Just watched “Sense and Sensibility” last night. The most striking thing to me in the story is how the main character (Elinor?) acts with perfect reservation and propriety throughout the whole movie, even at times to her own detriment, or at least the detriment of her social situation. We see her enduring, putting up with things, submitting herself to the “higher good” even when it doesn’t benefit her directly.
Then, in the culminating moment, when she discovers that her true love – Edward – is not married, all of her trials and sufferings become worth it, for the object of them all finally falls within her grasp. Her gratitude, excitement, and joy are so overwhelming that she simply breaks down – really breaks down – and a lifetime of pent-up frustrations and struggles burst forth in tears of relief and joy. Such exquisitely sweet release from sorrow!
I’ve seen similar, though certainly not quite as dramatic, things in my own pursuit of “love requited”. But the greatest implications are of a much more general scope. Each of us, except maybe the most hardened psychopaths whose consciences have been somehow silenced, has regrets for past mistakes. Through life we accumulate a baggage of frustrations, disappointments, hurts, and feelings of remorse and sorrow. Some bury these things in their hearts by turning cold toward the world, or claiming that they are above the shackles of human emotion and act on cool rationality alone. Those who refuse to so directly give up their humanity do it indirectly – through the bottle, or lives of waste or extravagance. Anything to distract oneself from the bitternesses of mortal life.
But for each of us it is possible for a moment of release to come, just like the enduring Ms. Dashwood. When we humble ourselves to the point where we are able to accept the notion that Jesus Christ has suffered for our sins, our sorrows, and our pains, we will be able to transfer the bitter baggage we carry onto the shoulders of He who is merciful.
“And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.” (The Book of Mormon, Alma 40:12)
And from Isaiah: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5)
I am no religious zealot. I do not accept the notion of Christ as the Savior of mankind just because it’s a nice idea, or because my family does, or because I know nothing else. I accept Him because his Atonement for us all completes a picture that is otherwise hard to reconcile – the balance of justice and mercy, the relief from weakness and pain that is so needed in this world. I accept Him because his Holy Spirit tells me in my heart that He lives! Why does the world reject Him, when what He has to offer is exactly what they need?
Pax in terra. It will come no other way than one heart at a time.