He Lives to Give My Pain Purpose
HE LIVES TO GIVE MY PAIN PURPOSE
By Madison Sigler
I found myself in my early twenties, feeling significantly older than I was; measured in exhaustion from chasing an addiction that I would never be able to catch up to. My husband, Daniel, was in the middle of his drug addiction and I was suffering from depression and anxiety, though I didn’t know it at the time. My dad always told me, “where there’s a will there’s a way” and anyone that could have seen how invested I was in fixing this, would know how much I believed that.
I made all my decisions meticulously, in hopes it would positively change the course of this fight. It was a blur of time with relapses and overdoses, hope then disappointment. I was running on a full tank of control, worry and fear. It felt like my world slowly got dimmer and dimmer day to day and then all the sudden I woke up and everything was dark. Everything was heavy. And if I’m honest, Daniel’s addiction was only part of my struggle.
The other part, maybe the bigger part, was the alienation I felt everywhere else in my life. Despite the greatest of intentions, love was always disguised in advice and concern, so I never felt the love part. The whispers, judgement, scorn and pity each felt like another brutal kick when I was already on the ground. All of those voices accentuated my lifetime struggle of feeling like I was never enough, and feeling separate.
I experienced extremities of what it means to feel alone, hopeless and broken, but as soon as that pain hit, I would either numb my feelings or run from them. It’s not like it was super obvious, or like I realized what I was doing at the time. It looked like binge-watching Netflix, working, buying, proving, scrolling, or doing. I didn’t see peace as a reality for me. I went from feeling like I didn’t deserve to suffer this much, to believing it is exactly what I deserve. I felt embarrassed, like somehow this made me the failure I always deep down knew I would be. I was angry that I had made choices I deeply felt were right, and that it led me here.
The messages I got from the world screamed that I was suffering because of my own choices — that if I’m not perfectly happy then something must be wrong.That everyone else knows what’s right for me better than I do, and that I had to accept that people can say and do whatever they want as long as it’s because they love me. It was their world and mine, and they were so separate. Both couldn’t be true. I could never live in alignment with myself AND with the people I loved. It felt like torture.
Daniel’s addiction was the conduit in which my shattered self ended up in that Addiction Recovery meeting one day. When the meeting ended, everyone started getting up, embracing, chatting and putting away chairs and I sat stunned, watching them in slow motion, absorbing what I had just experienced. It wasn’t any one thing. It was all the things. The piercing honesty, the struggle, the empathy, the language… I just understood it like it was made for me.
That meeting felt like the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were naked, unashamed and connected. The real world was like Satan. He came along and after his influence left them in shame, wanting to hide and isolate themselves. The real world wore me down, so I kept coming back and practiced sitting in my truth, my pain, and gaining my voice. That led to getting a sponsor who was also the spouse of an addict and working the 12 steps for myself. In time, I was able to bring more and more of what I felt in those meetings out into the real world and that’s when things started happening.
By things, I mean lots of things. For one, I acknowledged my anxiety and depression, and officially welcomed them to the team. And pain; pain became my greatest teacher instead of the enemy I avoided because GUYS… turns out the messages from the world were ALL WRONG!
That pain was meant for me.
Pain was the death of my previous self, but also an invitation to a new one; a better one. It was the death of pride, anger, blame, self-pity, distraction, and resentment. It was my invitation to find my people, to learn true humility, experience the atonement of Jesus Christ, deepen my faith, and gain courage, strength, and wisdom.
The unmanageability and pain in my life left me with a level of humility that caused me to recognize my absolute need for my God and Savior. It finally clicked that “where there’s a will there’s a way,” was talking about God’s will all along, not theirs or mine. When I stopped focusing on Daniel’s addiction or hustling outwardly for my worthiness, but instead turned inward to work on myself, I found God there. I got to know Him better, and from a place of humility, let Him change me.
I experienced the miracle that is Christ.
It was more than just receiving comfort for pain — it was being willing to become better from the pain. I echo the words of Paul:
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10, KJV)
So much has changed, and so much hasn’t. Daniel is still struggling with his addiction and people around me still always have a lot to say. It still hurts. I still battle with feeling like I’m not enough, and I still have inconsolable days. What has changed is that I don’t think anything is wrong with me if I’m not happy all of the time, and I no longer believe that I can ever live “good enough” to avoid pain. I have built some trust up with the Holy Spirit, so I leave the discerning up to Him, and while people can certainly say and do whatever they want, I don’t have to accept it just because they love me. What has changed is instead of pain feeling like an admission of failure, it’s an invitation for growth.
Consider what the Savior did. He came down a perfect man and lived a perfect life. With no sins committed, and no debt to pay, Jesus Christ had to experience the flesh, temptations, feel what we each feel, and have the opportunity to give up. But He did not. His ability to support us came from the garden and on the cross — not His perfect life.
What has changed is my desire to follow His example and feel my pain, to never give up, and to allow the atonement of my Savior to change me so I can then support others.
I know that Christ lives. He lives in my pain, but also my progression. He lives in my powerlessness but also my power. He lives to give my pain purpose, and I live to give His pain purpose.