Food for thought: [This from a friend of mine, Janelle Koeven]
In his vision of the tree of life Lehi saw the plight of men as they groped through a life of temptations and trials that often blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of many. Others, mocked by their peers but guided by the words of prophets, ancient and modern, pressed forward through the darker moments of life, sustained primarily by faith, until they qualified themselves to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, which was representative of the love of God.
Nephi, Lehi’s son, who also saw the vision, remarked to the angel who served as his guide that this love of God was most desirable above all things he had ever experienced. To this the angel of the Lord responded, “Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” (1 Ne. 11:23.) Joy, in the sense that Lehi is using the word, comes as a result of understanding and experiencing the love of God, and that understanding comes only as a consequence of struggle, trial, and endurance.
One of the most complete comments on happiness in all of the scriptures is the one made by Jesus in the introductory portion of the Sermon on the Mount, in the section called the Beatitudes. The word blessed, as used in the Beatitudes, has the connotation of happiness, and some modern translations have even changed “blessed” to read “happy.” In this famous section of the sermon (Matt. 5:1–12; 3 Ne. 12:1–12), Jesus points out that happiness can come even to the poor in spirit if they will come to him and partake of his love and aid.
This got me thinking! It was like a little mini-epiphany.
I remembered some of the times I was ‘poor in spirit.’ When I was a rebellious teen. When I resented almost everyone who was trying to tell me I could do better, choose better. When I didn’t want anything to do with religion. When I did things to purposefully hurt myself. When I was arrogant. When I was rude to others. When I was out of control. When I hurt my children. When I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.
Yah, those are not good memories. I suppose I remember them to help keep me from reliving. I suppose I remember to realize how far from there I’ve moved.
And right now, this very moment, I know for sure that my happiness came because I left that place. I’m not sure where I got the strength or the conviction to do so. I’m sure, though, that some of it came through the prayers of others. I know my mother prayed for me, by name, on a regular basis. I’d like to think that my dad did, too.
And now I find myself praying for my own children, for them to receive the same happiness, the same peace of mind the same wonderful joy, the same contentment and love.
Does that mean my life is perfect and theirs isn’t? Heavens no! My life is so far from perfect it’s often laughable. My house –> disaster. Filthy. My weight –> out of control. Completely frustrating. My marriage –> Um, lets not go there. So unfulfilling. But something is good, something is near perfect! And, I guess I would have to put my love of the Lord in that perfect column. I’d put my testimony of the Gospel right there.
This got me thinking! Again.
Struggle, trial and endurance are the key to happiness! In a sense. Should we search out trials? I think not. But I do believe with all my heart that struggle and trial do strengthen us so that we can endure. And when we endure, we find happiness.
Which means that I am thankful for trials and struggles. I guess. I’ve heard people say that and now I understand why. Struggles brought me to where I am. Trials strengthened my resolve to lean on the Lord, which leaning, in turn, strengthen me.
I have been thinking about my Father a lot this week because of Fathers Day. I want to love him and I want to know he loved/s me. I want to know that for sure. Every once in a while I say I know, but then I lose it. I lose the hope that he did/does. I know that he did the best he could. I know that he had a boatload of his own personal trials and struggles. I know that he tried to show love in other ways. But for once, I’d just like to feel his arms around me and hear the words, “I love you so much, Dorothy,” right out of his mouth. Right out of his heart.
Is that asking too much? In the vision of the Tree of Life, I sometimes picture our family there. I picture my dad is Lehi, that he beckons to me but I am with Lamen and Lemuel. I picture me being with them just to hurt him. Just to see if he will make me follow him. And I see that he didn’t. I had to [finally] choose that for myself. Most of my siblings did follow and have wonderfully happy lives. But I struggled. I had [my own self-made] trials. I have to endure the choices that I have made.
And I have done a complete re-peat of my relationship with my dad. With my own kids. I have withheld affection, sympathy, empathy, love, support. I’m trying to make up for all of that now. Right now. If it isn’t too late.
I realize all over again how very important parenting is. I see how it affects you/me the rest of our lives. I see that it impacts our children and grandchildren.
I don’t know of one single thing more important than being a good parent. So on this Fathers Day I might not know of my own dad’s love, but I do know about My Heavenly Father’s love. I know for sure that happiness can come even to the poor in spirit if they will come to Him and partake of His love and aid. I know He knows me and loves me and helps me and directs me and protects me. And that’s enough. For me. Right Now.