Tuesday, April 3, 2018

"That they might have joy."

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of "forced joy," or (much like Elder Uchtdorf's talk in fall 2017) the idea that we can be joyful in spite of circumstances.

It's something I'm really struggling with. I can pretend to be happy. It's not hard. I can spare everyone around me the struggles that I'm facing. But the more I try to pretend I'm not facing them, the more they weigh on me. The more "joyful" (read "of positive affect") I become, the more sorrowful I truly am.

When I accept that it's okay to have a hard time, that the things I'm going through really do suck, and really are hard, and really do hurt, the more I can separate them from me and find joy in spite of the hardships. But other people often don't see the joy I feel, especially since few of them are around me to see it.

Social media, for me, is a place to make social observations. Not exactly venting, but commenting, trying out ideas to see what other people think, if someone else has a different perspective. It really has very little to do with what I feel inside.

It has made me wonder, what is real joy? I'm not sure we recognize it. Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Joy is not the same thing as laughter, or a positive affect.

To me, joy comes from one source and one source only: recognizing the power, glory, and majesty of God.

When I see a sunrise, or hear my daughter's silly joke, I feel joy. When I see my daughter fight through bad circumstances, I feel joy. I feel joy when I pray and feel the Spirit. I feel joy when I see someone else find joy. I find joy when I'm on my knees, wrist deep in dirt, and see those tiny little sprouts poking up their heads.

We've got to stop using "joy" as a stick to beat ourselves with. Joy is a spiritual gift, and not all people are given it at all times. It's okay to be mad sometimes, if there's something that deserves anger. It's okay to be sad, when God Himself is a "man of sorrows." It's possible to be both of those things, and still carry joy.

Joy in Christ's atonement.

Joy in His ongoing love.

Joy in the fact that we have a God we can trust.

Joy in knowing that, if it were not for our sorrows, we would never have known real joy.

"Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy."
2 Nephi, 2

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