The past month has been tough. Surgery #9 happened on March 5 and each moment since then has been a challenge. Every day, I have been going to physical therapy…or, as I like to call it…physical torture. Remember in elementary school when someone would grab your pinkie finger and push down on it as hard as they could until you would scream, “Uncle”? Imagine doing that for two hours a day, every day, on every finger…only when you scream, “Uncle”, the torture continues and quite possibly, intensifies. It’s quite an adventure. Pain is something I have become intimately acquainted with and I don’t think that will be changing any time in the near future. However, I am now able to pick up small balls with my fingers and build towers with colorful cones. It’s pretty exciting!
My greatest accomplishment of the past month came a couple of weeks ago when I picked up my violin and squeaked out a ‘D’ scale. After that, I played a few bars of “Away in a Manger”…which just happened to be the closest music at hand. It just about killed me (and anyone who happened to be listening). My hand was extremely sore from forcing my fingers down into a position that could grasp the bow…and my wrist didn’t move very well…but I did it! I’ve been practicing everyday since then. Although it is very choppy and sounds somewhat like it did in 3rd grade, it is improving. Someday, I’ll WOW you all with an actual performance. Since I wasn’t sure that I would ever hold my bow again, I’m pretty excited about this. Baby steps…
The frustrations and accomplishments of this month have taken me back to the days immediately following the accident last year. On May 9, 2014, my life was forever changed. The days and weeks ahead were fraught with uncertainty. I wasn’t sure if my hand could be saved, and if it could, I didn’t know how much use of it I would regain. But I will never forget the feeling that washed over me when I first woke up in ICU and realized where I was and what had happened. It was a feeling of profound peace. I had no idea how my life was going to play out with these new circumstances, but I knew it would all be ok. There were many things that had been troubling me…but in that moment, I knew that the Lord was watching over me and my family and I had no reason to be concerned. That feeling has never left. Through 9 surgeries and hundreds of hours of physical therapy, through infections, I.V.’s and 5 months of saline injections in my arm, through the ups and downs of all I have experienced, I have known that he is there.
Does that mean it has been easy? No! Definitely not! There have been plenty of days where I just wanted to quit. There have been days where the frustrations of my disability have left me angry and lashing out. There have been days where I curled up in a ball and cried. There have been days where I have isolated myself from the world because it was too hard to face the normalcy of other people’s lives. But even on those dark days, the days where I really wanted to give up, I have felt the peace and comfort that can only come from One Source. That peace, that comfort, is the great gift that comes from the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. You see, he didn’t just atone for our sins and weaknesses, he atoned for all that is wrong in this world. In a way inconceivable to man, he experienced everything any one of us will ever experience, so that he might succor, or run to us in our times of need.
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma teaches this concept with these words:
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:11-13)
The atonement of Jesus Christ is about so much more than forgiving sin. It is about healing broken hearts and binding up wounds. It is about sharing burdens and relieving pain. It is about comforting the lonely and bringing peace in times of trial. I don’t know how he does it, but I have experienced each one of those things…and have known that they were gifts from my Heavenly Father, given to me through His Son. In Matthew, the Lord says:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)
Each of us carries burdens because that is what this life is all about. Mortality was meant to be a test. Several months ago, my son said to me, “I feel like our family has a lot in common with Job.” There are days when I feel the same way. It seems like the tests and trials of this life have decided to camp out on our doorstep. Sometimes, the bad days turn into weeks and months. As a matter of fact, this month has been one of those times. But through it all, I have felt the presence of the Spirit and can testify that we are not alone.
Tomorrow is Easter. This has always been one of my favorite holidays. It occurs in the Spring, when the earth is bringing forth its most beautiful vegetation, signifying birth and life. President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “There would be no Christmas if there were no Easter.” What a powerful statement about this holiday! At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of our Lord. He lived a perfect life, loving and serving all with whom he came in contact. As part of our Father’s plan, he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood, atoning for all the imperfections in this world. Then he was betrayed, taken by a mob and crucified on Golgotha. Three days he lay in the tomb, but on that first Easter morning, he rose again. Tomorrow, we celebrate the glorious resurrection of our Lord. Through his great atoning sacrifice, he has overcome pain, heartache and sin. But most importantly, he has overcome death.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has created a beautiful video to celebrate our Living Lord. It is entitled, Because He Lives, and is included at the beginning of this post. I would encourage you to watch it during this Easter season. As we color our Easter eggs and leave them for the Easter Bunny to hide, as we participate in family dinners and other holiday traditions, let us remember the real reason for this celebration. I testify that he lives, and because he lives, we, too, can live again!