Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Lesson: Joy in the Journey

By Devon Linn

When I think of the sisters in our ward, the thing that worries me the most is how we can help each other make it through the inevitable tough times that we all have.

Times where we are facing a tremendous trial in our lives, or when we are suffering a loss, or when we just feel completely and utterly alone. Hard times will come for all of us, and I wish more than anything else that we could all know when someone needs a hug, a smile, a kind word, or a shoulder to cry on—but we don’t always know.

Joy, happiness, good cheer
In thinking about what could be done to help someone’s dark days get brighter, I ran across a scripture with the word joy in it, so I turned to the topical guide under joy, and was filled with the spirit just reading about ways to bring cheer and happiness into our lives, and the Spirit witnessed to me that we truly are meant to have joy (2 Nephi 2:25), even during our trials.

“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer.” D&C 68:6

I did a ton of reading on joy, happiness, and cheer. And one of the things that really stood out to me in all my research was that we can simultaneously have joy DURING our trials.

We might not be skipping along humming when we are facing times that are hard, but we can feel the Lord’s influence in our lives and not let Satan overpower our thoughts and emotions.

The phrase “endure to the end” sometimes can make it sound like our journeys must be miserable if we have to endure them. So I like the phrase “JOY in the journey so much better.” It gives it such a happy turn!

One of my favorite articles I found from the Ensign was called The Quest For Joy, adapted from Barbara Workman, wife of MTC Mission Presidency member:
Joy is an emotion of the spirit. It comes through righteous living. It is not a casual or shallow feeling, ever. If we equate fun and pleasure with happiness, we may think pain must always be equated with unhappiness. But that is not true. Joy is not a stranger to pain. We may not feel deeply enough to know joy unless our hearts have been hollowed out by sorrow. A heart may not be big enough to know real joy until it has been stretched and pulled by trials and hard things. In 2 Nephi 2:23 [2 Ne. 2:23] we find this phrase: “having no joy, for they knew no misery.” Our capacity to feel joy actually increases as we righteously endure our pain.
Paul H. Dunn said,
I wonder if the constant bombardment of dilemmas and challenges … doesn’t 
frustrate, discourage, and depress us to 
the point where our minds and attitudes 
are distracted from the very principles that would allow us to rise above the negative and find the positive answers we need.
Avoiding negativity
Sister Lou Chandler and her sisters gave a great talk at our Stake Women’s Conference a few weeks ago on Avoiding Negativity, they had so many wonderful quotes and ideas, so I’ll share some of if with those of you who couldn’t make it to that activity.

One of their first points was that we are conditioned to be either positive or negative about our journey, and overcoming conditioning requires change!!!!

A key to remember: before we can even begin to have Joy, we must desire it!

As sad as it is, there are times that we don’t want to be happy. That is all right for a time, but we need to make sure we don’t make it a personality trait. Do we like to “victimize” ourselves?
We have to really want to be happy, and make it happen! DESIRE JOY!

Some things we can do 
Here are some ways we can bring more Joy into our lives and learn to “Be of Good Cheer” every step of the way?

CHANGE PERSPECTIVE and EXPECTATIONS. How do you feel when things don’t happen in the way you expected? Sometimes we aren’t even aware that we had those expectations, and we need to:
    • Acknowledge expectations.
    • Discard unworthy expectations
 (thoughts of entitlement).
    • Turn expectations into intentions.
    • Be a catalyst for realizing other’s 
worthy expectations.
    And we have to ask ourselves: How do we view things? Do we ever make mountains out of molehills because we aren’t looking at things from the right perspective.
    Each of us tend to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or, as we’re conditioned to see it.

    ~ Stephen R. Covey
    We also need to make sure that along with this, we also don’t learn to blame our emotions on other people’s behavior.
      AVOID DISCOURAGEMENT and NEGATIVITY. Negativity blinds us from solutions and keeps us from feeling the Spirit. This is Satan’s plan, and what he wants—to be miserable! To only see the glass as half empty, and to feel sorrow!

      2 Nephi 2:17–18, 27:
      17And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a cdevil, having sought that which was evil before God.

      18And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.
      Marvin J. Ashton:
      One of Satan’s most powerful tools is discouragement. Whisperings of ‘you can’t do it,’ ‘you’re no good,’ ‘it’s too late,’ ‘what’s the use?’ or ‘things are hopeless’ are tools of destruction. Satan … wants you to quit trying. It is important that discouragement is cast out of [our lives]. This may take a decided amount of work and energy, but it can be accomplished” (Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 73; or Ensign, May 1988, 63).
      CHANGE OUR COUNTENANCE. This is one from Sister Lou Chandler. I called it “Fake happiness until it becomes a habit,” but it’s basically the same thing. What we appear to feel changes how others around us feel and behave, which then will change our emotions. We need to really strive to have the Lord’s image in our countenance.

      LEARN TO LAUGH. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said this,
      Have you ever seen an angry driver who, when someone else makes a mistake, reacts as though that person has insulted his honor, his family, his dog, and his ancestors all the way back to Adam? Or have you had an encounter with an overhanging cupboard door left open at the wrong place and the wrong time which has been cursed, condemned, and avenged by a sore-headed victim? There is an antidote for times such as these: learn to laugh.
      This is one of my favorite stories. Elder Wirthlin told it about their family in his talk, Come What May and Love it:
      I remember when one of our daughters went on a blind date. She was all dressed up and waiting for her date to arrive when the doorbell rang.

      In walked a man who seemed a little old, but she tried to be polite. She introduced him to me and my wife and the other children; then she put on her coat and went out the door.

