Sunday, March 26, 2017

Finding Joy

I feel like I have had a blessed life. I have had some really interesting trips, travels, experiences - both really good and bad from a worldly point of view. I truly am grateful for all of those things because they help make me who I am. Still, most people only remember the person that they see, their first impression, and it isn't always me. I have heard a variety of things: multiple personalities, could talk to anyone, no boundaries, and smiling more. Everyone is a critic and people see those things as positive or negative depending on their various situations.

I don't think people are observant enough though. I feel like people need to listen more and watch people to begin to figure out who they really are. It takes more time than a cup of coffee or a walk in a park. Social media is simply false advertising - the highlight reel that we put up ourselves for the world to see. The short answer is people are complicated.

God has a plan for all of us to become more like Him. He isn't any Instagram celebrity. His highlight reel would be more like an inspirational YouTube playlist. The question most people have is how do we become more like Him. How do we begin to see people like He did? How do we love like Him? We learn that kind of patience and charity not by studying it out in books or being on an island. We learn it through being together - living and interacting and bumping shoulders with people that we wouldn't normally meet. We have to see every interaction or chance encounter as an opportunity.

The Spirit of God helps us learn the attributes of Christ. In Galatians we read about some of these attributes, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." I have always found it easy to connect with some of these feelings or fruits of the Spirit because they seemed natural. Others, I have struggled with for a while, like joy. I know the Plan of Salvation is also known as the Plan of Happiness and there are times I feel happy but I don't know if it is joy.

I have been studying this gift of the Spirit. The scriptures teach that you can find joy through forgiveness. It is one of the fruits of gratitude. The joy that comes from service. The joy that you can feel in the Temple or in God's presence. Joy comes from companionship or family. Joy in celebrating the blessings and success of others. There is the joy that missionaries feel when they bring people to the truth. I keep thinking about joy because I feel like it should be easier. "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."

We make choices in life and every one has an associated consequence. We may have been born into mortality and life is not easy but we were created so that we might have joy. We are here to be happy. If we choose God's path, we can find happiness in every step. Our surroundings may be clouded in temptation and trials but we can be a light unto the world and find happiness through our faith to press forward. We are not just asked to endure to the end but to endure it well. We can choose to be happy. Read your scriptures. Spend time getting to know people at church. Call a family member. Say a prayer. Ask God to bless you with joy. And when you find it, spread your joy because happiness and laughter are contagious and more enjoyable when they are shared.

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