You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
It's lonely at the top. But it's comforting to look down upon everyone at the bottom.
If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, you are not alone. And yet you are alone, so very alone.
I can understand why you feel oppressed by loneliness; I would be happy if I could share with you my joy in this mood, but it is something which no one can give to another.
God bless you to walk fearlessly, even though you walk in loneliness, and to know in your hearts that peace which comes of squaring one’s life with principle, that “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7)
I would like to conclude by saying to you here today, you young men and women who are in this great congregation, this is your lot. Oh, you are all together here now. You are all of one kind; you are all of one mind. But you are training to go out into the world where you are not going to have about you ten thousand, twenty thousand, twenty-five thousand others like you. You will feel the loneliness of your faith.
It is not easy, for instance, to be virtuous when all about you there are those who scoff at virtue.
It is not easy to be honest when all about you there are those who are interested only in making “a fast buck.”
It is not always easy to be temperate when all about you there are those who scoff at sobriety.
It is not easy to be industrious when all about you there are those who do not believe in the value of work.
It is not easy to be a man of integrity when all about you there are those who will forsake principle for expediency.
The Peace of the Spirit
I would like to say to you here today, my brethren and sisters, there is loneliness—but a man of your kind has to live with his conscience. A man has to live with his principles. A man has to live with his convictions. A man has to live with his testimony. Unless he does so, he is miserable—dreadfully miserable. And while there may be thorns, while there may be disappointment, while there may be trouble and travail, heartache and heartbreak, and desperate loneliness, there will be peace and comfort and strength.
A Promise and a Blessing
I like these great words of the Lord given to those who would go out and teach this gospel:
I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. [D&C 84:88]
Joseph Smith likewise was a figure of loneliness. I have a great love for the boy who came out of the woods, who after that experience could never be the same again, who was berated and persecuted and looked down upon. Can you sense the pathos in these words of the boy prophet?
For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation. [JS—H 1:25]
There are few more sorrowful pictures—not in our history anyway—than of the Prophet being rowed across the Mississippi River by Stephen Markham, knowing that his enemies were after his life, and then there came some of his own who accused him of running away. Hear his response: “If my life is of no value to my friends it is of none to myself” (HC 6:549, 23 June 1844).
It was ever thus. The price of leadership is loneliness. The price of adherence to conscience is loneliness. The price of adherence to principle is loneliness. I think it is inescapable. The Savior of the world was a Man who walked in loneliness. I do not know of any statement more underlined with the pathos of loneliness than His statement: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
There is no lonelier picture in history than of the Savior upon the cross, alone, the Redeemer of mankind, the Savior of the world, bringing to pass the Atonement, the Son of God suffering for the sins of mankind. As I think of that, I reflect on a statement made by Channing Pollock:
Judas with his thirty pieces of silver was a failure. Christ on the cross was the greatest figure of time and eternity.
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