A few weeks ago I had was at an Early Returned Missionary Conference because, surprise, I am an ERM. One of the speakers there kept saying that “healing is feeling,” and I haven’t been able to get that little phrase out of my head. As I’ve continued to think about and ponder what this means a few thoughts of have come to my mind.
There’s the obvious, that I think we all think about when we hear this phrase without thinking about it too much, which is that when we really feel something then we can begin to heal from it.
But I want to focus on a little deeper meaning from a different perspective. I think it’s a little easier for us to internalize this phrase and do it when we experience the hurt, trial, or trauma ourselves; but what about when someone else is going through something they need to heal from?
Because I returned home early from my mission I started a blog where I share stories of righteous desires not always going according to plan. And something that I have learned from my own story and reading and sharing others’ is that sometimes we dismiss what people are going through or experiencing as trivial. I don’t think it’s ever intentional but it happens, and it can cause even more hurt and discouragement.
How would it make you feel if you were married to someone with an addiction and people kept telling you to pray, when you’re praying harder than you ever have before in your life? How would it make you feel if your spouse left the church and people kept telling you to go to church, where you feel alone and alienated, and everything will work out? How would it make you feel if you’d been diagnosed with a chronic illness and people kept telling you that if you’ll just keep studying your scriptures you’ll be blessed and feel better, but you hurt so bad or so much that you can’t even read?
We, as wonderful members of The Church of Jesus Christ, tend to throw out those “Sunday School” answers to people’s problems and trials when that is not always the answer.
Are you praying?
Are you reading your scriptures?
Are you going to church?
Are you serving others and forgetting about yourself?
Are you exercising your faith?
Are you really trying?
I was a missionary when I went through an extremely difficult trial. I prayed more times a day than I can count. I read my scriptures every morning for hours and then shared them with others throughout the day. I went to at least 6 hours of church every week, sometimes more. I left my family, friends, schooling, job, home, comfort zone, ways to communicate, etc. so that I could share a message with God’s children – I think that counts as service and forgetting myself. I had enough faith to leave everything I just mentioned to go live with people I’d never met, in a place I’d never been. I felt like I was trying: I’d get up and go to bed on time, I’d knock on door after door trying to find someone who’d listen, I dedicated time and energy to learning a new language, I quickly learned how to do everything (including ride a bike) in a skirt. I was definitely living the answers to those questions but I was still struggling.
And those answers aren’t always THE answers. Sometimes the “healing is feeling” means that we, as the onlooker to someone going through a hard time, should also feel their trials and hurts and sorrows. Isn’t it said that we should “mourn with those that mourn, yea comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9)? Didn’t our ultimate example, even our Savior Jesus Christ, do exactly that? When Mary came to Him, weeping saying that her brother would not have died if He was there what did He do? He didn’t tell her she should’ve had more faith or that she should’ve prayed more. He wept (John 11:35)! He wept with her! He felt her anguish, pain, sadness, etc. He has felt that for ALL OF US. Let’s follow in those perfect footsteps and do that for our fellow Brothers and Sisters. Let’s try and feel their experiences so we can TRULY know how to help them.
I am definitely guilty of giving those Sunday school answers or even, “Our Savior knows how you feel, turn to Him.” And, of course, those can be right and good, but let’s take it one step further because sometimes that’s the last thing people need to hear. Am I right? Sometimes when we share what we’re struggling with it’s not to hear what we already know; it’s to hear that someone genuinely cares and wants to help us get through it or to feel like our world isn’t really crashing down around us.
Be genuine when asking someone how they are or what’s going on in their life, and then be genuine with your response too! I know I’m less inclined to share real answers when people keep telling me, “It’ll all work out,” because I already know that. I didn’t spill my heart out to be told what I already know. I did it in hopes of connecting with you and/or feeling better about the whole situation.
Let’s be the instruments He sent us here to be, the answer to those prayers, the angels here on earth. Let’s feel what others are going through so we can help them heal.Ally is married and has two beautiful daughters. She enjoys playing soccer, loves the Utah Jazz, and will never say no to a chocolate chip cookie. She was diagnosed with anxiety and depression while serving in the Texas McAllen mission and created a blog (http://silentlysurvivingsouls.blogspot.com/) to create mental health awareness and help others know they’re not alone in their trials.
You can find out more from Allyson at @allysonhayward and @silentlysurvivingsouls.