Wednesday, May 6, 2015

D&C 123:16-17 -- On Doing it All, Cheerfully

"You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."
Doctrine and Covenants 123:16-17

We get overwhelmed in life sometimes, thinking that we can't do enough, can't make a difference, can't do what anyone expects, let alone what God asks: perfection.  We can get to feeling like life is too hard, and that it is just something that is to be suffered through.  It's easy to get discouraged and think that suffering is what endure to the end means, and that our only joy and rest will come after this life.  There are some flaws in this type of thinking however. One is Alma 42:8, which refers to the gospel as God's "great plan of happiness."  This indicates that happiness is what the whole plan is about.  The other is Mormon 9:14.  Talking about the judgment, it says "he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still."  That definitely suggests that we can, and should, be happy now if we want to be happy eternally.
Happiness isn't just another requirement on top of all the rest, like someone forcing you to smile, or "say it like you mean it."  God will never force us into anything at all.  He respects the freedom of choice he has given us, and he knows that we'll never become all that we can be without making the choices for ourselves.  I think that instead of being a requirement it is an opportunity.  God *wants* us to enjoy our lives, and wants us to find happiness.  Maybe we should let go of some of our anxiety and try to enjoy it. :)
Of course this doesn't mean that sadness never happens, or that we should bail on our obligations to God or ditch our responsibilities to our families.  We probably shouldn't even quit our jobs and move to a tropical island, although that is a valid option for some. :)  What it does mean is that we should let ourselves enjoy the journey.  We should find the joy in service and in our daily lives, and if we just can't... then we need to change ourselves or change our circumstances.  Sometimes that means just taking time to relax and notice nature, but other times it might mean antidepressants, or finding a different job or not volunteering for extra things anymore.  God doesn't require us to do it all, and he doesn't hate us if we need help.  Let's make the changes that we need to in our lives so that we can find happiness and bring joy to others.
Instead of being overwhelmed, let's remember that small changes can affect our whole lives... like the helm of a ship.  We can change direction and focus and accomplish a lot without having to (uselessly) move the ocean out of the way.  I love the line "let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power."  ... Too often we focus on doing more than we can do, and we don't even think about whether we can do it cheerfully or not.  We take on too much, or we are so worried about juggling it all that we can't enjoy it.  Today, let's *cheerfully* do all we can.  Let's find a level we can accomplish, and enjoy, and then as we improve, we can increase that level as long as it is still balanced with joy. :)  Let's choose our priorities carefully, making sure that God comes first, and we'll find that other things settle into more manageable spots. :)  And then, when we are cheerfully engaged in doing all we can, let's be assured that God will do his part, and make things right.

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