Sunday, January 29, 2012

What I Learned in Church Today: The Pursuit of Joy

In the past few months I have been compelled to seriously consider my mortality. I have spent many days searching for the right understanding or motivation to want to fight a difficult battle. I read the stories of so many survivors who faced unimaginable challenges and found a way to do the impossible. In each situation the hero would confess that thoughts and desires of being with their spouse and/or children was the ONLY thing that got them through.

As an eternal bachelorette, and a non-breeder, those stories weren't entirely helpful. In fact, I might have even found them discouraging at times. I really wanted someone with my social circumstances to have fought the fight and be able to share something that would motivate me.

Today I listened to a speaker whose words have helped me to begin looking at my situation differently. The speaker started by sharing 2 Nephi 2:25,
"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."
And then the speaker put emphasis on a word in that verse that I have always skimmed over..."might". I am here, and sacrifices have been made, so that I "might" feel joy. It is the freedom to pursue happiness that is a basic human right, but having joy isn't a guarantee...I am only promised that it "might" happen. I don't think this means that it is a crapshoot, who does or does not get to have joy, I think it implies that there is work to be done if I want to experience the joy. And I'm beginning to understand that the joy might be delayed if it's in my best interest.

And that is the place where I have found myself paralyzed. I've wanted to be happy. I've recognized my responsibility to make that happen, but I was still disappointed that joy wasn't just happening to me. I had felt that I should have qualified for immediate and immeasurable piles of joy. I had lost focus and understanding.

The speaker then went on to share some of the things he had learned from a co-worker who had become a quadraplegic, but still managed to live his life with an abundance of joy:

- Focus on what I can do and minimize what I cannot do
- Focus on what the Lord has blessed me with, and not what He has not given me or on what has been taken away

- Focus on what the future has in store for me, not on what it does not

- Don't waste time or effort worrying about things I cannot control

- Live up to the fullest extent of my gifts and talents. Improve upon and add to those talents

- Don't look back

The reality is that I've been so devastated about the loss of my imaginary future that I have failed to see the hope and goodness that still remained in my life. I get it tonight in the quiet of my room, but I will forget, and this will remain a process for me. Especially since I know that I will continue to be influenced by what the doctors have to say about my prognosis. But at least for now, I have some guidance for identifying my purpose and my reason to fight...regardless of the specifics of my challenges.

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