The idea for this article came to me after realizing something exceptional about my wife from a few weeks ago. We always know something is wrong when she has trouble staying awake and alert long enough to eat, drink, or take any meds. This usually happens when she is being treated for infections, has high CO2 levels or low hemoglobin—all of which have been known to cause uncontrollable drowsiness for her. She and I have both worried at times when she gets so groggy or loopy from her tiredness that the attention, memory, and language centers of her brain are impacted.
When this happens, she begins slurring her speech and has a really hard time using her tongue to form words properly. She begins a sentence somewhere around ten times and can’t finish it because she can’t remember simple words at the end—stuff like that. Shelf that information in your mind for a moment.
There are many different degrees of conversion as we are taught in Christ’s restored gospel and one of the things that relates to our level of conversion is what Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fibre and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten.” But what does this even mean? Fibers and sinews? Well, I went and looked up those words and here’s what Mirriam Webster said about sinews:
- Tendon, is a toughband of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension.
According to lumenlearning.com:
- Fibers can be one of a few types of connective tissue that contributes to energy storage, the protection of organs, and the body’s structural integrity.
To me it sounds like Joseph Fielding Smith’s reference to fibers and sinews has a parallel to gluons. Don’t know what those are? I’ll explain as briefly as I can.
Anyone remember talking about protons, neutrons, and electrons in high school? The subatomic particles that make up every atom in the physical universe? Those protons are actually composed of something smaller: quarks. And those quarks? They’re held together by something ever smaller, a type of Higgs boson particle gluons, which “glue” the quarks together to form the protons. They are basically the thing that holds the temporal universe together by keeping the quarks together that from protons, which bind to neutrons, which together provide the nucleus, which provides the opposing and attracting force that keeps the atom’s electrons circling around it. The outermost electrons in each atom (valence electrons) are the primary particles that are responsible for which atoms bond together, and that determines how elements, molecules, and such are formed and how they behave… See where this is going?
Gluons are the source of the universe’s structural integrity, similar to our fibers and sinews being the source of our body’s structural integrity. Because there is significance to our fibers and sinews (think about the temple), whatever is woven into our fibers and sinews—both spiritually and temporally—needs to be eternal, that “which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted” (2 Nephi 9:51).
Now, back to my wife when the memory and language centers of her brain are compromised. Something very revealing happened the last time she was like that. I had recently had a gospel conversation with someone who seemed to be going through a sort of awakening in understanding a particular gospel principle. However, it was clear from our conversation that there were certain core parts of that principle they didn’t understand. I’m always happy to hear about people’s progress in the gospel, but I, in my weakness, was a little disappointed in the end result of the conversation because this particular principle is very close to my heart and I felt afterward that the other person lacked the understanding to appreciate the real mechanics and gravity of the subject at hand. Granted, the particular thing the person misunderstood was something that isn’t exactly light subject matter, nor it is very well understood in general—but either way, I felt how I felt about it.
I mentioned this to my wife and relayed a few parts of the conversation that concerned me a bit. Now keep in mind that this was in her altered mental state, so it would be have been natural for her to either not get what I was saying in the first place, or at least not understand why I was concerned the way I was.
Not only did she respond with complete understanding towards me, her level of surprise at the person’s lack of understanding surpassed even mine (which, for those who know me, might come as a shock) and she was like, “Seriously? That is really simple! How did they not understand that?”
I’m not trying to defend the attitude we had there, because I realize it was a little judgmental. I should have been more patient, but what struck me most about that whole situation wasn’t even the person’s lack of understanding—it was the fact that, even in my wife’s state of cognitive impairment, she could not only still understand my concern, but was almost more zealous than I was in how clearly she understood it. She had, in her mind and heart, such a firm grasp on the subject matter, and all while still in that altered mental state.
The first thing that came to mind in the moment was that my wife’s desire to understand the gospel and, more importantly, live by it was so strong and so solid—or as Joseph Fielding Smith taught, the “truth [was] woven [so much] into the very fibre and sinews of [her] body… that it [could ]not be forgotten.” The “gluons” of her body consist, more purely than I realized until that point, of her faith in Jesus Christ, her desire to understand Him, and the scriptures and the comprehension in her mind and heart of His love, His grace, His word, His patience, mercy, virtue, etc.
As Calvin Coolidge once said: “We do not need more material development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. It is on that side of life that it is desirable to put the emphasis at the present time. If that side is strengthened, the other side will take care of itself. It is that side which is the foundation of all else. If the foundation be firm, the superstructure will stand.”
I think I’ve come a long way myself in the last ten years in how much the love of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ is woven in the my fibers and sinews, and I know I still have a long way to go. What about yours? What else can you do to have those “gluons,” the central framework of who you are, totally interwoven with the word and truth of God? My willingness to do whatever it takes to have those truths evermore firmly woven into my fibers and sinews is always growing and I hope yours does, too. What are we willing to do to have the truth constantly and permanently dictating the structural integrity of who we are and what we do?
Paul served a mission in the then Canada Toronto West Mission and recently moved to Orem, Utah, after living for ten years with his late wife, Lorraine, in Hamilton Ontario before her passing in 2019. He loves missionary work, piano, blogging (you can find his personal blog here!), deep spiritual conversations with friends, and hosting his podcast, Stepping Into Freedom. He can solve a 5x5x5 Rubik's cube, and puts a lot of time into gospel scholarship.