(Disclaimer, this is very long and is some teachings from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which I belong. And is mostly the comfort and testimony I’ve received this week while seeking comfort, peace and guidance during a time while I’ve felt sad and missing my Gabie Baby.)
Starting this last Saturday I’ve been feeling very sad and missing Gabriel quite a lot. I’ve cried myself to sleep several nights and have just struggled to feel happy and content. On Sunday night I had the distinct feeling I should read a book that my mom gave me for Christmas last year, What’s On The Other Side? by Brent L. Top. I asked for the book last Christmas and was excited to receive it but when I started reading it I couldn’t get into it so I set it aside for another time. Well it’s been almost a year but when I picked it up this time after prayerfully asking my Father in Heaven for comfort and guidance for two separate things bothering me I immediately felt drawn to read the whole book and focus on the things that were bothering me. Of course once I started reading there were things that brought me comfort that I had not expected.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted something so close to my heart and more than just our families current activities, but for my own record I’d like to document the things that stood out to me and that I felt I needed right now. I did highlight several things in the book but I still feel drawn to blog about my current feelings. Maybe someone else needs this same comfort or understanding.
Upon reading the Preface a Scripture was quoted that stood out to me and gave me the impression that the things that were true and that I needed would be revealed to me by the spirit. Brother Top said “When the Prophet Joseph Smith was engaged in the work of translating the Bible, he asked the Lord whether he should translate the Apocrypha.” This is the Lords response and it gives important guidelines as to how to view sources that are outside the official doctrines of the Church. “We can benefit from such apocryphal sources if we recognize that “there are many things contained therein that are true” and “there are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men”(D&C 91 1-2). As a result, “whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; and whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom; and whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited” (D&C 91 4-6)
As I continued to read I found several things that I had already known stood out to me maybe I needed to be reminded of them. In Chapter 3 titled The Spirit World and subtitled Where is the Spirit World? I was reminded that The Spirit World is here on a different plane of existence or in a different dimension. President Joseph F. Smith was quoted saying: “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them….And therefore, I claim that we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever.” I think I needed to be reminded that Gabriel is here probably more often than I think and that all I need do when I miss him is speak to him and I’m sure he will hear me. And although it is tough to not see or hear him if I strive to be in tune to the spirit there will be special moments when I know his spirit is close by.
The next subtitle in Chapter 3 is What Is the Spirit World Like? There are 4 paragraphs that I wish to quote. I never thought I was so curious to what the Spirit World was like but in reading these quotes I felt a great comfort in knowing what the place my son resides in is like. As a mother who still feels like I’m missing out on nurturing him and protecting him, these quotes were comforting to me because they gave me a better understanding of why that is currently not a job I need to worry about as Gabe’s mother.
“While the scriptures and prophets teach us that the spirit world will appear natural to us and be much like this world, I think we can assume that it will be what I call “natural-plus.” or as Joseph Smith taught, “coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy” (D&C 130:2). In some ways we might compare it to the difference between the quality of early over-the-air analog television broadcasts and today’s high-definition digital broadcasts.” I Love how Brother Top compares the two places to something familiar to me and having a husband who is all about high–definition I understand the great difference.
This quote is from Jedediah M. Grant, counselor to Brigham Young and Father to President Heber J. Grant. He saw the spirit world twice before his death. “In regards to gardens, says brother Grant, ‘I have seen good gardens on this earth, but I never saw any to compare with those that were there. I saw flowers of numerous kinds, growing upon one stalk.’ We have many kinds of flowers on the earth, and I suppose those very articles came from heaven or they would not be here….
”After speaking to the gardens and the beauty of every thing there, brother Grant said that he felt extremely sorrowful at having to leave so beautiful a place and come back to earth, for he looked upon his body with loathing, but was obliged to enter it again.”
“No wonder Brigham Young said that it took far greater faith than he had ever before exercised for him to desire to continue to live in mortality.”
Then from the book Heaven and Hell written by Emanuel Swedenborg. “Swedenborg goes on to describe it this way: “Their dwellings are just like the dwellings on earth which w call homes, except that they are more beautiful. They have rooms, suites, and bedrooms, al in abundance. They have courtyards, and [are] surrounded by gardens, flowerbeds, and lawns….”
