Thursday, December 12, 2013

Learning to Love the Temple through Family History

I have a One Year Movie Rule.  I do not watch the same movie twice in one year because I get bored! One year is long enough for me to forget a few parts, making the movie almost new again.  I guess I have a short attention span. This makes attending a temple session a challenge for me.  As soon as the movie portion of a session comes on, my mind turns off.  It was worse when I became a mother. I was so tired all the time that when the lights went out I started to fall asleep!  A friend suggested that instead of performing an endowment session each time, Landon and I could alternate performing baptisms, initiatories, and sealings too.  That definitely helped increase the time between endowment sessions, but I still felt bad because I looked at temple work as more of a boring burden than a blessing.  I needed to learn to love the temple.

I learned how last month. The change in my heart came from being able to perform ordinances for my own ancestors. It began with a Sunday school lesson about family history. I have heard the admonition to do family history many times before and felt inspired, but guilty too. I knew stories about my ancestors, but never discovered temple ordinances that needed to be completed.  When I came to the end of a pedigree line, I quit looking.  I figured I would tackle family history someday.  Well... someday came with this statement by Elder Eyring that was quoted in the lesson; it pierced my heart and lingered with me the rest of the day:

"When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope.  Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom.  In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment.  Their hearts are bound to you.  Their hope is in your hands.  You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them" (Elder Henry B. Eyring, Hearts Bound Together, Liahona, May 2005).

The name of an ancestor, Increase Pettit, from my Grandma Ogilvie's side came into my mind. The next day, I logged onto Family Search and looked into his line to see what I could discover.  I noticed my 10th great grandmother was missing.  I began to do some research online and to my complete amazement, I found her! Her name is Alice and she was born in London in 1599. I could now perform her ordinances and seal her to her husband! That's all it took to catch the spirit of Elijah. I began working on my Grandpa Ogilvie’s Scottish line and 1 person turned into 162 people that needed temple work done! Through Family Search, I was able to request their ordinances and print off their ordinance requests at home. Then I took the request paper to the Ordinance Desk at the temple and they printed the individual cards I needed. The process was much easier than I thought it would be.

I have not been that excited to go to the temple since I went through the first time for myself! I cried as my father baptized me in behalf of my ancestors. Taking their names to the temple changed my perspective of temple work.  I realized that going to the temple is not about ME.  The temple is not there to entertain ME.  The temple is there so we can seal families together for eternity.  It is there so we can all, living and dead, partake of eternal life and exaltation.  My ancestors became more than just a name on a slip of paper; they became real people who were counting on me to help them.  When I went through the temple for Alice’s endowment, I watched the movie through Alice’s eyes, not mine.  I noticed things that I had not before. I did not fall asleep! Taking a family name made more out of the entire experience.  More gratitude, more excitment, more fulfillment. Finding my ancestors and performing their work is a blessing I am grateful to be a part of.

If you have caught the family history bug, then you know what I am talking about! The spirit of Elijah is strong. If you have not, go to Family Search. You can sign in with your LDS account if you have one. If not, you can make one.  You do not have to be a member of the church to access Family Search either.  Once into Family Search, you will find access to millions of people from census, birth, death, military, and other records from around the world.  If you are a member of the church or you have family who has done some family history, your family tree will already be created for you. Find how far back it goes! And when it ends, or when you notice a missing person, you can begin to extend your family chain as far as you can. Even if you do not find ancestors who need their temple work done, it is still neat to learn about them! Family Search now includes places for stories and photos of ancestors.  My friend Trisha told me, “I've been sitting here…reading stories about and seeing pictures of my grandparents and great grandparents. I've been crying my eyes out, but in a very good way!”  

