I found a quiet moment to ponder today, which is a quiet miracle all its own.

My heart has ached lately. I haven’t wanted to write about it. I have been barraged by thoughts that my pain was unwarranted, that I was being foolish about so many things. But I have ached inside. I have pondered and pondered about things and spent a great deal of time in prayer. No lasting peace was coming. I felt the Lord’s love, His kindness…but true peace has eluded me.

As I prepared to go to the Temple last week, I found myself desperately praying for help, for answers, for peace. I love the Vernal Temple. I love them all, but this one holds such a place for me, largely because I was endowed and sealed there. But there is something else about it. In the celestial room, there is a picture of Christ, the largest I have ever seen. It is the most beautiful painting I have ever seen, and I have loved to look at it and ponder, time and again. As I pondered in the Temple last week, many things came to me, many too personal to share, but one thing came to me that I have pondered again and again.

This painting came to my mind:

This is my favorite painting of Christ, because it has taught me so much throughout my life. I love the compassion, the kindness, the light. I love His healing kindness. I do know that Christ can and will heal us. One of the things I have been praying for lately is His healing power in my heart and my life. But as I pondered last week, one aspect of this painting continually came to my remembrance:

This is probably not the part of this beautiful work that most people enjoy. There is something odd about this man, something terribly unsettling. His eyes are troublesome to me. I used to wonder why Bloch put him in there…he seemed to detract from the love of the Savior. I read a book some time ago by Lloyd Newell that discusses this painting, and though I don’t have it right here in front of me to quote from, I do remember a part of this book that discussed the man in the red cap. One thing that I had read came back to me with a great deal of clarity. The thing that disturbs us so much about this man may be that he reminds us of part of ourselves. He is one of the few people in the painting who is actually noticing Christ. Most of them are going about their business, but this man does see that He is healing someone. Yet he holds back…his arms are around his wounded legs as though he is holding onto his pain, not willing to let it go yet, even though the great Healer is right next to him.

As I have pondered about my own heart and my own life of late, I realized something. It’s something I have realized before in my life, but this time has been the most painful for me. I realized that I have been asking for peace and for help, but deep inside, I have been holding onto my pain, not ready to let it go, because it is pain for something so dear to me that I haven’t let it go. In praying for peace, though I have never actually said it, I know that I have been secretly hoping that peace would come by the Lord telling me that He’s proud I’ve suffered this far, and that now I won’t have to go through that particular trial any more. I was hoping He’d give me my deep, righteous desire after a while, not asking me to truly go all the way through it and fully accept His will. I realized as I looked up at the painting of the Savior in the Temple, pleading for answers and for help, that I have been like the man in the red cap. I have been holding on to my pain and my desires, not willing to fully let them go, because they are too dear to me. But as I looked at the painting of Christ, I realized that I wanted nothing more than to be with Him, to be what He wants me to be, to truly let go of myself and to feel Him with me. I knew that I could not have that without letting go of my own will, every bit of it. I have been able to do that before, and it has been very hard. But nothing has ever been this painful for me before, so nothing has ever been so hard for me to let go of.

I am working very hard on it. I think that the biggest part is learning to have faith that if I do let go of this enormous part of myself, that He will be there to fill it in.

Like I said, I’ve had experiences like this before that I have wrestled with and finally been able to let go of dear dear parts of me and given them to Him, and I have always found greater peace and joy and progression. But this has been a larger pain and a larger challenge than I have ever faced, and it has been a very lonely one. So few people can truly understand the depth of what I am feeling, because it is something that doesn’t affect many people in the way that it does me. So the pain has been even greater.

I find myself being grateful for the “preparatory pain” that has led up to this point in my life. It gives me something to remember, to reflect on. Most of all, to remember that each and every time I have trusted Christ, He has filled me with joy and blessed me in ways that I could never have known before. This time it is harder, because it is impossible for me to understand and fathom how it can be okay.

I needed to write it all down, I think, to clarify my thoughts. I do know that He will help me, as I strive to truly give up all of myself. I am trying desperately to do so, but one thing I have learned to try not to be so discouraged with is that progression is painful and takes time. I am trying, though. I do know that He has “inclined unto me, and heard my cry” (Ps. 40:1). I look forward to the time when I can give up my will enough that I can allow Him to “put a new song in my mouth!” (v. 3)

10 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *