The Peacegiver

This book, The Peacegiver, became popular while I was in college (2007ish) and I read it after hearing great things about it from various people around me.  I had no idea when I started the book, but it was exactly the message I needed to hear and has changed my perspective on forgiveness and the Atonement forever.   I believe that every single person will benefit by reading this book and taking it to heart.  It helped show me how to let very hurtful experiences go completely, which I honestly didn't think would be possible before this book.  As the title suggest, it brought peace into my life and a deeper understanding of the gospel and of the Savior.  

I wish I could just copy and paste the entire book here, but for starters here are a few good quotes:

  • Pg. 29: “Over time I came to realize that I needed to look more deeply.  There are ways to be right on the surface and entirely mistaken beneath.  That was what the Savior announced to the world.  ‘The law, alone, cannot save you,’ he said.  ‘I require the heart.’  He reserved his most blistering criticism for the most outwardly correct people of the day, the Pharisees, whom he accused of being ‘whited sepulchers’ – beautiful, law-abiding, ‘in the right’ on the outside, yet entirely corrupt within. (D&C 64: 22, Matt. 23: 25-28)
  • Pg. 33: “Being mistreated is the most important condition of mortality, for eternity itself depends on how we view those who mistreat us.”
  • Pg. 35: Story of Abigail, Nabal’s wife.
  • Pg. 51: “But you’re only thinking about our actions, Ricky.  What about our hearts?  Remember the Pharisees- they of the perfect actions.  Their hearts were corrupt and the savior branded them as the vilest sinners of the day, notwithstanding their outwardly righteous acts.  We sin when our hearts are sinful, no matter what we do on the surface.  The law and the prophets hang out the two great commandments of loving God and others because if our hearts fail to love, neither the law nor the prophets, nor anything else- including outward ‘righteousness’ – can save us.”
  • Pg. 65: “Abigail’s message was that forgiveness was for the one who was forgiving, not the one who was being forgiven.  David needed to forgive so that, in the words of Abigail, ‘he would continue to be found without evil, so that the Lord could make him a sure house.’  David might have felt justified in withholding this forgiveness from Nabal, however sinful such with-holding might have been, but from Abigail?  No, her offering on behalf of another obliterated every justification David might otherwise have had.  She freed him from the blind comfort of his grudges.  Through this merciful act, she created for David the most forgiveness-friendly environment that could possibly be created.  The Lord, by taking the sins of our Nabal’s upon his head, extends us the same mercy.  ‘Upon me let this iniquity be,’ he pleads.  ‘Let me deal with it if there is any dealing to be done.  But you, my dear son or dear daughter, let it go.  Let me take it, as I already have done.  Forgive.’  Although the Lord doesn’t actually ask us to forgive him, the effect of the atonement is such that it’s as if that is what he is asking.  ‘Inasmuch as ye have don’t it [or not done it] unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me.’  When we withhold forgiveness from others, we are in effect saying that the atonement alone was insufficient to pay for this sin.  We are holding out for more.  We are finding fault with the Lord’s offering.”
  • Pg. 71: “Remember that the Lord has taken the sins of others on his own head and that he has atoned for those sins and that our failure to forgive is therefore in essence a withholding from the Lord.  If we grant this forgiveness in full, he atones in full for the pain and burdens that have come at others’ hands.  He blesses us with his own love, his own appreciation, his own companionship, his own strength to endure.  And if we have these, what do we lack?”
  • Pg. 93: Description of why Jonah had reason to feel that Neneveh didn’t deserve to be saved.  Described what they did to his people.
  • Pg. 96: “What’s false is this idea that you or I deserve that love and devotion- that we are somehow entitled to it.  The truth is that there is only one thing we truly deserve, and that’s to be sent to hell.  Love and salvation are gifts.  How grateful we should be to receive them in any measure!  Hell is all we could ever hope for, Ricky, if it weren’t for the redeeming power of the Savior’s atonement.  It is only his love, offered not because we deserve it but even though we do not, that saves us.  We don’t want what we deserve, believe me.  Whether or not Nineveh is righteous is critical, of course- but only for Nineveh.  It has nothing to do with Jonah.  And if he thinks it does- if he thinks he is more deserving because he is somehow better than Nineveh, then he in that moment becomes more ‘Ninevitish’ than the people he is blaming.”  “but what if the Ninevites really are bad?  Would it be a problem for Jonah just to acknowledge the truth?”  “Because he wouldn’t be acknowledging the truth, Ricky, that’s just the point.  If he really is more righteous than they are, it will not occur to him to think that he is more righteous than they are because he will understand fully and deeply that he is entitled to nothing but hell.  At least in one sense, ‘righteousness’ is simply a humble understanding of how unrighteous one is, coupled with a deep commitment to be better.  The truth leaves no room for feelings of superiority.  Such feelings are nothing but lying vanities.  We are each working out our own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord.  And that gift will come to us only if we know in our hearts that we deserve it no more than anyone else.  The truth is, we are all, each of us, equally damned without the mercy of the Lord.  Eternal life is a gift.  I have no cause to feel entitled.  I have cause only to feel grateful.”