Every name we perform work for at the temple is important.  Each and every person on that paper is someone’s ancestor and deserves our respect.  But for me, taking a personal family name has added so much more significance to the ordinances I perform for that person. Their sacrifices are the reason I am here today. I am grateful I have a lifetime ahead of me to do more family history because I have discovered it never ends. One family links to another, creating a chain of families to be bound together. I recognize how thin the veil between heaven and earth is.  Our ancestors are all around us, acting as guardian angels and guiding us down the right paths. My eternal perspective has also been expanded. It is easier to recognize what is important – my testimony and my family – and what will fade when this life ends.  I see that I am a link in this great family chain. I want to be more than just a name to my great-great grandchildren; I want them to know who I was and what I stood for. I want to be an ancestor my children and grandchildren will be proud of. I like to think my ancestors are proud of me too. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

How Many Children?

How many children are good Mormon women "supposed" to have?  I never planned to address this issue on my blog because it is so sensitive, but my dear friend recently told me she feels guilty for not wanting more kids.  She said, "I feel like it's my obligation as a Mormon to have more kids. But my heart isn't in it." I wonder if anyone else is struggling with these same feelings. Even though I feel uneasy putting my story into this post because I discuss a very personal decision, I feel prompted to share it. I ache for those mothers who are struggling to know when their family is complete. I pray for you to find peace, whatever your decision is.

When I was pregnant with Zachary, our third child, I knew I wanted to be done having kids. About two months after Zach was born, I became overwhelmed with guilt because I only wanted 3 kids. I have postpartum depression with every baby. I hate it. Really, really hate it. It's a bottomless dark pit and every time I fall in I wonder if I will ever come out again. Just thinking about going through it even one more time makes me panic and shake. I don't remember much of the first year of my children's lives –just bits and pieces from when I wasn't drowning. But the panic does not end one year after birth. I have anxiety attacks too, which began when my brother died in high school. They have worsened with each child.  I take some days minute by minute as I struggle to stay calm. I am so afraid that the more children I have, the less and less I will recognize myself. I am afraid I will disappear. And that would be really sad, because I am a super awesome mom to the three children I have. I'd like to keep it that way! I gained over 50 pounds with each pregnancy and lost my confidence. Right now I am still 40 pounds away from my normal weight, and that's after losing 45 pounds this last year. My right foot is still damaged to the point that I cannot walk on it barefoot without pain because it swelled so badly in each pregnancy. 

Despite all of these personal barriers to more children, I still felt selfish for wanting to be done. Isn't it normal to lose yourself to your children? Wasn't it my responsibility to "multiply and replenish the earth" until I was at least 35? I was only 27! My parents had 8 kids and I knew they wanted me to have more than 3. What if there was another child in heaven calling down, "Mom! Don't leave me here!" I would brave the storm and try to have more if the Lord asked me to. 

Thus began the heartfelt search for guidance. I fasted and prayed, discussed the issue with close friends, studied the scriptures, and read official church doctrine regarding the number of children families should have. Landon gave me a blessing with counsel straight from heaven that brought great comfort. By the time Zach was six months, I had my answer. Our family was complete. I had given all I could to bring my children to earth and it was enough. My eyes water even as I type this because I feel the Spirit confirm my decision once again.

So how many children are LDS families supposed to have?  To answer that, I went straight to the primary source: The General Handbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Husbands must be considerate of their wives, who have a great responsibility not only for bearing children but also for caring for them through childhood...Church members are taught to study the question of family planning, including such important aspects as the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life.  If, for personal reasons, a couple prayerfully decides that having another child immediately is unwise, birth control may be appropriate...Decisions regarding the number and spacing of children are to be made by husband and wife together, in righteousness, and through empathetic communication, and with prayer for the Lord's inspiration. Latter-day Saints believe that persons are accountable not only for what they do but for why they do it.  Thus regarding family size and attendant questions, members should desire to multiply and replenish the earth as the Lord has commanded.  In that process, God intends that his children use the agency he has given them in charting a wise course for themselves and their families" (The General Handbook of Instructions, 11-4. Salt Lake City, 1989).

There is no set number of children required to be a good Mormon. None of us should feel guilty, compare, or judge one another concerning the size of our families. It is a private matter between husband, wife, and the Lord to chart a wise course for their family. It is different for every family. There are so many, many variables to consider: physical, emotional, financial, mental, etc.  Some of the best women I know are not able to bear children and it breaks their heart.  They are no less righteous than women who have children.  And some of the best women I know have eight children. Isn't it wonderful that they can handle that many? God loves you whether you have no children or ten children or anywhere in between.  Don't ever forget that.

