At one point in my life ‘joy’ sprung from my circumstances. I couldn’t be happy unless I had the right house, the perfect body, the right job, or the ideal calling. I kept looking beyond the mark for happiness…when all along I could have found joy in the journey.
We lived in a small 800 square foot home with only two bedrooms and one bathroom. It was very cozy. The cute white home set back from off the road…if driving by, you’d often miss it. A large walnut tree shaded the yard and a swing hung from its branches. If you stood on our back porch you could see all of North Ogden and into Farr West. I remember many evenings looking out the window and watching the sun slowly dip behind the horizon.
Our girls loved playing with their cousins and the neighborhood boys out back on their tramp. They rode bikes and scooters on the driveway and played with sidewalk chalk. They would stay out till the sun went down on longs summer nights. Evee chased after kitties and fed Dozer, the neighbor’s dog, walnuts from our tree.
The girls loved sharing a room and jumping on each other’s beds. At night I’d lie with Evee in her toddler bed and the three of us (Kaya, Evee, and I) would fall asleep listening to primary music while staring up at the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling.
Ryan would give the girls bubble baths while I got ready for church…we’d all be crammed in our tiny bathroom. I’d listen to their sweet giggles and splashes…and watch through the mirror as Ry turned our little girls into Santa look-a-likes… with white bubble beards and hair.
At the time I only wanted a bigger house and a better job…I didn’t realize just how blessed I truly was. Now…as I think back upon those precious moments and memories…I’d be willing to give up everything I have to go back in time…so I could have my husband and daughter back. Yet, I know there is a plan and I know I’m meant to be here.
Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said this,
“My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation…and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives.”
All too often I have let my circumstance or situation determine my happiness. Yet, just as Elder Nelson stated…as I have focused on God’s plan of Salvation and on His son Jesus Christ… I am able to feel joy regardless of what is happening or what has happened.
I’ve often reflected back on the events that took place during the accident and even though I experienced heartbreaking spiritual and physical pain…I also was blessed to feel joy.
After being rear-ended on the freeway…I remember experiencing the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life…to the point I couldn’t breath. I eventually went unconscious…but instantly went from feeling incredible pain to a feeling of pure joy. I no longer felt broken, but it was as if I was having a very pleasant dream. I remember seeing white surround me and feeling love beyond description. It only lasted a brief moment…because soon I heard Kaya calling for me…I came back to the awful reality of what had just happened. My pain returned and my life has never been the same since.
In the moments following this experience I felt peace, I felt comfort…even though Kaya was in very critical condition and I had just lost two members of my family…I knew that everything would eventually be ok. I knew Kaya would be ok. I felt heaven near…and I felt joy.
It has been over a year since the accident and as I think back upon the last year…I’m convinced that the Lord allowed me to experience such divinity so that I could remember His plan for me….for all of us. There is life after death! Through the plan of happiness we can have joy.
Elder Nelson goes on to say,
“Just as the Savior offers peace that “passeth all understanding,” He also offers an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension. For example, it doesn’t seem possible to feel joy when your child suffers with an incurable illness or when you lose your job or when your spouse betrays you. Yet that is precisely the joy the Savior offers. His joy is constant, assuring us that our “afflictions shall be but a small moment” and be consecrated to our gain.”
It is possible to have joy amid sorrow and pain. I’ve experienced it. I’m experiencing it.
True joy comes from living like the Savior. True joy comes from loving and serving others. True joy isn’t experienced by circumstance…true joy comes through having faith in a better way…God’s way…His plan.
“Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives. As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!
And what was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families.
If we focus on the joy that will come to us, or to those we love, we can endure what presently seems overwhelming, painful, scary, unfair, or simply impossible.”
Men are that they might have joy. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to feel joy during this mortal experience…even amid the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our experiences will shape us into what God knows we can become…so I hope to look forward with faith…and find joy in the journey.