JOY! As I’ve spent time organizing and pondering my memories to someday put together in an autobiography, JOY is the word that comes to my mind over and over as a common theme. God didn’t mean for this earth life to be easy, and much of the time, it hasn’t been. He sent us 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.”
That is my motto! Life is a gift from God designed to help us become more like Him. Things won’t always be easy; in fact, if they were, we would be boring, mindless idiots. Easy things don’t help us stretch and grow. Hard things do.
I remember quite vividly thinking JOY was unattainable as a young teen. I always 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 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. For a while, I looked to the future for JOY, instead of finding JOY in the journey.
I don’t know when I finally figured out that the present was a gift (get it?) to grab hold of and cherish. All I know is that I eventually figured it out, and learned to find JOY in the Now—the precious present. Since that magical day, every day of my life 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 how they pushed me to grow. I guess I’m a slow learner, but finally I’m starting to get it! 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 fast food). Thank you Lord for unanswered prayers! I would not have grown and been stretched to improve if I had gotten things MY WAY (like McDonalds).
I hope that 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 that 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 trials to become more compassionate, more empathetic, and basically just more like Him.
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 self. Looking back over my life helps verify this. Each trial, experience, friend, and stage in my life has been a building block in my eternal architectural design. I am 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! When you are stretched beyond that which is comfortable, praise God and seek His help. He is the master architect and engineer. We are nothing without Him—but able to conquer anything with Him. He wants us to have JOY—and stretches us so that we can have room for even more in our life. That’s what I believe.