Where does the guilt to have more and more children come from anyway? It is not based in church doctrine. I blame it on the Utah culture I grew up in. My friend grew up in Colorado and told me that three children would be considered many outside of Utah! Apparently, green Jell-O is not the only cultural difference around here. The definition of a "big family" differs from family to family. So let's ease off ourselves if the Lord has told us we are done having kids. Guilt is not a good reason to have more babies. A spiritual prompting from the Lord is a good reason.

I don’t know why some families are big and some are little. I don't know why some people can't have babies when they want them so badly.  I don't know why some women who don't want more babies keep getting pregnant. But Heavenly Father does. Someday we will learn why everything happened the way it did. It will all make sense. Until then, we trust in the Lord, follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and have faith that God is guiding our family, no matter how big or small it is.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Never Hang Up

Have you heard the admonition to "always have a prayer in your heart?" I never understood that when I was growing up. How could I always pray? I had school to attend and friends to play with! I couldn't pray then! I learned how to have a prayer in my heart during the summer of 2004 when I taught English at the Xia Xi School of English in Dalian, China.  I entered the country alone and afraid. I will be forever grateful for the Holy Ghost, my constant companion. I prayed before I walked from my apartment to school. My blonde hair and blue eyes drew stares from everyone in the black-haired, almond-eyed sea of Chinese people.  Most stares were friendly and curious, but some in the shady neighborhood I walked through frightened me.  I prayed before I stood to teach a room full of eager teenagers and students.  I didn’t want to let them down.  I prayed before I ate delicious dumplings and hot pot; I prayed even harder over the cockroach shrimp, boiled just until they were dead. Ugh. I attended an LDS sacrament meeting one Sunday in Beijing.  It was held in the room of a high rise office building. I cried when I walked in because it felt so good to be surrounded by Mormons again! I cried when I walked out because China is dark and I hated to leave the light of that sacrament meeting.  China needs the gospel.  I eagerly await the day when their corrupt government will allow missionaries to proselyte.  Many good people are ready to accept the gospel. I know because I met them.

The scripture story that sustained me during that time of teaching is found in the Book of Mormon. When Alma and his people were in bondage to the wicked high priest Amulon and the Lamanites, their afflictions were so great that "they began to cry mightily unto God" (Mosiah 24: 10). Amulon threatened to kill every person found praying.  So Alma and his people "did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts."  God answered their prayers, made their burdens light, and eventually freed them from the Lamanites.  This is what it means to always have a prayer in your heart – to pray to God often throughout the day.

Praying to Heavenly Father is like making a phone call to a dear friend, except my speech is elevated with "thee" and thou" and "thine". He always answers on the first ring. I never get a busy signal. I can talk as long as I need to and He will listen intently the entire time. I could never call at a bad time because time is an earthly, not heavenly, concept. Heavenly Father is always available.  He is always happy to hear from me, even when I have made poor choices, because He is forgiving.  He loves me. He misses me. He communicates back to me too. Not by talking (wouldn't that be cool if He did!) but by giving me promptings and impressions from the Holy Ghost.  I close my prayers, but I never hang up the phone. I talk to Him many times throughout the day. In this way, my heart is continually drawn out in prayer.

We can call Him when the kids are jumping on the bed and ignoring our plea to get dressed!  He will grant us patience.  We can call Him when we leave for work and school.  He will grant us protection. We can call Him when we don't know what to make for dinner.  He will remind us of a forgotten recipe.  We can call Him when we learn that our friend is battling cancer.  He will bless her with strength and us with inspiration to help her. We can call Him just to say thank you while we are laughing on the couch with good friends. There is always a reason to send a prayer, either long or short, to heaven. We can always say thank you for our blessings or ask for help, whether for ourselves or someone else.  Whenever I hear an ambulance siren, I send a prayer to heaven.  Ambulances always remind me of the night my brother died. I have flashbacks of the terror I felt.  I pray that God will bless the person who needs medical help, the person's family, and the driver and paramedics in the ambulance.

