Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Willingness to Learn From Pain

The following quote is from Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of pilot Charles Lindbergh. Their baby was kidnapped, which eventually resulted in the child's death. In looking back on her life, Mrs. Lindbergh wrote:

"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable." (Time, 5 Feb. 1973)

Alma and Amulek had the power to bring down punishment upon the wicked men who killed the believers of the word of God. But Alma would not use his power in that manner. He explained that God permits the righteous to suffer for a purpose. (See Alma 14:11)

Spencer W. Kimball said:

"Now, we find many people critical when a righteous person is killed, a young father or mother is taken from a family, or when violent deaths occur. Some become bitter when oft-repeated prayers seem unanswered. Some lose faith and turn sour when solemn administrations by holy men seem to be ignored and no restoration seems to come from repeated prayer circles. But if all the sick were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, agency, would be ended.

"If pain and sorrow and total punishment immediately followed the doing of evil, no woul would repeat a misdeed. If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously given the doer of good, there could be no evil--all would do good and not because of the rightness of doing good. There would be no test of strength, no development of character, no growth of powers, no free agency, no Satanic controls.

"Should all prayers be immediately answered accordning to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, soorow, disappointment, or even death; and if these were not, there would also be an absence of joy, success, resurrection, eternal life, and godhood.

"We knew before we were born that we were coming to earth for bodies and experience and that we would have joys and sorrows, ease and pain, comforts and hardships, health and sickenss, successes and disappointments, and we knew also that after a period of life we would die. We accepted all these eventualities with a glad heart, eager to accept both the favorable and unfavorable. We eagerly accepted the chance to come earthward even though it might be for only a day or a year. Perhaps we were not so much concerned whether we would die of disease, of accident, or of senility. We were willing to take life as it came and as we might organize and control unreasonable demands."

(See Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 106 and The Improvement Era, March 1966, pages 180, 210.)

Like Mrs. Lindbergh said, everyone suffers. How we respond to that suffering dictates who we become. Our lives can become like a tragic play, or we can choose to learn and grow, instead of becoming bitter and unhappy. Of course we will have ups and downs. Of course we will suffer, we will be depressed, angry, and resentful. But we must not allow that to consume us, and we must work hard to turn our sorrows to joys.

Throughout my life I have known a lot of pain, a lot of hurt, anger, and frustration. I have also known some joy. I believe that much of the joy that I have experienced has come as a direct result of the pain I have endured. Who I am today and who I will become is so deeply attached to my suffering that there is no way to separate them. My understanding of people, my ability to empathize with another human being without judgment comes completely from the hard times in my life. Every day is a struggle to turn pain to joy, but it is possible to do so. I just have to remember that I knew before my birth the pain I would encounter, but I knew without a doubt that the benefits outweighed the negatives and was eager to endure the pain.

1 comment:

VICKI IN AZ said...

I love this!!
I posted a link to your blog on my facebook today!! I was so excited to find you.
You are insightful and a true treasure!