pain isn’t going away anytime soon.Eve our first mother said ” It is better that we pass through sorrow, that we may know the good from evil.” Pain isn’t all bad. So sharing lessons from it, is maybe the best way to move forward supporting each- other.Much healing has come to me and countless others online. That is the purpose of my blog. To Mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. It is in line with keeping my baptismal covenants. http://painisapowerfulteacher.blogspot.com/

    • Tiffany, I’m happy to have a link to your blog. Thanks for sharing it. And I agree, sharing the lessons that we learn from pain is powerful. It helps others to get through similar trials. I guess what I am talking about in this instance is the tendency that people have to let their festering, unresolved pain spill over on to other people. When we haven’t yet realized that Christ can help us and we act poorly and make life difficult for those around us–that seems to be the status quo for much of the world right now. And we all just accept it because “they are in pain”. But it isn’t okay to sin just because we are in pain. We need to apply the Atonement and seek healing and the lessons that come from that.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this post since yesterday, and while I absolutely agree with the fundamental premise of it (turn burdens over to the Lord, trust in the Atonement to make things right), I almost feel like this post is saying (though I know it wasn’t your intent, so forgive me), “Everybody has pain, and sharing it only makes everything worse and others feel bad, so sit down, shut up, and have more faith already.” Personally, I feel like this attitude encourages the “all is well in Zion” mentality that causes us Mormons to seek the appearance of perfection by draping tablecloths and centerpieces over our messier experiences and plastering fake smiles over our broken hearts. I don’t agree with the methods of the OW movement, and I agree with Dani that sharing pain publicly (i.e. on blogs) can be a fine line to walk, but if no one ever speaks out about injustice (in the church or anywhere), how will things change? How will others be aware there is even a problem? How can we exercise our baptismal covenants to mourn and comfort if no one shares pain? How can we seek to love and to understand those with other views (something that has been sorely lacking in this whole mess IMO, in my neck of the woods at least) if people aren’t willing to put themselves out there?

    If anyone’s interested, here are a couple posts that have beautifully captured for me the courage, vulnerability, understanding, compassion, and sisterhood that can come from pain-sharing:

    http://segullah.org/daily-special/courage-dear-heart/

    http://outsidethebookofmormonbelt.com/2014/04/21/perspective-and-the-ordain-women-problem/

    I hope I’m not coming across as a troll, because I definitely agree there is a point (which will be different for every person and situation) where each individual needs to decide between peace/healing and their crusade (which seem to be incompatible at least 90% of the time). At some point, if we want peace, we have to be willing to let go of right or wrong, just or unjust, and move on.

    • Lindsay, you will never be a troll. I appreciate your thoughtful response.
      You are right, we shouldn’t be disingenuous. But pain doesn’t have to spew out of us and infect others either–as I commented above just now. There are good ways of dealing with pain (with those we love and trust, going through proper lines of authority, in a self-respecting way) and there are bad ways that spread it around.
      My opinion, and the thing that has shifted for me so radically is to realize that it isn’t my job to fix the world. It is God’s world. And if there is a part I can play, and He wants me to do it, I will. But I have seen better results in my personal life, work life and social life from praying to God for help or needed changes and then having faith that He will take care of it. I feel like that utter dependency and faith is something that we are moving beyond in our “equal rights/equal pay/equal everything” world. We are putting our faith in our own efforts to fix things instead of God’s plan for us.
      I think of the story of Ammon and the people of Zeniff leaving the land of Nephi contrasted with how Alma and his followers escaped the Lamanites. Both escaped while the Lamanite guards were sleeping, but Ammon and the people drugged them first with strong wine. Alma and his people just slipped out while the Lord put a deep sleep on them.
      Both are amazing stories, but the faith of Alma and his people is so powerful. God can do mightier miracles in our lives than we allow Him to. Maybe if we didn’t follow our own plan so much, He would fill in the gaps in miraculous ways.
      But I really appreciate your ideas. I will think about them.

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