I’ve recently suffered a bit of a setback, and I haven’t been doing too well the last few days. I’ve been in one of those states where I feel very jittery and unsettled. It’s one of those times where I feel like if I can’t be a woman, I’m going to explode. I’ve mentioned feeling suicidal before, and honestly, I don’t feel like that now. But I do feel like I wish I could just roll over and die. I can’t focus on anything. I haven’t felt productive at work. It’s been a really rough time for me. But I don’t want this post to sound hopeless or despondent. Because there is one very important thing I’ve learned.
Even when I feel hopeless and desponden, I know this—it will pass. I remember why I named this blog “Sweet is the Peace.” Here is the hymn where that name comes from. The words are deeply moving, and very appropriate to my situation:
- Sweet is the peace the gospel brings To seeking minds and true.
With light refulgent on its wings It clears the human view.
- Its laws and precepts are divine And show a Father’s care.
Transcendent love and mercy shine In each injunction there.
- Faithless tradition flees its pow’r, And unbelief gives way.
The gloomy clouds, which used to low’r, Submit to reason’s sway.
- May we who know the sacred Name From every sin depart.
Then will the Spirit’s constant flame Preserve us pure in heart.
- Ere long the tempter’s power will cease, And sin no more annoy,
No wrangling sects disturb our peace, Or mar our heartfelt joy.
- That which we have in part received Will be in part no more,
For he in whom we all believe To us will all restore.
- In patience, then, let us possess Our souls till he appear.
On to our mark of calling press; Redemption draweth near.
Another thing that got me thinking was my scripture study this morning. I was reading in John 14. This is in the latter part of John, where Jesus is giving His Apostles final instructions before his suffering and death. I am impressed that Jesus trusted us with these deeply personal instructions to His most trusted servants. The promises are amazing (especially the promise of the Second Comforter—I’m not going to go into it now, but WOW). In v. 27, Christ assures His troubled Apostles, who are starting to comprehend His impending death:
The important thing about this promise, especially to me, is not just that Christ promises His Apostles peace. It’s the type of peace He promises them. “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
The world’s version of peace is safety from trouble and torment. It is lack of adversity and opposition. It is the peace we feel when everything is going well.
This is emphatically not how things went for the Apostles. They were persecuted, beaten, falsely accused, and most eventually glorified the Lord with martyrs’ deaths. James was soon beheaded. John was exiled. Thomas is purported to have been martyred in a foreign land while preaching the Gospel. According to tradition, Peter, the Chief Apostle to whom the Lord had entrusted the Sealing Power, insisted on being crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to suffer the same death as the Lord. This is not the world’s promised peace.
The peace that the Lord promises is a deeper, more profound peace. It is the peace that comes from the assurance of the Spirit. That assurance comes from making and keeping covenants. When we do that, we receive the Holy Spirit of Promise, which the Father sheds forth on all those who are just and true (see D&C 76:53). When we have this assurance, we have the peace of knowing that our lives are pleasing to God. And more than that, we have the privilege of communion with the Spirit. This is particularly important for those who have received saving ordinances because one of those ordinances is receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. That Gift is the promise that the Spirit will be your constant companion whenever you are worthy. That Spirit brings peace, joy and assurance to us, despite our mortal circumstances.
I have mentioned before that those who have “transitioned” have claimed to find great peace in their assumed identities. I have also said that I do not dispute that they have found a type of peace. They have reconciled their bodies and their public personas with their internal feelings, and have thus removed a source of internal strife. But that is not the peace that I seek. I do not pretend to know the spiritual consequences, if any, for those who make that choice without having first made certain covenants. But I could obtain that type of peace only by forsaking sacred covenants I have made. If I were to do this, I would lose the Spirit and the peace it brings. I would be forsaking a lasting, spiritual peace (the kind that Jesus spoke of) for a temporal peace (the kind His Apostles did not have).
The peace I have is the assurance of receiving promised blessings if I keep covenants. For example, consider this covenant:
33 For whoso is afaithful unto the obtaining these two bpriesthoods of which I have spoken, and the cmagnifying their calling, are dsanctified by the Spirit unto the erenewing of their bodies.34 They become the asons of Moses and of Aaron and the bseed of cAbraham, and the church and kingdom, and the delect of God.35 And also all they who receive this priesthood areceive me, saith the Lord;36 For he that receiveth my servants areceiveth me;37 And he that areceiveth me receiveth my Father;38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s akingdom; therefore ball that my Father hath shall be given unto him.39 And this is according to the aoath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
But I am also warned in the next verse:
So if I keep the covenant, there are great blessings promised; and the promise is so firm, even the Father, who is Almighty God, cannot break it. But if I altogether turn therefrom, I shall not have forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come. That’s pretty intense stuff.
I won’t attempt a detailed analysis of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood here. That’s not my purpose, and I don’t think I’m adequate to the task anyway. But it makes my point very well. God has given us the supernal gift of agency. To preserve that agency, we fought against Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, in the pre-mortal realms. Through the power of our Great Captain, who was called Jehovah, we were victorious and Lucifer was cast out and called Satan. To preserve that agency, God the Father, who is called Elohim, condescended to sire His Son through a mortal woman, that the Son might be called the Only Begotten in the Flesh, and might be subject to pain and death. To preserve that agency, the Son condescended to suffer all things in the flesh, so that we can repent of our sins. And through that agency, we all must choose.
If I so choose, I have the power to seek that mortal peace that others have sought. I know very plainly the dire consequences that choice would have for me. The Lord has taught me what they are. But the choice is still mine. On the other hand, I have another choice. I can choose to do those things the Lord has taught me will make my covenants effective before Him. When I do those things, the covenants are ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise. I can then receive a different kind of peace; a deeper, more lasting and eternal peace. This peace comes from understanding who I am as a son of God, and what I can become. It is a peace that comes from understanding (to a degree at least) and embracing my entire eternal identity and purpose, rather than just the most painful part of it.
And when I have a really hard time, like I have the last few days; when I feel like I simply can’t endure; when I feel like I’m going to tear myself in pieces; even then I can have the peace of knowing that Jesus Christ loves me, and that this too shall pass.