      We watched as she got into the car, but the car didn’t move. Eventually our daughter got out of the car and, red faced, ran back into the house. The man that she thought was her blind date had actually come to pick up another of our daughters who had agreed to be a babysitter for him and his wife.

      We all had a good laugh over that. In fact, we couldn’t stop laughing. Later, when our daughter’s real blind date showed up, I couldn’t come out to meet him because I was still in the kitchen laughing.

      Now, I realize that our daughter could have felt humiliated and embarrassed. But she laughed with us, and as a result, we still laugh about it today.

      The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.
      MORE HUMILITY, LESS PRIDE. When you allow pride to lead you into the negativity cycle, it is like trying to swim while wearing a diver’s weight belt: it takes all your energy just to keep your head above water.

      Let go of the pride, repent, and unstrap the weight belt of negative feelings and replace them with positive thoughts. Invite the Holy Spirit to heal and protect your [relationships.]

      Positive thoughts, aided by the Spirit, act like a life vest to help keep you afloat so you can use your energy to stay on course.

      GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST. The gift of the Holy Ghost is a great source of joy and wisdom. This “Comforter,” bestowed by the priesthood, “teaches [us] all things,” guides us into all truth, and brings “all things to [our] remembrance” (see John 14:16–27; John 16:13). “Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good,” the Lord counsels, and it “shall fill your soul with joy” (D&C 11:12–13).

      We can bring the Holy Ghost more fully into our lives by sincere prayer, feasting upon the Word, and listening to our Church leaders.

      The Prophet Joseph Smith taught us to
      turn not away the small, still voice; it will teach [us] what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruit of the kingdom … it will whisper peace and joy to [our] souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from [our] hearts, and [our] whole desire will be to do good (Millennial Star, 23 Sept. 1873, 598).
      ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. In one of his conference addresses, President Monson taught about Borghild Dahl, both before and after her sight was restored, was filled with gratitude for her blessings.

      In 1982, two years before she died, at the age of 92 her last book was published. Its title: Happy All My Life. Her attitude of thankfulness enabled her to appreciate her blessings and to live a full and rich life despite her challenges.

      We don’t have to have health related illnesses or miraculous events take place in our lives to enjoy a proper attitude.

      I would love to have the title of my life be “Happy All My Life” like Borghild Dahl. What a tribute to a remarkable woman.

      REFOCUS ON OTHERS. We can start looking outward instead of inward! This can make all the difference! Along with this comes the blessings of service, service, and more service!
      • Inspiring others is the most valuable work available to us.
      • The disciples of Christ went about doing good—That is our stewardship also.
      • Standard for Service: 
The best gifts are given anonymously and help people be more reliant ~Jon Huntsman
      • Train yourself to look outward, not inward.
      • There is a reason the church talks so much about serving others because it really helps us with our own depressions, our selfishness, our cynicism, and our negativity.
      • There are opportunities all around us.
      WILLINGNESS TO LEARN FROM TRIALS and PAIN, USE THE ATONEMENT. We can learn something worthwhile from our experience with spiritual and psychological suffering—those pains of the heart that may come from a wounded conscience, loneliness, disappointment, or a love that is lost.

      Elder Bruce C. Hafen said,
      Some will remember Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the literate wife of the famous pilot, Charles Lindbergh. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, which finally resulted in the child’s death, once captured the attention and sympathy of the American nation.

      In looking back on her life, Mrs. Lindbergh wrote: “I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” (Time, 5 Feb. 1973, p. 35; italics added.)

      We will all suffer in one way or another, but we need a certain perspective if our suffering is to teach us.
      I read another incredible article from Bruce C. Hafen entitled A Willingness to Learn from Pain, (1983) that I highly recommend to all of us. One excerpt that I enjoyed was:
      I am willing to remain vulnerable to those painful realities that inevitably come with facing the truth about myself, with learning, with growing, with loving, and with trying to be faithful. Pain of that kind helps me remember that I am in contact with life as it was meant to be experienced, thus preparing me more fully for that appointed reunion with those who sent me here—when, at last, my joy may be full.
        Again from Barbara Workman’s article: Joy is learning to “make friends with mortality.”

        That’s a phrase my sister taught me long ago to help me endure when cars break down and bills pile up. She was trying to help me make the best of a telestial world.
        • Sometimes we need to give ourselves a little time to regroup.
        • Healing takes time, be patient.
        • Let go and let God.
        • Tears will come and as long as they do not last too long, they help us to heal.
        • Our assignment is to get through the stages of grief not to invite them as permanent partners.
        • There will be times numbness, depression and anger before we get to acceptance.
        • Forgiveness.
        It is not saying it is OK, it is not OK. We can not absolve anyone of the consequences, but we can get to the point where we leave it in God’s hands.

        Forgiveness is saying I have better things to do with my life than to hang on to revenge, resentment and anger. Forgiveness is taking ourselves out of the loop.

        The ATONEMENT is the KEY. There are times when our heartache comes as a consequence of sin, either ours or someone else’s. The Atonement can heal ALL of our sorrow and pain, and can help us overcome our character weaknesses and addictions that keep us from experiencing the joy that we have.

        He is my joy, and my song
        Ultimately, joy is in Jesus Christ. Unbearable pain turned Alma to the Savior and thus to joy. Perhaps that experience prompted him to say, “May God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son” (Alma 33:23).

        The “joy of his Son” is found in every corner of [the world], indeed within every valiant [child of God].

        His promise for their times of trial is very tender: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

        Devon Linn

        Photo credit

        1 comment:

        1. Just looked this over again. What a great lesson! You are an inspiration to us, Devon.


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