Thursday, March 08, 2012

Finding Joy

I woke up this morning and could hear the children playing downstairs.  
I could tell from the light against the white curtains that it was beautiful out.
Blue sky, sunshine, light waiting, anxiously, to spill into my room, onto my bed, across the carpet, cheerful to warm my heart and skin. 
For some reason as I lay there, I thought about the last comment I made in my post yesterday -- about parenting being a gift beyond gifts.
(Because they make me happy.)

But it's so good because it's so hard.

I sat there and thought about one of my favorite musings from 2 Nephi chapter 2.  

We frequently quote verse 25 where it says:

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."
(Doesn't he look like joy?)

I often hear people site this verse and follow it up by talking about how God wants us to be happy.

I believe that.  And I believe the way He has set before us is merciful, life-giving, soul-filling.

But every time I read that verse, and especially in the context of the chapter in which it is given, I always feel like the underlying message I'm being taught is more than that.

That my Heavenly Father wants me to experience joy.  True joy.
To me joy is so much deeper than just being happy.  Or having fun.  Or getting what I want in the moment or in a certain situation.
Joy, to me, implies depth and knowledge and understanding and comprehension.
Something that is a footing for all my purpose.
It's the why behind it all.
And to know that, to understand that, I have to learn from my own experience.

I have to be allowed to feel broken at times, to feel hurt, despair, discouragement and any other number of emotions we may not initially link with joy, and certainly not with being "happy."

But they are inseparably connected, two sides of the same coin.

I believe that God gives us these character and soul defining experiences.  Things that shape us.  Things that shape our relationships, particularly family relationships and marriages -- and moving further outward.
This is where we figure it out.  As Elder Maxwell once said, "We are each other's clinical material."

When God says He wants us to have joy, I think He's also letting us know, up front, that there will be great measures of sorrow, too.
We each have to walk our own path.  

We each have to come to know for ourselves.  That brings me joy.
He doesn't just want me to be happy.  
He wants me to understand it, to know what it is, to have tried it on for size.

One of my all-time favorite quotes?  
Comes from Elder Holland, also one of my favorites.

"On some of your more difficult or disappointing days you will ask, 'Why is it so hard . . . ?'  Answer: Because salvation is not a cheap experience. It is achieved out of the anguish of the human heart, reflecting at least in some small part Christ's suffering and sacrifice in our behalf. No one who understands the Savior's agony can think sin and error are overcome easily. But when we are making our best effort, that's when the angels come. Our success is as certain as it is difficult."

I'm grateful for the teaching, the learning and stretching, and especially for those angels.

I believe heaven is right close by -- tending, encouraging, aiding us gently in our learning, picking you and me up along the way, deepening our wells to hold the joy that's being carved out in abundance.  One day the awakening will make all these things sure.

I believe that.

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