There is no telling how much the sunrise means to the one whose had a terrible night.
I love that song lyric by Michael Mclean.
But today my heart won’t let me sleep until this is written. I should be exhausted and feel a little weepy but sleep won’t come so here is the thought that I feel I should share.
I taught the Sunday school lesson on 2 Nephi 2:25
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
We celebrate that Eve and Adam decided to eat the fruit so that we could be, and we acknowledge that Jesus wants us to have joy. But a lesson that I wouldn’t learn until later in life is that that joy is to be had NOW!
One time I was talking with a kind bishop about my life. He told me frankly, “This life is not to be endured. We are to have joy NOW! If anything in your life, I mean ANYTHING, is not bringing you joy then you need to change it.” This was a new idea to me. Could it really be true?
If you continue reading the very next verse in the scripture it states ” knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon” The idea that we act and are not acted upon is hard doctrine. The phrase is easy enough but its application hurts. Its another way of saying just because you were a victim doesn’t mean you have to stay one. Just because something happened it doesn’t have to define you forever. You can choose to change even if it hurts.
I guess it’s helpful to know that the bishop gave me this advice in regards to my marriage. I felt so trapped. I was unhappy with the way I was being treated by my husband, Dave. I felt so responsible for my husband’s choices. If only I could be prettier, kinder, more patient things would be better. It was my love that was going to save my husband. The Lord had to remind me that Dave was His before he was ever mine and that only He could heal him and get him to where he needs to go. But it feels so important to be someone’s savior. The downfall of that is that it’s also crazy making.
So as I was discussing this idea of happiness now I could tell that there were a few people who weren’t quite sure that I was right. So I drew on a talk I had found given in October of 1986 by Russel M Nelson. Elder Nelson suggests that we know that “men are that they might have joy” but we forget that “joy cometh in the morning?”
So I want you to imagine this next scene. There is Elder Nelson with all his children gathered around. You hear one of his children ask how we can experience this joy spoken of in the scriptures and here is his reply.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ offers hope,” Elder Nelson answers. “It declares joy to be part of our divine destiny. And to experience joy in the morning becomes our special challenge. The true test,” he continues, “is to be able to look in the mirror, first thing in the morning, and feel real joy.”(Nelson, 1986)
When I had first found this talk I awoke before my alarm. I was tired and definitely far from feeling joy. I had to kneel down and ask why I wasn’t feeling joy. The thought came to me, “When is the last time you repented?” I continued to kneel and review my week about what I needed to right with the Lord. I felt more at peace.
Then Elder Nelson continues
“My dear ones,” he’d reply, “in order to experience true joy in the morning, or at any time, at least three factors are needed. You need to feel good about the people with whom you live and work—your companions in life. You must feel good about yourself—not in any sense of conceit, but simply a proper esteem for yourself, well deserved. And possibly most important, you must feel good about your relation to God and sincerely love him.” (Nelson, 1986).
So let’s return to the scripture where I started. One word that has completely stuck out to me in preparing for this lessons was “might.” Men “might” have joy. If they choose joy the can have it, but if the don’t choose joy they will reap that reward. If you choose to have joy in the morning you might have that too. But you do have to examine three major relationships. First, the close intimate associations of family and colleagues. Do they bring you joy in the morning? What could you do to be around people that do bring you joy? You might have to change your environment or some of your companions? But you get to act. Second, you must be kind to yourself and find the value and divine worth that is inside. That you can believe your life is of greatest value and importance and that what you do makes a difference. What would have to change in order to have the proper esteem for yourself? Third, you must have a correct idea about the nature, attributes, and perfections of your loving kind Father in heaven. Easy things… but not so easy to implement. Do you sincerely love God?
As you quietly reflect on these three factors may the Spirit quietly gently guide you to know where to start and how to experience true joy every morning.
I know it’s possible. I haven’t always done it but I intend to live with greater faith in this beautiful principle.