  • Pg. 104: Chiasm of Jonah
  • Pg. 108: King Benjamin’s people became filled with joy only after they fell to the earth in fear for their sins, viewing themselves as ‘less than the dust of the earth.’  The despair that gripped Alma the younger was replaced by joy only after he was ‘harrowed up by the memory of his many sins.’  The father of King Lamoni had it right when he prayed, ‘I will give away all my sins to know thee,’ which required him to recognize what was sinful within him.  Are there any ways that you are forgetting your own sins?  And forgetting the mercies that others have shown you?”
  • Pg. 114: “Consider, Ricky, how your children are answering the Lord’s question, ‘Should not I spare Neneveh?’  Like the Phoenician mariners, they have done nothing wrong yet suffer for the wrongs of others.  And despite the fact that they have done nothing wrong- despite the fact that they have done nothing to deserve the pain they are feeling- they love you with all their hearts.  They desperately pray for your happiness.  They beg for the Lord’s mercy on your behalf.  Their love is not contingent on yours or Carol’s.  It does not fail in the face of difficulty.  When you discover love that is not contingent you will experience a love that endureth forever and faileth not, despite hardships and difficulties.
  • Pg. 127: The Lord’s Atonement and Mercy outline
  • Pg. 136: “My peace is not determined by others- whether they be righteous or not- but by myself.  Or rather, my peace is determined by whether I come to Christ myself.  For when I come to him, he blesses me with his mercy, and basking in that mercy I find peace.  Whether others come to Christ- Nineveh and Nabal, for example- will determine their peace but not mine.”  The Nephites came most readily to Christ when things were hardest and their burdens greatest.” “But she still makes it harder, doesn’t she?” “It only seems that way because you find it easier to sin toward those who sin toward you.  But it is your sin, not theirs, that is the source of your struggle.  Carol cannot keep you from me.  Only you can.”
  • Pg. 147: “Those who have been imprisoned, those who are handicapped, those who are poor- there are many things they cannot choose to do.  Does that mean they then lack agency?  Suppose a man is tied up so tightly he can’t move a limb.  Suppose as well that his eyes are propped open and his mouth is taped shut.  All he can do is sit; he has no other options.  Would he lack agency, the way that term is used in the scriptures?  This man would have as much agency as the freest man on the street.  The reason why is that agency does not refer broadly to the ability to choose- our choices are always bounded by certain limitations, after all.  Rather, agency has to do with a particular kind of choice.  Agency, as used in the scriptures, is the capacity to choose who we will follow- the Lord of Light or the Lord of Darkness.  That is the choice that was at stake in the premortal realm.  And it is a choice we retain here, even when bound and gagged.  Part of having agency is having the agency to give it away.  We give it away by giving Satan such iron hold upon our hearts that nothing but the merits of the Son of God can break us free.”
  • Pg. 159: “And the man said: The woman thou gavest me, and commands that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.” “And the woman said: The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”  “In a way Adam and Eve didn’t think they had done wrong- or if they had, they felt like it was somehow okay or at least less bad because someone else caused or provoked them to do what they did.  Aren’t you in a relationship with Carol, exactly like Adam and Eve?  If Adam is in any way unclear about the responsibility for his transgression, is he now going to be more or less likely to feel the need to come to the Savior?  So notice, Ricky: One transgression, one choice away from the Lord, and what happens?  The transgressor becomes blinded to his responsibility for sin, and he begins to fall into captivity of the devil, which are the chains- the chains of sin- that keep him from feeling the need or desire to return to the Savior.  This is how we become subject to the will of the devil when we yield to temptation.”  “Something about sin changes us, kind of like bodily addictions do.  We view the world differently after we sin than before.  Like Adam, we become more concerned with ourselves and with how we look, and we somehow lose sight of the Lord and our need for him.  We begin to see the world in way that excuses our indiscretions.  And then, like a kind of addiction, I suppose, we find it easier to continue in sinful paths.  In fact, after Adam and Eve’s transgression, Satan was able to get them to do something that never would have entered their minds before- to hide from the Lord.”  “It’s interesting that Adam remained clear on Eve’s need for the Savior, he retained the ability to recognize others’ sins.  And yet even this ability became perverted, for he began to see others’ sins as somehow an exoneration of his own.  This kept him from fully contemplating his own sins and therefore kept him from turning fully to the savior- or at least, it would have.”
