This saying has been on my mind: “…individuals finally become willing to abstain when the pain of the problem becomes worse than the pain of the solution” (LDS Addiction Recovery Manual, p.1, emphasis added).
Why would the solution include pain? I think one reason is so that I can’t return to my sins without recalling how much pain they bring. Maybe it’s similar to why God lets me touch a hot stove and afterward obtain medical care, so that I learn what will wound me and what will heal me. Perhaps cleansing all types of wounds—physical, emotional, or spiritual—involves some measure of pain.
I’m thinking of when I got nasty gravel-covered scrapes on my knees and elbows after falling off my bicycle as a kid. My mom would first clean out the gravel and dirt from the wounds. As if that didn’t hurt enough, she’d then bring out the big guns: hydrogen peroxide. I think many of us can recall what that feels like. My mother usually had to repeatedly assure me that the “bubbly medicine” would be good for me. I’m pretty sure I often protested in fear of the pain that I knew would ensue. Eventually she would convince me to trust her and I’d let her apply the painful solution. She was right; it hurt every time, but the wound always got better.
Has learning to trust God been any different for me? I certainly know the pain of my sins and addictions, but I’m just getting to know the pain of repentance and recovery. I’m slowly getting better, and the pain becomes bearable when I plead for God’s grace to sustain me. Just as Heavenly Father promised, I’m experiencing the healing power of Jesus Christ’s Atonement.
It seems to me that I have been given a choice in this life: either the never-ending sorrow of my sins and weaknesses, or the temporary pain of repentance and healing. My experience has been that the former brings even more pain, while the latter yields peace of mind and soul.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the following:
“Suffering for sin does not by itself change anything for the better. Only repentance leads to the sunlit uplands of a better life. And, of course, only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. …whatever the cost of repentance, it is swallowed up in the joy of forgiveness.”
I crave peace and forgiveness. Healing hurts right now, but I can feel the Lord restoring health and life to my soul.
2 thoughts on “Hydrogen Peroxide”
Great post and analogy! Concerning why the solution would cause pain–I was thinking about it in terms of debt. You can keep charging your credit card, trying to ignore that your interest is becoming higher than your income. But at some point, there’s going to be a day where your lies and self-deception falls apart and you’re going to have to pay up.
Giving in to this lust addiction for so long means some deeply ingrained habits–even to the point of altering our personalities. Going against those impulses can feel like making the first payment on a huge debt. Adding the cumulative angle to your analogy means that our injury has had time to fester and become seriously infected. Either way, I’m so thankful for my personal Savior, who allows me the chance to heal/pay off the debt to him!
Thanks for your comment, Robert. Your analogy helps clarify this concept for me. I especially like your final statement, which I feel puts this whole experience in the proper perspective: the Savior has paid the debt, now He’s helping me go through the pain of healing so that I don’t have to do it alone. Thanks for sharing!