Today our lesson in Relief Society (the portion of our church service where the women separate from the men and we have our own lessons.) was on Thomas S. Monson's talk entitled "Finding Joy in the Journey." If you'd like to read it, you can here.
The teacher had women at various stages in life talk about five things that brought them joy in their lives right now. She had a young single woman, a young newly married woman, a woman with young children, a woman with young and teenage children, etc. You get the picture. Anyway, it got me to thinking: what do I find joy in right now?
1. My family. I've always been close to my family, but having them at such a distance where I don't get to see them as often brings them to my thoughts more often than when they were around all the time. Isn't it funny how that is? I think of them often, pray for them daily, and love them more than I tell them. Mimi reminded me the other day of how lucky we are to have all this technology that makes keeping in touch so much easier, and realistic. I almost cried when I thought about the fact that if we had lived so many years ago I might never get to see baby Jill, much less meet her! I am truly grateful for my family and the opportunities that allow me to feel close to them, even when so far away. Not to mention my family that is here with me: Devin and Hallie. They obviously bring joy to my life every day as well.
2. My friends. I have such amazing friends! There are so many wonderful people in my life that make me feel good about myself, that make me feel happy. I wish I was better at thinking of ways to make them feel so happy. I love that I have such "good" friends... friends that are really good people, that are such amazing examples to me that I always feel to be more like them. Thanks guys!
3. My health, security, food, warmth (or as summer approaches the blessing of not being too warm, of having a.c.). I've pretty much gotten to the point now where it's painful for me to watch the news at night. There is so much turmoil and trauma in the world -but it does make me extra appreciative of what I have, and reminds me not to take it for granted. I thank God for my many blessings every day, and can't help but feel that I am blessed far beyond what I deserve. Which is again another motivating factor in trying to be better than I am.
4. I am finding joy right now in the outdoors. Spring has finally settled here, and it is glorious. There is a little food stand (sells ice cream cones and hot dogs, you know?) that is deliciously within walking distance that just opened up a few weeks ago. I've made Devin walk over there with me twice. I figure if you're walking to get your ice cream then it's ok, right? I definitely get joy out of the trees blooming and showing off, and all the tulips that are so bright and cheerful. It's so refreshing.
5. What else am I finding joy in these days? I guess all of the little things that make life so worth living. The dinner that turned out a little better than you had expected, and you can't get enough of. Teaching Hallie where her nose is, and seeing how proud she is when she can point to it. Hearing Devin talk about his experiments at work and how good he is at what he does. Not having to wear socks because that means it's warm enough outside for sandals. How good my hair smells after a shower. How a little blue eyeshadow perks up my whole day. Talking to my sister after she had her baby and knowing everyone was healthy and beautiful. Opening a fresh jar of peanut butter and giving Hallie her first spoonful of it. Dancing around the living room with Devin. Reminiscing about good times with old friends. Making plans for the future. Counting the change in a piggy bank. Finding an unexpected piece of Easter candy.
What 5 things are you finding joy in these days?
and last but not least,
6. President Monson said in his talk, “Nothing is as constant as change.” We know that not all change in this life will be good, and it might be at times hard to find the joy in our journey. And yet, knowing as I do that Heavenly Father loves me, and that through Christ's atonement he overcame the world, I can do the same. There is so much power in that knowledge to have joy if we let ourselves. Why not? If we really believe that to be true, how can we feel to murmur? I don't know if anyone reading this is struggling with a particularly hard time right now, but if so, take a minute to think about five things that are good, and practice focusing on those when all else is seemingly hopeless. So that's the last and most that brings me joy. That I can change, grow, improve myself, and have hope always, even when things aren't springtime and roses as they are now.
"Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth."
Sarah Ban Breathnach, in John Cook, comp., The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd ed. (2007), 342.