The Power of Pain

Everybody hurts (at least R.E.M. told me so…).
“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”
 John Keats
“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
The Princess Bride
 

Aaron Eckhart asking about the pain.
Start right off with some heavy and light-hearted bits of truth (how Mormon-y was Keats, unbeknownst to himself? Pains and troubles schooling an intelligence into a soul? Wow. That’s something that Joseph Smith could’ve said. Poets—mini prophets indeed). I’ve been a bit more introspective than usual, thinking about the pain that I feel and the sorrow on behalf of my fellow Saints, who are in an extremely difficult situation. I’ve been weighed down with the pains and woes of others this past week and wondered why. Why do I feel this way? How can I make it stop? Then I thought of X-Men and some of the thoughts that I touched on last week, but didn’t really explore. These words came to mind:
“It’s not their pain you’re afraid of — it’s yours. And frightening as it can be their pain will make you stronger if you allow yourself to feel it. Embrace it. It will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have that can bear pain without breaking, and it’s born from the most human power: Hope. Please Charles, we need you to hope again.”
Professor Xavier
And these classic Mormon words in times of trial:
“…know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
Doctrine and Covenants 122:7
I’ve been down with the idea of God taking our trials and pains and helping us find value in them for awhile. But this was something a bit more. That the Pain itself is of value and gives us something that we would not otherwise have. Accept that more often than not, this is about compassion—feeling the pains of others. We gain strength through the empathy that we gain from bearing the pains (burdens, perhaps?) of others.
We can better know our Savior by trying in our own small way to feel what he felt. By feeling and embracing the pain of others we can better help them and better be an earthly angel, reaching out and touching the lives of those around us. Christ partially gained his power by suffering for ALL that have, do and will walk the face of the earth (literally and metaphorically, to cover our bases). We gain a bit of that pure Love by trying to do the same.
It’s important though, as Xavier says to his younger self, that we keep hope. Faith, hope and Love are all intricately linked, in an often confusing and unclear fashion creating some sort of chicken and the egg scenario. So it’s fitting that we hold on to hope, when we may feel overwhelmed with the woes of our friends and comrades in Christ.
Some words from an angsty band (Good Charlotte, don’t judge me too harshly. It was one of the first CDs I ever owned personally. I was young and hopeless, OK?) are fitting here:
“Hold on, if you feel like letting go
Hold on, it gets better than you know
Don’t stop looking, you’re one step closer
Don’t stop searching, it’s not over
Hold on”
We’ve just got to hold on. A Christian rock song (“You Are More” by Tenth Avenue North) also fits well here (as do loads of other songs, I’m sure, these are just the ones that happened to stick out as I was thinking and writing):
“’Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.”
Tenth Avenue North, “You Are More”
A solid reminder that even as we are trying to feel compassion for others—that it’s not about us. The endgame is all about better knowing what Christ felt to forgive us, to really, truly, deeply love us. Where our pain takes us.
So the next time Aaron Eckhart asks you, “What about the pain?” (start thisat 8:40 or so to get the question or watch all of it if you’re feeling some cheesy seminary video vibes), maybe you’ll have an answer. Maybe the pain will have helped you become someone better. Or perhaps you were doomed to live long enough to see yourself become the villain…
No. Be someone’s hero and take away their pain (maybe their breath too, while you stand by them forever).

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