Those last 3 quotes comforted me to know that where Gabriel is as is so safe so beautiful and so peaceful I need not worry about him. Of course I already knew that but it’s always wonderful to have the spirit tell you things again to strengthen that testimony. The last quote cause me some extra grief at first. When I imagined there being “homes” there for the spirits to live in the first thing I thought was that my boy was all alone in his home because his family isn’t there with him. I have always struggled to picture Gabe as a full grown adult spirit even though I know that is how he is. So when thinking of my 17 month old baby all alone in a home it brought a lot of tears. But then as I calmed myself down and thought more about it I knew without a doubt that whether he be 17 months or a young man he is surrounded by family. David and I both have Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins who I know are with Gabriel daily and all waiting for us to join them when it’s the right time.
And as I read on there was a section talking about how we are spirits before we are born and gain our body and when we die we are again those same spirits. President Joseph F. Smith declared: “The spirits of our children are immortal before they come to us, and their spirits, after bodily death, are like they were before they came. They are as they would have appeared in they had lived in the flesh, to grow to maturity, or to develop their physical bodies to the full stature of their spirits. if you see one of your children that has passed away it may appear to you in the form in which you would recognize it, the for of childhood; but if it came to you as a messenger bearing some important truth, it would come perhaps as the spirit of Bishop Edward Hunter’s son (who died when a little child) came to him, in the stature of a full-grown manhood, and revealed himself to his father, and said: ‘I am your son.’
“Bishop Hunter did not understand it. He went to my father and said: ‘Hyrum, what does that mean? I buried my son when he was only a little boy, but he has come to me as a full-grown man – a noble, glorious, young man, and declared himself my son. What does it mean?
“Father (Hyrum Smith, the Patriarch) told him that the Spirit of Jesus Christ was full-grown before he was born into the world; and so our children were full-grown and possessed their full stature in the spirit, before they entered mortality,… and as they will also appear after the resurrection, when they shall have completed their mission.” I already knew all that I have quoted in my mind but as I read this story I felt a new feeling of knowing it in my heart. I think I will still picture Gabriel at 17 months because that’s all I can see but I know he is a glorious grown young man in the spirit world doing great work.
The book talks about how very busy the spirits are on the other side preparing for the return of the Savior to the earth and in one section it compares the losing a child to sending a missionary out for a 2 year mission. Although I don’t get calls on Mother’s Day and Christmas and I don’t receive letters I do know Gabriel is busy in this great work. Brother Top says “Tears of sadness are replaced by tears of joy when we understand how much our missionary is loved by those he serves. There is incredible fulfillment in learning how that service has blessed others, transformed lives, and led to temple ordinances that open the door for a fullness of joy in eternity. The temporary separation accompanied by deep missing of our loved one is all worth it.” I can’t say I feel that way all the time but I can try to imagine when I will be reunited with my sweet son how I will be so happy to have gone just this short time without him to learn of all the good he has done. I am a very proud mother and I know when we are reunited it will be a wonderful reunion filled with joy and happiness and when looking back it will seem like this time without him was very short. Some days it’s so hard to look at the big picture and be reminded that this is not forever and one day it will look like it was just a blink of an eye. But as I read the spirit reminded me that even though I miss him and my heart and arms ache for him this time will pass and I will be given all those things I long for. “Joseph Smith declared that the mother who laid down her little child, being deprived of the privilege, the joy, and the satisfaction of bringing it up to manhood or womanhood is this world, would, after the resurrection, have all the joy, satisfaction and pleasure, and even more than it would have been possible to have had in mortality, in seeing her child grow to the full measure of the stature of its spirit.” This is the day I look forward to!`
There are other things I have highlighted and that brought me peace and comfort but I think they are for another day and time in my life so I will leave with this quote that President Gordon B. Hinckley poetically, yet profoundly, declared:
O God, touch Thou my aching heart,
And calm my troubled, haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.
There is no death, but only change
With recompense for victory won:
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One.