Freedom From Earth Stains

Today Americans celebrate the 232nd birthday of our nation’s Declaration of Independence. The flags are flying, and there will be many parades with beautiful floats and energetic marching bands. Most workers are enjoying this day as a paid holiday, me included. Our parks are filled with families enjoying time together, eating picnics and anticipating an exciting fireworks display later this evening. This is a day to have fun, but also a day to reflect on our blessings, and to remember those who have paid the ultimate price defending our country’s freedom.

As I sat down last night expecting to write a traditional patriotic post in celebration of our holiday, I paused to first read the insightful comment that “Sweet Is The Peace” left for me on my last post. I then followed his link to check out his site intending to give him a quick “thank you”. What ensued was an unexpected spiritual experience, as I read the life story of an active Mormon struggling with Gender Identity Disorder. This man’s very personal and honest story touched my heart and it allowed me to reflect on my own journey. My life experience has given me unique, heart-wrenching struggles both endured personally, and as a loved one to those in my closest circle. My specific trials have gone by different names than this brother’s, but the severity and process parallels the things that Sweet has so openly shared.

As I reflect upon Sweet’s agonizing struggle, I rejoice in his victories, and am inspired by his commitment to endure and overcome. He has created, in a very real sense, his own declaration of independence. He has pledged his life to defend his freedom from guilt, shame, sin and sorrow. Should we not all make this important personal pledge? I can think of nothing that would honor this historic day better, and be of more importance.

When Phillip Paul Bliss penned the poem for his hymn “More Holiness Give Me”, he included this inspired plea:

“More Purity Give Me
More Strength To O’ercome
More Freedom From Earth Stains
More Longing For Home
More Fit for the Kingdom
More Used Would I be
More Blessed and Holy
More Savior, Like Thee”

What a marvelous and poetic observation are those words “Earth Stains” – and the subsequent desire to be Free of them! Anyone who has had to do laundry knows about stains. Just one small spot of tomato can ruin a perfectly good piece of clothing, and it happens invariably on the first wearing. I have never been able to find a sufficient cure for grapejuice or mustard. I have also had the unpleasant experience of turning an entire load of white to pink when one very tiny red sock infiltrated. However, as discouraging as these stains and subsequent loss can be, the stains which saturate our souls are much more serious, lasting and damaging. The loss can be tragic and affect generations. These stains are what cause the world its greatest sorrows, and create the heaviest burdens for all of us. They are irreparable by any human means. And yet, there is hope. There is One who made it possible for our souls to be washed clean and be new again, no matter how filthy we may have become. He has taught that he will help make our burdens feel lighter. He will walk beside us, and never forsake us. He has also provided a church organization where each member makes a sacred promise at baptism to “bear one another’s burdens”. He will never leave us comfortless! He is Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior and Redeemer. An apostle of Jesus Christ has taught:

though we live in a failing world, we have not been sent here to fail.” – Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Our brother at “Sweet is the Peace” and his wife are quiet heroes. Their endurance will become a lasting legacy they will give their posterity. This is a gift gained by all those who “fight the good fight” during this mortal experience. Whether mortal or immortal, physical or spiritual, our Freedom is a priceless gift worth enduring all hardships and making every sacrifice to claim and maintain. It may very well require that we pass through a refiner’s fire – but we may be strengthened in knowing that we are becoming new and clean and holy.

2 thoughts on “Freedom From Earth Stains

  1. Wow, I don’t even know what to say. If I have uplifted somebody, I am glad that I have been writing. I think this is a good time to say that I too have enjoyed your blog, and especially your powerful witness of the Savior. I also would like to say that music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been a lifeline for me for a very long time. For example, it took me hearing “Bubbly” about twice to be so sick of it I never want to hear it again in my life. In contrast, there are Choir pieces I have listened to literally hundreds of times that I never tire of. I sincerely appreciate the tremendous sacrifice of time and effort you and your fellow choir members make to share your talents with all of us. I wish I could give something back to you all in recompense for the rich blessing you are in my life. I hope my gratitude (and my purchases of your albums) is worth something.

    There is one thing you said that I would like to add my fervent affirmation of. Your pareticular trial may not be GID. Mine is not same-sex attraction, or abuse as a child, or alcoholism. But the principle is exactly the same. We must be willing to place everything on the altar of sacrifice, and then we must commit ourselves wholly to the Savior. I know that if we do that, He can and will carry our burdens. I know because He has done it for me. Although my feelings about gender have not changed, I no longer feel that they are a burden. I rejoice in who I am, because the Lord has shown to me how I fit into His plan.

    The Savior taught a mob of enraged Jews that “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”. (It’s in John 8; I don’t have my scrip tures handy). The beauty of that teaching, to me, is found in D&C 93, where we learn that Jesus Christ is the Spirit of Truth. So to know the Truth (Jesus Christ) is to be free. I have seen this as I have come to know the Savior and He has freed me from the burdens of my heart aches and sorrows. I no longer ask Him to take the feelings away. I know now that they are an integral and important part of my own eternal identity and purpose. To destroy them would to be to kill a part of me. But the things the Savior has taught me through the Spirit bring my feelings into their proper focus and move me to do His will. That is how I feel free—indeed, I feel I am much more free, in very deeply significant ways, than those who have told me that the only source of happiness for me is to forsake the teachings of the Lord’s chosen prophets or modify them to suit my own inclinations.

    Again, thank you for your kind words. And thank you for sharing your testimony here. And thank you a thousand times over for sharing your testimony through music. May the Lord bless you and your family abundantly for your willingness to share that supernal gift of music.

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