Tuesday, April 12, 2011

LDS Writer Blogfest: The Atonement Covers all Pain

Welcome to the second annual LDS Writers Blogfest!

This year, I and other LDS writers are sharing our favorite talk (think sermon) from our recent General Conference, a semiannual meeting where members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather either in Salt Lake City in person (or in front of their computers/TVs) to listen to inspired words.

Watching Conference at Granna's house with our kids plus some cousins.

I chose Kent L. Richards' talk "The Atonement Covers All Pain", and I'd like to share my impressions on this talk and how the atonement has operated in my life.

Regarding his experiences as a surgeon, Elder Richards said:

I have pondered about the purpose of pain. None of us is immune from experiencing pain. I have seen people cope with it very differently. Some turn away from God in anger, and others allow their suffering to bring them closer to God.
Can suffering really bring us closer to God? Doesn't that sound a little perverse? Why can't He just be close to us without pain?

I think it's because we are prone to get stuck in the day-to-day, to focus on all of the things we have to do, instead of who we want to become. We get busy.

I'm not saying that God causes pain, but that He uses all the circumstances of our lives, good and bad, to reach out to us.

Our oldest son, Isaac, broke his leg when he was almost two--a spiral fracture of his femur that was extremely painful (When I write about the sound of bones grinding, I know what I'm talking about!) As I write this, eight years later, the memory of picking him up and laying him on the couch, calling my husband to come home from work, driving to the hospital while Nathan held our crying child in his arms still brings me to tears. There was nothing I could say to a two year old that would make him understand that this would end, that eventually he would heal. We cried with him. It passed. 

I don't say that that was an enjoyable experience, or one I want to repeat, but it has brought me to a deeper understanding of the Savior's love for us, because for the first time, I really got how deeply the Savior loves us to take our suffering upon himself.

Isaac has grown into a boy with a kind heart, one with enormous empathy for other's feelings, and I believe much of that empathy is a result of this and other experiences in his young childhood.

(Did I mention he was accident prone as a toddler? He broke his arm 5 days after getting the body cast off. Leg muscles had atrophied, so that wasn't entirely his fault. And there was the time he broke his collar bone by rolling off the bed to escape the Tickle Monster. He sure showed Daddy how fast he was.)

Would I ever wish for similar situations? No. But would I give back these traumas if it meant losing these sweet blessings, the tender heart that my son has developed, and my deeper understanding of the Atonement? No. I wouldn't.

Keep in mind, there are many sources of pain. Elder Richards said:
Much of our suffering is not necessarily our fault. Unexpected events, contradicting or disappointing circumstances, interrupting illness, and even death surround us and penetrate our mortal experience. Additionally, we may suffer afflictions because of the actions of others.
And if you're like me, and miss beloved relatives who have died, this account may be one of the most comforting parts of the Elder Richards' talk:

Thirteen-year-old Sherrie underwent a 14-hour operation for a tumor on her spinal cord. As she regained consciousness in the intensive care unit, she said: “Daddy, Aunt Cheryl is here, … and … Grandpa Norman … and Grandma Brown … are here. And Daddy, who is that standing beside you? … He looks like you, only taller. … He says he’s your brother, Jimmy.” Her uncle Jimmy had died at age 13 of cystic fibrosis.

“For nearly an hour, Sherrie … described her visitors, all deceased family members. Exhausted, she then fell asleep.”

Later she told her father, “Daddy, all of the children here in the intensive care unit have angels helping them.”
Perhaps some of you have had similar experiences. Death is not a one way street, it's more like stepping to the other side of a one-way mirror.

I am so grateful to the Savior for fulfilling Heavenly Father's beautiful plan of salvation and peace. Thank you for reading, and you're welcome to ask questions, etc. I'll do my best to answer. Please check out the other posts:
Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jennifer McFadden: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jessie Oliveros: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become as a Little Child”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Tamara Hart Heiner: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”


  1. Thanks for this post, Kelly! Being a parent has definitely helped me understand the Atonement better, too.

  2. Nice post! It's true that as much as we don't want to repeat our painful trials, we wouldn't remove them because of the lessons we've learned.

  3. Our second child, a girl, had food allergies and ear infections for much of her early life, and she's always had great empathy, too. It's so hard to watch a child in pain, but we can't keep them from it. Thanks, Kelly.

    (I notice that even though we picked the same talk, we didn't use any of the same quotes from it.)

  4. "I'm not saying that God causes pain, but that He uses all the circumstances of our lives, good and bad, to reach out to us."

    Wonderfully said, Kelly, and such a true statement. Thanks for sharing this with us. (And Ben, I think it's pretty cool how your and Kelly's posts complemented each other so well.)

  5. Thank you so much for your post! I loved this talk (and blogged on it as well). I definitely think watching those we love go through difficult times teaches us more about our Heavenly Father's love.

  6. Hey guys! Thanks for your comments. It's nice to share a spiritual moment with you and get to know some new faces.

  7. Such a great talk and I love your insight. Thanks for sharing! It amazes me how close children are to all things spiritual. They see what we've desenitized ourselves from. It's great to "meet" you!

  8. Wow, I've been lucky my kids haven't had much pain in their lives (although my son had VUR which involved catheters- poor kid). I loved the story at the end of your post about the girl having angels with her in the hospital. Beautiful!

  9. Thank you for such a beautiful post. That story at the end brought tears to my eyes! We have no idea how close the angels are to our children or to us.
    It's so nice to meet you! :)

  10. Awww Kelly. This talk was one of my favorites, and has become my theme for the recent trial of a baby in NICU.

    It's important to remember that pain plays a holy purpose in our life. The savior chose to suffer to understand us, and we come closer to Him through our painful lessons in life as well.

  11. It was such a beautiful talk and so are your thoughts on it. Thank you for sharing this! It's always fun to meet new people as well!

  12. Wonderful post Kelly. I've been reading a lot of the blogfest posts this morning and each one makes me tear up even more. Thanks for keeping the spiritual feast going.

    I loved this talk too.

  13. Beautiful, thank you! Like you said with your son, I think that any time we experience pain it takes us to a deeper place in ourselves, a place that is connected with God. Sometimes we have to experience that in order to reach the place where He can reach us.

    By the way, if you've never read "The Peacegiver" by James Ferrell, it is a remarkable and wonderful book on the Atonement. :-)

  14. You've just made me grateful that none of my children have broken bones. They've done plenty of other things but not that.

    I feel so much closer to my Savior when I'm going through something really hard. Thanks for sharing this.

  15. Thnaks for all your comments. It's great to get to meet so many people with similar beliefs. I've really enjoyed all of the posts I've read via this blogfest also:)

    And KaseyQ- I'll put that on my tbr list. thanks!

  16. Hi Kelly! This is my third day of trying to catch up on the blogfest so I'm a little late...but thank you for this post! The Atonement is such a rich, complicated topic to discuss, and you did it well. I've also found that those painful times have deepened my understanding of the Atonement. Who wants pain? But without it, we'd know nothing.