The prophet Alma also taught us never to hang up the phone:
"Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto Him.  Cry when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks. Cry unto Him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.  Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.  Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.  Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them. Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.  But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness. Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you" (Book of Mormon, Alma 34: 19-27).

Is there ever a time NOT to pray? Nope. As Alma said, we should always pray for help for ourselves and for those around us.  We could spend our whole day on our knees thanking Him for all His blessings! But then we could not take care of our families or fulfill our responsibilities. But if we always have a prayer in our heart, we do not have to be on our knees to pray. Our prayers reach heaven in the midst of whatever we are doing. No matter where in the world we are, from China to America, we never have to hang up.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Way It Is Supposed to Be

I just attended my 10 year high school reunion. I was unsure whether to go or not.  I was so ready to flee high school that I started the summer semester at BYU just a few weeks after graduation.  Why in the world would I want to go back to those days of insecurity and comparisons?  The answer to that question is simple: friends.  I have not seen some of them in years! Blogs and facebook do not compare to real life chats. High school reunions are for reminiscing with friends, catching up on one another’s lives, and being happy for each other.  They remind us that relationships matter most.

The first person I talked to at the reunion was my friend Abbey.  We have been friends since the beginning years of elementary school - since we were old enough to wear Pizza Factory clothes to school! Remember how popular those were? And remember the time we jumped on your trampoline with water balloons down the front of our swimsuits and a lady in a red sports car stopped and stared at us?  Abbey also told me that she loves reading this blog and she would like it if I posted more often.  Sometimes I need that encouragement to put my heart out into the blogosphere. Abbey, I told you that I would pray for inspiration for a new blog post.  It turns out YOU were my inspiration.

The longer I have been out of high school, the more I realize that I was surrounded by incredible people. We were still trying to figure out who we were in high school.  Many of us still are! But we are now ten years closer to realizing who God intends for us to become. "All human beings - male and female - are created in the image of God.  Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995). 

We are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. We are contributing members of society who make our world better just by being in it. Our roles are unique. Our lives are different in ways that were meant to be different.  God has a plan for each of us, and as long as we live worthy and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we are following His plan for us. How blessed we are to be children of the Master Creator!

Many of us have become mothers.  We are tired to our bones, covered in poop and spit up, snacking on fruit loops, and we are HAPPY about it! We are paid in hugs and kisses. No job is more challenging or rewarding than motherhood.  Fathers are invaluable too.  “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995). 

People from my graduating class have become teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, soldiers, policeman, stylists, social workers, photographers, and more.  We have succeeded in making the world a better place in our own appointed ways.  Now that we are older, I like to think that we no longer compare who is the most successful or who is the most popular.  We had a sanctioned contest for that in high school! Every year we would vote for who was “Most Preferred,”  “Most Likely to Succeed, and “Best Smile” and on, and on, and on. Those votes meant nothing.  

My husband and I were never voted Most Preferred, but we definitely prefer each other over anyone else!  Most Likely to Succeed – what does that even mean? Is it who makes the most money? There is not one narrow definition of success as the world would have us think. Success comes from setting and achieving worthy goals, whatever they may be. We have all succeeded if we live happy and fulfilling lives where we spend our days in service to our friends, family, and our nation.  And best smile? The media would like you to believe that you are not beautiful unless you spend thousands of dollars to look like movie star or starve yourself to look like a runway model.  If you understand your worth as a child of God, you know that the world is WRONG.  You have a wonderful smile.  I do not have to see what you look like to know that.  You are beautiful because you are God’s. You were created in His image. Our bodies are a magnificent gift from Him.  When we criticize our appearance, we criticize His creation.  I need to remember that.

God loves us because we are His children.  If we truly understand that, we will treat EVERYONE with love and respect, including ourselves. One of the Primary songs we teach children to sing in our church is called, "We Are Different."

