We naturally try to avoid pain—sometimes at great cost. Perhaps in a misapplication of scripture, we Mormons even try to avoid the appearance of pain, having perfected the art of “turning it off” and hiding our pain from each other. We may be told over and over that, “the church is a hospital for sinners – not a museum for saints,” but many don’t believe it. I once spoke with a woman who had worked in an office where everyone else was Mormon. She really admired how friendly everyone was. Getting to know some of them better, she also began to notice how skilled they were at hiding their pain.
Are we surrounded by people who are hiding? With pure intentions in raising our children to smile their frowns away, are we subtly telling them that frowns are not allowed?
I once worked with a young man who would wake up every morning depressed and in tears. If he couldn’t reach anyone by phone he would pray and ask God “Why?!?” I asked the young man if he got an answer to his pleading for the depression to stop and to the “Why!?” He said no. Like most of us, myself included, he wanted to be rescued from his pain. This is an absolutely valid response. The apostle Paul pleaded with the Lord three times for his temptation to leave him. Even The Savior asked to have the bitter cup taken from him. Yet, the young man’s pain remained, as did Paul’s, and of course—most significantly—so did the Savior’s.
When we’re faced with uncertainty, or suffering, we often take “false refuge” in things that ultimately do not satisfy, and often make things worse. Many people use the church as a false refuge – for status, pride, certainty, or a false sense that we won’t suffer… even though we are told that it rains on everyone.
What are some common “false refuges” in Mormonism?