Tuesday, December 1

The Gospel of Peace

I’ve had a heavy heart since I heard Friday’s news of the passing of John Jones, who was trapped in the Nutty Putty caves last week. I have felt a deep sadness since reading about it on Friday morning, and I’ve struggled to understand my own emotions.

We weren't terribly close to the Jones, who were in our ward at BYU for a year, and we haven’t kept in touch. But the Jones are the kind of people whose influence reaches far and doesn’t fade. Emily in particular is someone who so happily radiates the light of Christ that she is hard to forget. Her simple example affected me in specific and memorable ways that it would be impossible for her to know about.

My heart has ached all weekend at the weighty implications John’s passing has for the little family he left behind. I have struggled to know what to pray for, and I’ve wished that somehow I could shoulder some of the grief that his loved ones, especially Emily, must feel. It’s been hard to understand the depth of my own reaction considering the distance of both time and space between our family and theirs. But I was reminded on Sunday that I promised a long time ago to “mourn with those that mourn,” and though my ability to comfort those that stand in need of comfort in this situation is limited at best, I’ve come to understand that somehow my little portion of grief ascends upward in some small but meaningful way.

Emily’s post the day after her husband’s death, as well as her comments at Saturday’s memorial service (thanks again for recapping that, Melissa), spoke of peace. I spent a lot of time thinking about that yesterday.

I have thought before about how the Gospel doesn’t promise a pain-free life. Living righteously doesn’t ensure ease or comfort or even constant happiness. But it does promise peace. “My peace I give unto you…” the Savior said. And since peace is communicated through the Spirit, we have to be worthy of it. Hence one of the many incentives for living righteously.

I was also reminded of a personal scriptural insight I had a few months ago. The short version of the story is that I had received a substantial bill from someone who had dealt with me dishonestly and he wasn’t going to fix it. I was pretty upset. That day Mark and I were reading in Alma 15, where Zeezrom is sick with a scorching fever caused by his own wickedness. As I read the description of his spiritual anguish in verse 3, I was struck with the thought, “Dani, you think you’ve got problems? Zeezrom’s got problems. And his are the kind of problems you never have to have.”

I was impressed that the anguish of being separated from the Spirit due to our own wickedness is worse than any trial we could possibly have to pass through in this life. And based solely on my own choices, I can have the Spirit – and the peace that accompanies it – as often as I am willing to live worthy of it.

As I have contemplated this peace, I was reminded of the Sunday School lesson I taught the teenagers last week on the armor of God. One of the pieces of armor is having our “feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” That wordy piece of armor has never really made sense to me. But yesterday as I contemplated peace, I had a new understanding of having our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. Kind of in the vein of “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” -- that living constantly worthy of the peace of the Gospel prepares us for whatever vicissitudes we may be called to walk through. That we can confidently walk through life in our “Peace Boots” because we know that no matter what, our own choices and behavior entitle us to the constant -- constant -- peace of the Gospel.

So although I haven’t had contact with Emily in years and I don’t know that she’ll ever read this, I want to thank her for her example of being prepared with the Gospel of Peace to weather the hardships of life. She has inspired me before and continues to do so. I want to be a better person because of my minuscule glimpse into how she has dealt with this tragedy. I know that pain heals only with time and that the loss will never completely disappear, but I also know that the Gospel of Peace makes our worldly challenges bearable. And I know that Emily knows that too, because of the way she has lived her life. I’ll continue to pray that the peace she’s felt will stay with her and the rest of John’s family throughout this intensely difficult time.

If you’d like to make a contribution to Emily and her children (14 months old and one on the way), you can do so here or to the John & Emily Jones Memorial Fund (Utah Community Credit Union and Wells Fargo) or the Emily Jones Children Donations (Zions National Bank).


Tiffany said...

Beautifully written... I feel like saying "amen." Thanks for your comments.

heather said...

Dani you described so many emotions of my heart. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It makes me wish that we were all back in Provo still in the ward together and could rally around her physically as well as emotionally and spiritually. But, as you said, we need to continue our preparation of the gospel of peace, and that continues to take us all over and in separate ways. I'm grateful that we can still connect and share our lives with one another. Thank you.

Jillian said...

Thank you for that Dani. We had a close friend of ours get hit by a car while walking in a crosswalk the other day. The driver didn't scrape off their window so he didn't see the three people crossing the road as he turned left. Sometimes it's hard to swallow things like this, but it makes me so grateful for the gospel of Christ and want to continue to understand it all the more.