I’ve been thinking about pain this week. More specifically, my pain.
The pain of abuse. The pain of depression and anxiety. The pain of grief and loss. The sort of pain that winds up unraveling you when you tug one little thread.
I used to think it would get better one day. I thought I’d be better. I’m not saying that’s impossible. Maybe, one day, the clouds will break and glorious sunshine will drench over me and the mental and emotional anguish will be nothing but a shadow of a memory. But that’s not the lesson I’m learning right now.
It may sound depressing, but there is something empowering about realizing the pain may never end. That God’s will may be to leave it right where it is, a part of the foundation deep inside my soul.
It’s a hard concept to wrap my mind and heart around. After all, everyone tells you it’s going to be better. Everyone tries to teach you how to get to that place. If you just read enough, pray enough, work enough, try enough, you’ll be blessed.
That’s true. There are blessings! There is strength afforded, peace offered, and tender mercies miraculously placed. But the way we say the word blessed…veiled behind it are all sorts of expectations. I don’t think we even realize it, but it seems to me we often equate the word “blessed” with our greatest expectations of a happy ending in this life.
I expected it. I expected the tragic scars of abuse would eventually disappear. I expected to beat my own mental illness into complete submission with the glory of Nephi breaking his chains. I expected to be healed.
I’ve spent so much time waiting, just waiting. For the pain to stop. For the loneliness to cease. For the joy to come and consume me.
I don’t want to wait anymore. I don’t want to waste any more time waiting for healing when it may never come in this life. I feel stronger, more capable, by changing my perspective.
What can I still do, even with the pain? How can I build the kingdom of God in spite of it? My efforts may not make a huge difference. I may not change any life other than my own. I may never amount to much in the world’s eyes. I may never feel safe or cherished in the way I crave.
But I can still make choices. I can choose to put the pain of someone else before my own. I can forgive when others hurt me. I can strive for gentleness when my natural inclination is to rage.
I can stay. Even when the exhaustion and the torment make me long to die, even when there seems to be nothing left to live for, I can live anyways.
I can choose to leave my healing and redemption and exaltation to God and Jesus Christ. I can choose to love them, to choose them, in spite of misery, and sin, and temptation, and longing. I can be grateful for and enjoy the beautiful things they place in my life. I can put my suffering into the eternal plan they have for me, knowing that the promised end to my pain is promised for a time and place beyond this one.
Some days, these choices make the pain seem like nothing. Some days it doesn’t. But I feel stronger knowing there is so much to choose. And I very much want to make the right choice.