Dear 100 Hour Board,
How does one apply the Atonement to situations involving physical pain? I know the repentance process helps us utilize the Atonement to ameliorate the effects of sin, but we are told in the scriptures that Christ also suffered for our physical ailments. So how do we avail ourselves of that succor?
There's only been a few times I've really needed that type of help in my life. I don't consider myself a know-it-all or anything like that. But I base off my knowledge of the experiences that I've had.
The first and most recent experience was talked a little bit about here. The main problem was that Carl Jr.'s dairy allergy problems broke me down physically. Having him constantly on my shoulder weakened my neck, shoulders, back and right hip. I had so much stress due to taking care of him, my shoulders were scrunched up to my ears as that's where I carry all my stress. I was not in a good place. I got priesthood blessing after priesthood blessing with no avail. Then finally one day I decided to pray out loud to God. (I'm not very good at the out loud part so I had to show God that I was serious.) This was probably the most sincere, heartfelt prayer I had given in a long time. I cried, a lot. I asked to use the atoning power to heal my body. I had the faith to be made whole. Not for my sake, but for Carl and Carl Jr.'s sake. For Carl- so he wouldn't have to constantly get distracted from working at home (which is partially commission-based) and have to take care of Carl Jr. for me. Carl would be picking him up from the crib, burping him, and carrying him wherever he needed to go. I couldn't even pick Carl Jr. up or bend my back without intense pain. For Carl Jr.- so I could stop feeling like a milk machine and being able to interact with him more. Additionally, being able to burp him well so he wouldn't vomit everywhere if he wasn't. Honestly, during that time, it was a success if he didn't vomit every two days.
After my prayer, I felt better physically! But I wasn't made whole as I hoped for. Instead, I received inspiration immediately that I needed to go to physical therapy to get the professional help that I need to get stronger. Now I've been going for about 6 weeks, and I've seen a big difference. I understand why I couldn't be made whole right then and there. For starters, I needed to learn to have better posture. There were things that I was doing that made certain parts of my body weak and I had to correct those bad habits. That couldn't have been changed within myself through the Atonement, I had to do my part. I'm still not perfect even six weeks later, but I stand up taller with improved posture, my mental health is a lot better, and I ask for a lot less help from Carl. It's a little bit of an uphill battle as Carl Jr. gains weight quickly as any normal baby would, but I have a more positive outlook on it all.
My second experience still had to do with physical pain, but it was due to all of the emotional things that were going on as a missionary. I was so depressed about having no investigators and tracted all day every day in the hot, humid summer. I was heartbroken as I had gotten Dear Janed earlier that month. I was ready to go home. I was talking to my mission president that night telling him to book me a plane ticket. My mission president ended up making daily goals a lot more lax for us as I screamed in his ear, "I HATE MAKING 40 PHONE CALLS PRESIDENT!" My companion was also changed the very next day as my original companion and I didn't communicate very well. (I was unaware that she was talking about me to others and not to my face.) I got a blessing from my district leader that day as well. I don't really remember anything it said besides the fact that I needed to study the Atonement more to more fully understand and apply it. I somewhat laughed since I was a missionary and I read the scriptures for one hour each day. But I did what God told me to do, and immersed myself into the Atonement for personal scripture study. As I finished, I prayed with the same sincerity that this emotional pain (that was very much physical in my heart and made me sick to my stomach) would be taken from me and I would feel it no more. My prayer was answered. As I spoke the words 'amen' a huge weight just lifted away completely. I was happy, I was relieved, and I finished out my mission.
I don't know what kind of physical pain that you are going through, but I hope in some way that this was of help to you. If you'd like to reach out and talk even more, my email is Goldie.Rose(at)theboard.byu.edu.