Sometimes, life just catches us off-guard and blindsides us with the unexpected. It doesn’t even have to be a big event if it hits the right spot — like an emotional wound that isn’t as healed as we thought.
That’s what happened to me recently. I really was doing what I was supposed to do, minding my own business, when one little event hit the center of my heart and the pit of my stomach at the same time. I don’t cry in public much, but I did at that moment!
As the adversary’s dart pierced me to the core, a lot of the old feelings of how I have been let down, overlooked, neglected, and maybe even gossiped about (and that gossip believed), flooded back over me. The cost to me and to my children totaled up in my head. It took every ounce of emotional and spiritual control I had at the moment to appear calm and not behave publicly in a way that would cause myself regret and others a lot of discomfort and embarrassment.
Since that moment, I have struggled, and I am still struggling. My brain is again noticing how I seem to be invisible to the people who should be reaching out to me. I’m even questioning the way one of my leaders that I have reached out to has reacted. I feel very alone and isolated. I wonder why I have the “privilege” of being unloved in a congregation that others readily describe as being one of the most loving and inclusive congregations they have ever been a part of.
It would be so easy to quit.
I’ve been here before. I seem to end up here often — more often than most. Quitting seems like it would take away a lot of the pain. It might even wake up a few people to their own “bad behavior.”
The very fact that I’ve been here before is the reason that I DON’T quit.
At some point, I have to accept that my journey through life has left my heart and mind bruised and broken, and I may not heal completely until after mortality is over. My wounds and bruises cause me to have a clouded and sometimes faulty perspective on life. That means that I need to find a way to do as leaders have admonished and “doubt [my] doubts before I doubt [my] faith.”
Because I have been here before, I have been blessed to develop emotional and mental tools specifically designed for these situations. Because they are tools, they are useless unless I do the work.
Here is the work that I have been doing, which has gotten me through in the past:
- Pray, even when I don’t feel like praying. Sometimes, I just apologize to my Father in Heaven that I can’t even really think of anything to say because I am hurting so much at that moment. Sometimes, I beg for the pain to ease off a little bit. In my clearer times, I pray that I can humble myself to see this through as He would have me endure it.
- Immerse myself in the scriptures and uplifting music. The scriptures clearly teach that those things that are good are of God. The dark feelings aren’t good (they tend to motivate me to strike out to hurt others), so they’re not of God. I have learned that trying to make bad things go away is almost always futile, but that grabbing hold of everything light and uplifting so that the bad is simply crowded out works.
- Watch my thoughts. This is scriptural counsel that I hadn’t really noticed until recently in my struggles. My human nature tends to become very judgmental when I think that others are ignoring me and looking down on me. When I catch myself falling back into this trap, I make myself find two or three other plausible reasons for why someone behaved as they did, or I simply talk to myself mentally and point out the faults in my own thinking.
- Accept adversity. As much as I would prefer to live a pain-free life and to think that the more I try to be humble and obedient the more I will be protected from these struggles, that’s not how this life was designed to work. Adversity is a growth motivator. Weakness is a humbling agent. Stumbling and hurting are agents designed to remind me of my need for a Savior. Sometimes, the Lord chooses not to change circumstances or remove a weakness because of it valuable potential to refine me.
- Trust in the Savior’s atonement and promises. Because the Savior overcame the world and atoned for each and every one of our faults, failures, sins, and hurts, He can make promises that can be trusted. He has personally promised me that He is watching over my children and that I may have the joy of seeing some of my family embrace the gospel in this life. He has also promised that all things will work together for the good of those who love him and keep his commandments.
It’s hard to think that things may be for me as they are now because I needed this growth process more than my children needed to be strong in the gospel throughout their lives. It’s hard not to grieve over the lost time and opportunities that are slipping by my kids. It’s hard not to mourn the damage to our relationships. It’s hard to forgive what looks like neglect from others who “should have” seen and stood ready to help my family.
But, if I truly have faith, I have to hold on to the idea that nothing will transpire in this life that can’t be fixed by repentance and Christ’s atonement. I have to hold on to the faith that the Lord is working with my family and all things will be made right as my children are ready. I have to believe that the Lord knows me, loves me, and is working for my good — even if it hurts right now.
Have you ever been blind-sided in life? How did you turn to Christ and his atonement to overcome it? Comment!