At our recent family reunion, I had a chance to catch up with my youngest brother. He is currently serving in the Marines. We were questioning him about life in the Military and especially about boot camp. I can't quite remember why this came out, but he shared that one of his drill sergeants would always repeat "Pain Retains." He would shout this over and over when they would be at the breaking point doing push ups or some other drill.
I have thought over and over about this short concise statement. And I wonder if Heavenly Father has the same philosophy. What if that is part of the purpose of our trials? What if as we suffer pains and afflictions, we are really learning to retain valuable lessons about Faith and our Heavenly Father's unending love for us.
There is no doubt that this past year has been one of pain for me. But as Jared is getting closer and closer to resuming a normal life, I can feel myself starting to come back to life. The pain of this year is subsiding and is being replaced with the surprise and joy that it may finally be over.
Last week marked the one year anniversary of the day he went to the hospital. In fact on the very day, I went with my sister to tour Utah Valley Hospital so she could decide where to deliver her baby next month.
When we first walked in to the hospital, I have to admit to feeling dizzy and struggling to breathe normally. Just watching people walk by in scrubs made my knees weak. The sterile hallways, the people walking by to visit, the nurses station filled with camaraderie, all so familiar and yet a distant memory. As we walked the halls and viewed the facility, I could not help but reflect back to just one year ago when the rug was pulled out from beneath my feet.
And yet, I have survived. Barely, but this is kind of a pass fail situation where a D is as good as an A. Jared is getting stronger ever day. In fact he is at scout camp this week, something I could not have imagined even four months ago.
In thinking about what the pain of this year has retained for me, I can think of several things I know more surely now, than I did a year ago.
One would have to be that my Heavenly Father and Christ love me very much. They have carried me through this year when I didn't think I could last one more hour. I can't quite explain how this works but it is as Craig Zwick stated in a conference talk:
"It is the wounded Christ who leads us through our moments of difficulty. It is He who bears us up when we need more air to breathe or direction to follow or even more courage to continue. Trust in His promise of eternal life and allow peace and hope to distill upon you."
Truer words were never spoken.
Another thing retained by the pain would be the increased awareness and knowledge of how much my friends and family love me. These include my real world friends and cyber world friends. It really is true that you can get by with a little help from your friends. This year has reaffirmed for me that my friends really do care about me. And I needed to be reminded of this fact.
Another thing retained is my love for Jared. He can sometimes be a difficult child, but I have come to be closer to him through my service this past year. I remember one particular night when he was crying in pain and I stood at the foot of his bed rotating his foot while the tears streamed down my face. How I wished I could take his pain away. Our relationship has changed permanently. It is as if we have been through a war together. I wonder if some day we will look back and realize that we needed to be closer. Perhaps it will be one of the lasting blessings of this trial.
Neal A. Maxwell said: "Rather than simply passing through these things, they must pass through us and do so in ways which sanctify these experiences for our good."
It is my hope that this will be true for me. Hopefully, the pain I have experienced will retain the eternal truths of the gospel.
In Helaman 12:3 "And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him."
Truly when we go through a trial and we rely on the Lord to endure the pain, we can not help but remember him and his mercy.
Though I do not enjoy pain, I can see that it is necessary. There is no other way. And some day all the pain will be a distant memory when the Saviour comes and takes me in his arms and wipes away my tears.