"I know you, and you know me.
We are as different as the sun and the sea.
I know you, and you know me.
And that's the way it is supposed to be.
I love you, and you love me.
We reach together for the best we can be.
I love you, and you love me.
And that's the way it is supposed to be!"

That is what I learned from my high school reunion.  I guess reunions aren’t so bad after all!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Changed by Charity

Song lyrics lodge themselves in my brain and emerge from my mouth when someone says a word or phrase that is in the song. Usually I sing them before I realize I am singing! For example, take the word "heaven."  Here we go.  "Ooh baby, do you know what that's worth? Ooh heaven is a place on earth!" and "Baby you're all that I want, when you're lying here in my arms, I'm finding it hard to believe, we're in heaven" and "Where is heaven? Is it very far? I would like to know if it's beyond the brightest star.  Where is heaven? Will you show the way? I would like to learn and grow and go there someday."

Charity is the pure love of Christ. Love brings to mind dozens of songs, and if I listed every song I would be here all day.  But here is the first song on the list, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  It's the only thing that there's just too little of."  Okay, just one more. "All you need is love, love is all you need."  Who knew The Beatles were echoing the words of Moroni when they recorded that song? He taught that if we do not have charity, we are nothing. Yikes. Charity must be pretty important! Thus the examination of charity.  Elder Marvin J. Ashton, a past member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, taught that charity is more than service. "Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again" (The Tongue Can be a Sharp Sword, April 1992 General Conference).

Charity is loving God's children the way HE loves them. How then do we act towards our fellowmen, and ourselves, when we are filled with the virtue of Christ's love? After studying Moroni Chapter 7 and the words of modern prophets, this is what I came up with.

If we LACK charity, we will:

1. Gossip and talk badly about other people
2. Judge other people
3. Put others down to build ourselves up
4. Feel entitled to blessings we do not have
5. Gratify our own desires no matter the cost
6. Take offense, whether when it is intended or not
7. Hold onto grudges
8. View people as our enemies
9.  Envy others' accomplishments
10. Be quick to criticize ourselves and others

If we HAVE charity, we will:

1. Speak kindly about our fellow men
2. Give others the benefit of the doubt
3. Give compliments freely and openly
4. Be grateful for the blessings we have been given
5. Think of others needs before ourselves
6. Accept advice with humility
7. Freely forgive
8. View people as fellow sons and daughters of God
9.  Be happy for others' accomplishments
10. Be patient with ourselves and others

I love Elder Ashton's continued explanation of charity in his talk.  It explains more fully how we behave when we are changed by charity:

Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don't judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet.  Charity is accepting someone's differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who had let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn't handle something the way we might have hoped.  Charity is refusing to take advantage of another's weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us.

How can we receive charity? By praying for it. Moroni taught that we should "pray unto the Father with ALL the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true folllowers of his Son, Jesus Christ" (7:48).  The times I prayed for charity the most were when I had conflicts with others, making it more difficult for me to love them. When I prayed to see them as Christ sees them, I saw past the mote in their eyes and noticed the beam in my own (Luke 6:42). Can you imagine how the world would change if we were all filled with charity? So music industry, if you need inspiration for a new love song, I recommend you read Moroni Chapter 7 in the Book of Mormon.  It is about real, perfect love. It is Christ's love and it can change all our lives for eternity.

Monday, January 7, 2013

From Misery to Happiness

My little sister was recently married in the Salt Lake Temple.  At her reception, I saw an old friend of mine. We began reminiscing about high school.  More specifically, how it seemed we had a reputation for being happy all the time.  She mentioned that our peers often told her that her smile had helped them when they were having a bad day. Who could blame them? I love her smile too! I was given similar compliments. We both felt glad our upbeat personalities could help lift others around us who were having a hard day.  It feels good to know others feel happy around you! I think it feels even better to make people laugh! However, we talked about how we also felt like we had to be happy all the time in order to meet others' expectations. We felt pressured to keep a bubbly reputation, as though people were counting on us. During my senior year I asked my seminary teacher, "Do I have to smile when I don't feel happy?"

