Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Joy when Life Stinks

What if you're doing the things you're supposed to be doing, prayers, scriptures, tithing, church, callings, parenting, dishes, laundry, carpool, cooking, fun times as a family, etc etc etc and things still aren't perfect? Or even close to it?

It's hard when you feel like you're earning the GOOD stuff but the BAD stuff is overwhelming you.

I've been in that exact spot.

I've said to my Father in Heaven, "Uh, excuse me, I'm a decent enough person, I work super hard, I feel like my desires are pretty dang righteous, and yet, xyz happened and frankly, I'm offended."

Or perhaps it's not even bad STUFF but maybe you just aren't feeling the radiating joy that everyone is always kind of pushing for in the gospel. You know what I mean, like, "If you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, you'll be happy no matter what."

That idea?  It's like a THING in LDS culture.

Yeah, what if that is just kind of not working for you? What if you're just kind of surviving?

Then what?

I've got a few different posts in store addressing exactly this issue. Today's mini-solution is gratitude.

Perhaps one of my most favorite quotes of all time is this one by Gordon B. Hinckley,

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

Why do I love this quote so? Because it basically says that the joy is in the little things.

Every minute of every day is NOT going to be some glee-filled-smile-until-your-face-falls-off kind of minute.

No, most minutes are normal, some quiet, some loud, some messy, some VERY messy, some simple, some complex, some scary, some serene, but MOST of them are just normal.

And within the normal, there are ways to find joy.

President Hinckley says the trick is to thank the Lord for the letting you have the ride. YES YES YES!

An "attitude of gratitude" is essential to finding joy in life. I submit that the most happy people on the planet are those who are grateful to the Lord for the blessings they've been given; the big blessings, sure, but most essentially, the little.

Every single day is a lesson in gratefulness. Today perhaps you can find five things to be thank God for that you've previously overlooked or kind of taken for granted.

What are those things?

Maybe today they are: peanut butter and jelly, anti-depressants, a friend who sends a witty text, matching socks, kids who play nicely for a few minutes, a pizza delivery man, a loaf of homemade bread...

If you can, in the moment, when you realize you're grateful for something, send up a quick prayer heavenward, thanking God for that thing, whatever it may be, big or small, you'll find your heart a little lighter, life a little less heavy. No, it won't make your problems go away. No, it won't make you delirious with joy or anything, but it will allow you, in the times of regular old hard life, to push through, and to recognize the moments of true and deep joy when they come. They are almost always small and simple moments that are the most joyful. And with a grateful heart, you'll see them more often.

Colossians 2:7 says, "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." Be built up in Christ, be faithful and be grateful.

There, in the quiet, in the difficult, in the painful, you'll find the light.

1 comment:

  1. I have that quote on my fridge and as a piece of artwork hanging on my wall. I LOVE IT. I especially love the idea that not every day is going to be super spiritual happy fun time magic. Sometimes, it's just a day. And that's OK. It makes me even more grateful for those spiritual awesome days when they DO happen.