As I’ve spent time organizing and pondering memories to someday put together into an autobiography, JOY is the word that comes to mind as a common theme. God sent us here to earth to be tried and tested, but also to experience JOY. I love 2 Nephi 2:25 in the Book of Mormon where it says:
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have JOY.
Life is a gift from God designed to help us become more like Him. Things won’t always been easy; in fact, if they were, we would be boring, mindless idiots. Easy things don’t stretch us and help us grow. Hard things do.
I remember thinking JOY was unattainable as a young teen. I looked ahead and thought that when I turned 16 and could date, things would be better; or that once I got married, all my worries would be over and JOY would finally be mine. As a young married wife, I remember thinking JOY would be mine the day my kids graduated from diapers or the day when I wouldn’t have to babysit other people’s children. I looked to the future for fulfillment, instead of finding JOY in the journey.
I don’t know when I finally figured out that the present was a gift to grab hold of and cherish. But I eventually figured it out, and learned to find JOY in the Now—the precious present. Since I discovered that wonderful truth, every day has been a blessing. It was always that way…it just took some time for my eyes to truly see and my heart to understand.
Going back through old memories has been enlightening. Lots of experiences I despised as I went through them, I now see that I grew because of them. If I had gotten things my way (like a fast food order), my life would have turned out drastically different (kind of greasy and nasty like take-out). Thank the Lord for unanswered prayers! I wouldn’t have grown and been stretched into a better person if I had gotten things MY WAY (like McDonalds).
I hope I won’t complain and whine anymore when trials come my way—which I know they will, for my life isn’t over yet!—but I hope in the future I will get down on my knees and thank God that He loves me enough to push me to grow, and ask Him to help me through my trial so that I can become more compassionate, more empathetic, and basically just more like Him. Another scripture I love is in Moses 6:63.
And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me….
Nothing has happened to me by chance. Everything in nature that I love, each experience I have, each person I meet, has been created by my loving Heavenly Father to bear witness of Him and thereby strengthen my spiritual nature. Looking back on my life helps verify this truth. Each trial, experience, friend, and stage in life has been a building block in my eternal architectural design. I’m building my personal temple, and hopefully someday will finish—although it might be long into the afterlife since I’m a slow builder.
EnJOY each day of your life. Take time to appreciate each brick you are mortaring into your own temple. Find joy along the journey as you treasure all that is good and right in your world. Look around you with spiritual eyes…and listen with spiritual ears. When we are stretched beyond that which we are comfortable, praise God and seek His help. He is the master architect and engineer. We are nothing without Him, but capable of conquering anything with Him on our side.
If you want to try an experiment, jot down in a notebook or journal the things that bring you joy each day. It might be hard at first if you haven’t practiced, but I assure you, if you pray to look and listen harder, you will be amazed by the little things you start noticing–things as simple as the hum of a bee in the garden, or beautifully shaped clouds in the sky. I know God paints the sky spectacular colors at times just to buoy me up and rejuvenate my spirit…if I’m paying attention. That might be the key.