First off, it's been over a year since I've been home from my mission. It's crazy to me that those moments, captured in the pictures below, were over a year ago. So much has happened since then that I never could have imagined...
We are taught as children that God is a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to be happy. We learn it, and believe it. As children, we see the beauty of the world and find truth in that statement. Then life gets "real". Bad things happen. Your heart gets broken, work gets hard, decisions get confusing, motivation wanes, your weaknesses become apparent, and people you love make mistakes. You begin to lose faith in Joy.
Foreboding joy. Foreboding is a word that means "fearful apprehension" or "a feeling that something bad will happen". We refuse to feel joy because we're so worried that as soon as we do, it will be taken from us. "This happiness won't last, it never does, so why give my heart to it now?"
Yes, we are here on earth to be tried and tested. Life is "real". Life is hard. People are imperfect. BUT God is still our loving Heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to be happy now.
It actually reminds me of a good conversation my trainee and I had on our mission once. We had been knocking on doors for hours and hours in the pouring rain. Very few doors were being opened, and not a single person who did open the door allowed us in. We were getting discouraged. We even stopped expecting the door to open. We would still go through the motions because we were missionaries, we were there to preach the gospel, but we weren't enjoying it. And then we realized the fault in our low expectations. One door had little to no influence on whether or not the next door would open and accept us. Past let downs were taking away from the hope and joy of sharing the gospel with the next potential person. So we tried to change our mindset. We got to the last house after about 6 hours of walking up and down the street. We almost skipped it because our time was almost up, it was still pouring rain and not a single other door had let us in the whole day. Why would this one be different? But, we tried the door anyway, still with a tinge of doubt after a long day of nothing. We rang the csengo, and waited. Down came a young man. He invited us to come in and teach his family. They listened and invited us back again. Oh, how grateful we were that we didn't let all of the previous failures keep us from accepting that last door. In fact, all of the hardship that day helped us find traction for even greater joy in that one house.
Joy should not be hindered by fears based on past experiences. Foreboding joy is a choice we make.
I feel like I've fallen to this somewhat is the last several, crazy, busy months. A decent load of trials came my way and I sometimes allowed that to take away from the joy of the moment. A worry of the future undermined the precious joyous moments of the present.
And beyond that, I played the "I'll be happy when..." game. I'll feel happier when I'm graduated and have time to do what I want, I'll feel happier when this relationship feels more consistent. I'll feel happier when I get a better hang of my job... But even when those things did happen, I fell to the fault of foreboding joy.
I was grateful for the reminder today that I should be happy now. God wants and expects me to receive the moments I'm given here in life with joy. That's why they're given. The trials in life are not meant to keep us from happiness in the now.
Unlike popular belief, trials and hardships and unexpected failures can actually bring us more joy as we move forward with life, if we will accept that gift from God.
"Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load, but bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness".- David A. Bednar