“She will find what is lost” by Brian Kershisnik
It was just another in a long line of dark days where the balance sheet of lack vs. abundance weighed heavily in the red. Desperate calls to yet another therapist/chiropractor/psychiatrist/ left me with empty hands, hollow heart and panicked mind. Every escape had been exhausted. Every source of momentary pleasure brought no relief, leaving me desperate in the letdown of unmet anticipation.
There was always the voice that whispered potential and comfort if i could “just hold on” a little longer but longer than a moment was just too long and so I sat on the edge of my bathtub calculating the number of oxycodone, ibuprofen, Unisom and Xanax we had in the almost-empty bottles in the narrow cabinet that we had bought on clearance at Target. It wasn’t perfect for the space, but neither was the space and no matter how much I tried, the color of the tile in this bathroom would never suit me. I contemplated the work we wanted to do to the house to make it “just right” and how it never would be because I never would be.
My babies were in the basement, content to watch a show, and I could send a quick text to husband that would bring him home in time to save them from seeing me, but not in time to get me back. I knew they would suffer but not anywhere near as much as they would with me as their mother/companion for the rest of their lives because I was broken and toxic and all around me suffered for it.
Or so I thought.
So I contemplated the pills.
Just like so many have done before me. The jeering mocking voices of Satan’s Angels were reaching a fevered pitch, daring me, coaxing me to move. But then the noise became muffled as what I can only describe as angelic sentinels with swords drawn surrounded me as I sat on the edge of that tub in the blue monogrammed bathrobe I had bought for the birth of my second son. There is a picture of a woman who is kneeling, a flood of angels coursing toward her and all I could see was the faces of millennia of ancestors crowding around me in that small space, all with faces reflecting my unrealized story- a story that didn’t continue into eternity just yet. I knew some of them- the usual arms of my Grandpa and Great-grandmother, dear ones who had seen me through many previous dark days- but most were unknown but who clearly loved and desired my life to continue.
In the presence of celestial beings, pills and sadness and toxicity don’t exist- only truth. Which is light. Which is the real reality that I lost touch of when I entered this mortal reality. And as that truth whited out the falsehoods of my imagined despair, I clung to those faces and their projected messages of potential.
The faces departed as my feet met foundation but the swords and those wielding them remained. Later, when husband, in response to a worried message from his sister (thank you, my friend for listening) rushed into the house, said that the celestial presence was still in force and their calm was palpable. I imagined the forces parting enough to let him through.
So I didn’t die that day.
And so I wonder what angelic sentinels stand guard around those who do.
What is different when it actually happens? Are the ancestors less insistent? Are the jeering voices more powerful? Is the soul more empty?
Which brings me to General Conference and Elder Perry and counterfeit love.
The internets were awash with heartbreaking stories of young people who had lost all hope after hetero-marriage was encouraged at General Conference last month. Which completely breaks my heart. Wide open. I am sad that truth is so intensely difficult to comprehend. Because it is truth, you know. The balancing act between teaching the more difficult truths and empathizing with those who just. cannot. see it is heartbreaking. But Christ died for all of us. All of us. So we can try and try again no matter what side of the coin we can see.
And so I imagine those desperate and pained spirits arriving at their new home and beginning to see the truth- with the arms of the Lord encompassing them. When all of their generations come to greet and to comfort and pour all of their love into them. Do they get a “rest”? Do they understand? Do they then turn their spirit-bodies to attend to their loved ones- those they left behind- and encourage truth seeking?
I know that they go on. I know that they attend us. They are not without hope. In fact, they bring us hope.
I have a friend from high school who couldn’t bear the burden of living any longer and moved on. He and I weren’t close, but we were friendly, and when I heard that this faithful young man was gay, my heart broke a little because I knew a little of the pain he was enduring. His death was hard for me. And I wonder so many things. But I have felt his presence encouraging me to persevere through the darkness when I have wanted to follow him, so I know that he knows that it is better to be here.
I do know I have purpose. It may not be great in the sense that I will make a big splash in the world, but it is great in the sense that the blessings that our prophets and apostles speak of are bigger and more magnificent than we can comprehend. Blessings that I need to receive. Learning that I need to do. A person that I need to become. And it begins with baptism, the receiving of the Holy Ghost, the remission of sins through repentance and sacrament, continued through the temple ordinances and the sealing ceremony. Sealed to a man. A man whose priesthood I share.
Which brings us to Elder Perry and his “counterfeit love” statement.
It’s not so much that all non-celestially-married love is counterfeit, because there is mind-blowingly amazing love out there which is beautiful and full and right in its realm. But anything less than those blessings initiated with the ordinances of the priesthood just aren’t going to take you the full distance. But who’s to say that every single person in existence wants a part of the action that is happening at that full distance. Perhaps what they have here is what they will want when they leave.
I don’t know. I don’t know why it makes so much sense to me but really just pisses other people off.
We have to offer this higher alternative to people because we want them to be there with us. But how do we offer them and teach them without making them feel hopeless because they flat out don’t love in the way they have to in order to get this something that everyone is harping about?
So we just love. We teach, and we love. And we learn, and we love. And we listen, and we love. And we learn some more. And we just live the best way we know how without thinking we know more, because we may know truth, but we don’t know everything.
Love, love, love. Without any thought of changing minds or convincing others- just a focus on extending the arms of Christ’s mercy and tenderness to all.
Lose yourself for Christ’s sake and you will find yourself.
Trade your hands and will for His and you will discover your true-gorgeous-divine-self.
Extend that mercy to your own failings.
Look to the true purpose of our existence: to become.
Which is why I didn’t die.
Because I’m so far from becoming I couldn’t even approach the possibility of rest.
So I mourn for the souls who can’t take any more. Because I get it. I mourn for the souls who mourn for them. Because I get it. I mourn for the souls that turn to hate and blame. Because I get it. I want to gather every one of them and show them the faces and sentinels that surround them, pleading for them to remember the real reality that exists just outside the door of hatred and uncertainty- of disappointment and sadness- of utter loss of hope.
Certainty is there.
Blessings of greatness- not only in the eternities, but on this very planet- are there.
The huge, all-encompassing arms of our incomprehensible Lord and Savior are there. Always.
And I’m so glad I stuck around to figure that out.