Monday, November 29, 2010

Sorrow--Necessary or Unnecessary Pain?

The most important reason to avoid Unnecessary Pain and to stay out of the Pit of Illusion is that when we are in the Pit we have removed ourselves from the Spirit. The Spirit resides in Truth. Therefore, when we leave the Realm of Truth and fall into the Pit of Illusion we make it very difficult to receive the promptings of the Spirit. Our negative mental chatter also makes it almost impossible to hear the still, small voice that will guide us back to Truth.

Mormon realized this when he was abridging the Book of Mormon. When recounting the story of Alma admonishing his people who had strayed from the Truth, he tells us that Alma “began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the spirit of the Lord did not fail him”(Alma 4:15). The word nevertheless means “in spite of that.” And what we learn here is that Alma is experiencing negative emotions, but in spite of that the Spirit is with him.

The reason for this is that there are a few emotions that can be Necessary Pain or Unnecessary Pain and sorrow is one of them. The difference comes in what motivates the sorrow. Sorrow means “deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone or something loved.” But we often call any sadness sorrow.  Among other things, we experience the Necessary Pain of sorrow when a loved one dies or as in Alma’s case when we see those around us doing things we know are going to cause them eternal suffering. We experience the Unnecessary Pain of sorrow when we are sorry for ourselves in a self-pitying way or when the sorrow comes from thinking things should be different than what they are.

The Spirit will always help us through the Necessary sorrow of life, but we are on our own when we take on Unnecessary sorrow. Therefore, we should pay attention to our own emotions and learn to identify whether we are feeling Necessary or Unnecessary Pain. Then we trust in the Lord to help us through the Necessary sorrow, and learn to drop the Unnecessary sorrow. That way we Live in Truth and the joy that accompanies it.


Wendi said...

I appreciate this post. This is a difficult topic for me, though, because I often feel deep sadness because of my emotional illness. Sometimes it seems like no matter what I do, the sadness won't go away. But I'm going to keep working on this. :)

Kaylie said...

Thanks for this insight. I think it takes a lot of mental discipline to not get caught up in selfish, unproductive sorrowful thoughts, and that's something I'm trying to work on. It makes sense that it would be harder for us to receive promptings from the spirit if we are too consumed in our own worries about things that are beyond our control. If we focus our thoughts more on others and how we can help them, then the spirit can more easily direct our thoughts to help us find fulfillment through serving others.