I don’t have to ask a seminary teacher anymore. My answer is no. I do not have to smile all the time.  I have experienced trials so difficult that I ached to feel a flicker of joy just for a fleeting moment.  I have wondered if I would ever be happy again.  We are surrounded by war, terrorism, abuse, poverty, sickness, addiction, crime, hunger, and moral decay.  With these awful afflictions, no one is expected to be genuinely happy all the time. Even our perfect God is not happy all the time. Watching how their children suffer here on earth surely causes our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to weep. The prophet Enoch witnessed this:

And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced …

And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; 
And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood (Moses 7: 26-33)
The Lord saw how Satan held the whole earth in a chain, veiling it with darkness. It did not cause Him to simply wipe away a few tears.  It caused the heavens to “shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains.”  If God weeps over our pain, surely we can have a good cry without feeling guilty! There seems to be a stereotype that Mormons are always cheerful. That is wonderful! I hope we do strive to have a positive attitude and it will attract nonmembers to the gospel. I think generally we are happier because of our faith. But a cheerful stereotype can also hurt us if we think we always have to live up to it. We place an unnecessary burden upon ourselves to hide our sorrow – just as I did in high school. 

Sharing our grief with other reveals we are real. How often have you misjudged people, thinking they had perfect lives, only to later discover they were dealing with intense trials? I have done that far too often. Pretending everything is all right when everything is all wrong causes loneliness and alienation – how can others offer a shoulder to cry on if they do not know we are crying? We are designed to serve one another, creating authentic relationships that can exist into the eternities. My ward is a wonderful example of this. It is full of amazing people who care about each other. We know one another’s trials. We share each other’s burdens. When one of us is weighed down, we simply have to let someone know and we are soon smothered with visits, phone calls, babysitting offers, meals, and listening ears.  I witnessed this again firsthand just a few months ago when I was having a terrible week of postpartum depression. My ward is Superman.

We should not feel guilty when we do not respond to every trial with a smile. Our eternal perspective does help us endure times of trouble, but grief is real and healing takes time. Our Savior’s grace does not shield us from pain, but it does provide peace so that we can feel joy again.  Our testimonies allow us to be happier, but not always happy.   

Our Heavenly Father knows we experience pain, sickness, hate, and despair.  He knows we must experience these things – we chose to experience these things – in order to be like Him. But He also taught, “Men are that they might have joy” (2 Ne 2:25). He wants us to be happy! He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins and sufferings so that we can have eternal joy with Him. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Joseph Smith taught, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (History of the Church, 5: 134-35).

God sent His son to provide the way for eternal happiness. I think trying to stay positive through our trials can help us. However, God does not expect us to shout hurray every time we hurt! My favorite scripture story is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  It is tender to me because, like Mary and Martha, my brother died. I feel Mary and Martha’s pain when they fall at our Savior’s feet and cry, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!”  Does Jesus say, “Stop crying girls. Buck up and be happy. He’s in a better place. You’ll see him again”? Of course not! The scriptures simply say, “Jesus wept.”  He felt Mary and Martha’s pain. He cried with them, just as He cried with me when my brother died. Surely He cries with all of us when we suffer. He is the only one who truly knows how we ache because he felt all of our pain in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Because Jesus atoned for our sins and sorrows, he has all power to take them from us.  He invites, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He expects us to grasp tightly to His enabling power so He can comfort us. Our trials can teach us how much we need our Savior. We cannot be happy without Him.  He is the light and life of the world and the only way we can return home.  When we despair, he brings hope.  When we worry, he brings peace.  When we anger, he brings forgiveness.

And when we do laugh again, we feel grateful for the ability to laugh.  We smile knowing that we still can smile! I believe the happiest people are those who have endured suffering with faithful hearts, and are therefore more grateful for the moments of joy in their lives. Like Adam and Eve when they were driven from the Garden of Eden, we know joy because we know misery (2 Ne 2:23). We are not just happy, we are happier.