Just Choose JOY

I am not going to lie. I am not always “enjoying the moment” or choosing joy. I wish that I could say that I was. But sometimes, life brings on a new challenge or mountain to climb and I don’t look at it as positively as I could. 

In November, Isaac was asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him that the only thing that I really wanted was a trip to New York. I wanted an opportunity to visit my “second family” over there and a chance to visit my glorious mission. I also wanted to be able to do all the fun touristy stuff with Isaac too because he has never been to New York. 

In December, we found pretty cheap tickets and we did not hesitate. We bought those tickets and I was SOOOO excited. Beyond excited!! I spent the next 3 months preparing, planning, and getting even more excited. I contacted all the people I wanted to see and told them I was finally going to be able to visit them. Dreams come true…!!

But then, sometimes things happen that are out of our control and we have to roll with the punches. Sometimes our dreams shift a little or get delayed. But that doesn’t mean that they still can’t come true.

As you all know, Coronavirus is the talk of the world. Things are getting canceled left and right. People are getting sick all over the world. There is mass hysteria and panic. This is something we have never really seen or experienced before. 

Isaac and I had to consider whether we were going to brave going to New York in the midst of all of this craziness. We were going to go. We thought to ourselves, nahh we got this. Everything is fine. But then we listened to the voice of the Prophet that suggested we take care of ourselves and prepare with 2 weeks of food and reach out to those around us in need. 

If supporting home-centered church  and keeping people from traveling was so important to the prophet of God, then it had to be something important for us too. 

We ended up canceling our trip to New York and I was so depressed and distraught. I wasn’t going to be able to do the things that I had been planning for the last 3 months. I just wanted to break down and cry. If I couldn’t go to New York, I didn’t want to do ANYTHING else! 

I know. I was a bit dramatic. Or maybe a lot of bit. But, I was upset and I was NOT looking for Joy. That thought didn’t even cross my mind. I would rather choose moping around and being depressed than choosing joy. 

But then, my sweet husband reminded me that sometimes bad things or unwanted things happen, especially things that are out of our control. No matter what though, we still have to enjoy the moment. Heavenly Father gave us this life to enjoy it and to learn and grow.

Sometimes I hate it when he’s right. But that did make me sit back and think a minute. Was it worth it to still find joy and be happy even though I wasn’t feeling it and things didn’t go how I expected them too? 

Words from the Prophet came rushing through my head. “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays… My brothers and sisters, there is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today”.

That really got me thinking. I am the one who controls how I feel and how I think. I am the one in control of my reaction to every day life. I am the one who gets to decide what my life turns out to be. 

Rather than having a bunch of empty yesterdays, I do want a bunch of full and happy todays. 

I remember when I was on my mission, serving the Lord. I was the closest to God than I have ever been in my life. It was then that I learned to find joy in every moment and that I purposely chose joy even when it was hard. 

There was one day when something was bummy. My companion and I were feeling down and the situation wasn’t what we hoped. I had just said out loud “man, this is so upsetting”. The other missionaries around me noticed and just burst into laughter. I was like what, why are you laughing at me? They said that I could have my leg cut off or be starving or be in a dangerous situation and I would still be “upset”. But that my tone of voice and my reaction didn’t show that I was really upset. I realized it was because my reaction was so nonchalant. The situation was upsetting but I couldn’t do anything about it so I just kept moving forward. That became an inside joke for us. It is something that I had forgotten about, but I hope to be able to get to that point again.

One of the jewish survivors from the holocaust had shared his experiences from his time there. He said that the guards had taken his clothes. They had taken his food. They had taken his family. However, there is one thing that they couldn’t take away and that was his thoughts and feelings. He knew that he was in control and that he could be happy, even in the worst trial he would ever experience. Even when his life was on the line. And he was. He was probably the happiest soul living in those concentration camps. That was the choice he made. Because if those were going to be his last days of life, he was going to live his life to the fullest and enjoy it.

I have been kicking myself in the butt after remembering all of this. But I was able to find my faith again. How could I ever forget the miraculous and powerful hand of God in my life? He did take something that I love and so desperately want. However, I know that he is going to give me something better. That is a promise he has made to me in return for living my life for Him. 

When we are closest to God and when we have faith that He knows us and what is best, we start living in the moment and enjoying the life that we do have. We stop feeling major disappointment and grief but rather hope and confidence. We start trusting in his timing and know that he’s got some pretty awesome things in store for us. We start choosing joy so that we have a bunch of full yesterdays and beautiful todays.

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