  • Pg. 162: “The difficulty of life itself is a blessing!  For it initiates a desire within us to come to the Lord- a yearning we can feel even we are blinded by sin!”  “The predicament of sin, then, Ricky, is much bigger than the fact that we commit individual sinful acts.  It is that by so doing, we corrupt our hearts and become sinful ourselves- hard-hearted, stiff-necked, dark.  We no longer see clearly but, as Paul warned, ‘through a glass, darkly,’ which is according to Satan’s plan to ‘blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.”  “Losing sight of our sinfulness, we lose sight of our need for the One who has come to heal the sinner.  Like Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon, being hard in our hearts, we ‘do not look unto the Lord as we ought.’  This is what is meant by ‘the chains’ or ‘captivity’ of sin: Precisely when we are most sinful and therefore most in need of repentance, we least feel the desire or need to repent.  This is the predicament of sin.  And this is why the Lord himself declared, “I require the hearts of the children of men,’ and why the prophets have uniformly declared that what is required is not just a cessation of sinful ‘acts,’ but a ‘mighty change in our hearts.’  It is as the prophet Alma taught: Only this mighty change of heart can loose us from the chains of hell.”
  • Pg. 170: “After the Fall, the Lord said to Adam, ‘As thou hast fallen thou may best be redeemed,’ signifying the parallel relationship of the Fall and the Atonement.  And so it is no accident that the Atonement will begin, as did the Fall, in a Garden.  And it is no accident as well that the individuals in those gardens were each sinless, or that the events in those gardens centered on their exercise of agency- for Adam, whether he would partake of the bitter fruit, and for the Savior, whether he would partake of the bitter cup.  The Savior and Adam faced a similar choice: If they did not partake, they would become lone men in paradise.  Both partook that man might be.  And by partaking of that bitterness, Adam came to know good and evil, and the Savior came to know all of the good and evil that had and would transpire in the hearts of men through all generations of time. 
  • Pg. 173: “Remember, the problem of sin is only partially that we engage in sinful acts.  The far deeper problem is that that by choosing to engage in sinful acts, our hearts become sinful.” 
  • Pg. 176: “The Savior had to take upon himself all of the chains that bind us to sin- in the words of Paul, to be ‘in all points tempted like as we are.’  He had to shoulder ‘the burden of the combined weight of the sins of the world’ – our sinful desires, our predispositions and addictions toward sin, our darkened hearts.  The scriptures declare that he suffered as well everything that might lead us to sin- our ‘pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind’ – so that ‘he might blot out our transgressions according to the power of his deliverance.’  It was as Paul said: He ‘who knew no sin’ was ‘made to be sin for us.’”  “The term Luke used to describe this assault- the Greek word agon, translated as ‘an agony’ – means, literally, ‘a contest, struggle, or fight, facing an opponent.’  And that, my son, is what Gethsemane was.”
  • Pg. 177: “This means that he is taking upon himself all the sinfulness of your heart, Ricky.  You feel fairly compelled to argue with Carol, to rage in your heart against her, to be soured by disappointment and despair.  This night in Gethsemane, the Lord is taking upon himself all of the specific chains that bind and lead you captive.  As he takes upon himself the desire to argue with Carol, and then breaks free from it, he will provide the way for you to break free as well.  Your rage, your disappointment, your despair- the Lord will overcome all tonight and forge for you a new heart- clean, pure, undefiled, free.  And he does the same for all- the addict, the abuser, the chronic complainer, those whose spirits are depressed.  His struggle tonight is for all of mankind, but only because it was for each of us, individually and specifically.”
  • Pg. 181: “When you tore your rotator cuff did you afterwards abuse your shoulder?  Did you get angry at it and treat it roughly?”  “Of course not.”  “Why not?”  “Because it was my own shoulder.  What good would it do to hurt it further?  I’d only be hurting myself.”  “We are one with our bodies, and for that reason, we don’t react to a pain in a member of the body by inflicting that member with more pain.  On the contrary, we dress it, and succor it, and nurse it back to health.  If anything, we love most those parts of us that bring us the most pain.  For they need us the most, and we, them.  It’s as if we are parts of the body of Christ.  We are one with him, not just metaphorically, but in actual fact.  The scars man has given him bind us to his flesh for the eternities.  Having become one with us, he takes our pains as his pains.  He nourishes and cherishes us.  And he does this to sanctify and cleanse us, that we should be made holy and without blemish.”
  • Pg. 185: “It was given me to know that we all shine forth a portion of the Lord’s glory, and that we shine more brightly when we are living closest to him.  Usually we do not perceive this light with our eyes, but you have felt it at times when you have been in the presence of saintly men and women- those who so fully reflect the Savior’s light that it is tangible, if not visible, to those around them.  To be in their presence is like being in the presence of a perfectly tuned note.  Their lives resonate.  They pierce, they move, they motivate, they sing.  And this because they live in tune with the Master.”

2 Response to The Peacegiver

March 8, 2015 at 11:25 PM

Thank you so much for writing this post. I was told I need to read this book, thank you so much for sharing such good quotes. I'm so glad I found your blog! :)

August 1, 2016 at 2:29 PM

Thank you for posting these quotations! I loved the book and want to share it at my family's upcoming devotional. You chose to share just the part I need. Thank you!

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