Our Scars are Our Witness
There is a huge misconception within our culture that we need to be joyful in our struggles and our trials. There is even a stronger misconception that we are not trusting God if we find ourselves in darkness or despair. Further those with mental/emotional illnesses and disorders are often told to “get over it” or trust God more, instead of people reaching out to comfort and support them.
There can be great damage that can come from remaining in a state of despair without an attempted hope for the light in our life, however, there can come great strength in the feeling of momentary hopelessness. I have had several experiences in my life where I did not find joy and honestly, may have been considered crazy if I didn’t feel despair.
My father passed away when I was very young, and often times I felt pain, sorrow, and anger. I knew the plan of salvation, but I didn’t have a full comprehension of what it all meant. I don’t feel anyone has a complete understanding of the full eternal purpose, except the Lord.
I went through an abusive situation in high school that led to a downfall of my character. Generally in a situation like that , we are expected to feel remorse and regret when we know we have broken the commandments, however, remorse and despair are different, even if many times they share the same company.
I was devastated the day, at seventeen years old, I placed my newborn son, who had been my saving grace from a life of personal destruction, into the arms of another woman to raise him and walked out of the room to forever be on the sidelines of his life because I knew that I would not be able to give him the gift of an eternal family.
I remember shaking in complete fear the night I broke a nearly seven year silence to my husband about the abuse I faced in high school that I had never talked about.
I had a feeling of complete hopelessness as my husband, a man I had built a home and started a family with, a man that I had been eternally sealed to only two years prior, knelt in front of me telling me of his addictions and infidelities. The man I had built so much trust and safety with now seemed completely broken.
Not one of these times did I find joy in my pain and, during these trials, I have rarely found myself not trusting the Lord. In fact, it’s been quite opposite. In my times of trials and darkness, I have found myself clinging to my faith in the Lord the most. It’s in the heat of a devastating situation that I truly recognized the strength of my faith.
One day while talking with a trusted individual about the current situation with my husband, he asked how my faith was. I told him that my faith was always the strongest when I was going through a painful trial. His response shocked me.
“So, do you seek being around people and situations that will hurt you in order to rekindle your faith? I would think your faith would be stronger when you recognize that you are living God’s plan and know that you are facing your trials with joy and thankfulness of His blessings.”
How many times is sorrow mentioned in the scriptures? What about despair, grief, mourning, and pain? Doesn’t it say in Matthew “blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted”. How many times in Christ’s life did he feel sorrow, pain, and grief? We all know about what he went through in the garden, but what about the other times?
The shortest passage in the scriptures is two words. “Jesus wept.” Here he stood at the home of his dear friend that was now dead and he wept. Later it says that he was “groaning in himself” as he went to the grave of Lazarus. Christ was not lacking in faith of his own divine power. He was not questioning his Father or falling to weakness. Christ wept because he felt sorrow.
All to often we match sorrow, misery, pain and grief with guilt and sin. While guilt can bring about these emotions, these emotions are not always caused from guilt. It is the mortal experience that we will know the opposite of everything. We cannot know joy without sorrow, pleasure without pain, happiness without grief.
Quentin L. Cook gave one of my all time favorite talks in October 2008. “What ever the source of the trials, they cause significant pain and suffering for individuals and those who love them.” He also says that many say in their prayers, while experiencing these pains and trials, “Hope you know, I’m having a hard time”.
Who are we to discount someone else’s sorrow as weakness when we have all fallen to our own sorrow and grief. Just as we should not compare our sins with the sins of others, neither should we compare our trials with those of others. We should not assume that because we have faced a certain trial with joy and thankfulness that someone else will or is able to.
When Christ was resurrected he showed the scars in his hands and feet to his disciples. Not only were these scars a witness of who he was, they were a witness of what he faced for us. While our physical scars will be no more after this life, the emotional scars we will bare after this life are a witness of what we faced to return to our Heavenly Father. We are here as mortal beings to experience this life and face our own trials and to be on a path of progression to return to the Lord’s presence. To be able to face our Lord and say, “It was hard, at times I didn’t know if I’d find my way through, but I have returned in spite of it all to earn my place in heaven.”