When it comes to family, I have certainly been blessed with the best! It's not uncommon in our family to open up a thought-provoking and inspiring email from a family member throughout the course of a busy and stressful week. This is a part of one of those love-inspired emails, written by my older brother back in July of 2019,
"As we continue on with life I hope that we will take the time we are given and make the most of it. I believe the only way to be truly happy in life is to grow and progress in the gospel, to see the fruit of our labor, and to help others do the same. I look forward to the day we stand before our Savior and hope that when we do, we will have lived our lives in such a way that we may be greeted with those words,
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant.""
The couple of weeks prior to receiving that email, my studies and my wrestlings with the spirit had become about me. Trying to help myself have more joy, trying to figure out my problems. And as a result my problems only grew larger and more unbearable in my eyes. That email from my brother inspired me to look back to the two years of my life that I spent in Idaho as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. During that time, my only problems were the problems, strugglings, difficulties and trials of those around me who I was sent to help and who I was growing to love. I now add my testimony to that of my older brother's.
I think back to Ammon, a prophet and great missionary in the Book of Mormon. Mormon tells us of the joy that Ammon experiences as the result of his great effort and goes on to explain, "Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness." When we focus on our problems, we lose perspective to them. They grow larger and more concerning in our sight, and they begin to consume us. As our concern turns towards others, humility is acquired, God is sought more fervently, and the joys of the Gospel of Jesus Christ flood into our lives like the rains at the time of Noah, our problems washed away, our worries destroyed, our weaknesses are left behind and the strength and power of God take their place.
God does not ask that we read scripture, attend meetings, or that we make and keep covenants just to test our obedience or to give us something to do. He asks that we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we may not only learn of our Savior's divinity, but that we may also begin to develop the mind and character of Christ. David A. Bednar, teaches that the character of Christ is to turn outward rather than turning inward. In every situation it is to aid, to assist, to inspire, and to lift those around us.
Mormon uses the word happiness in the Book of Mormon like it is something we can have a physical hold on. I believe that it is more than a feeling we may have claim on every now and then when things seem to be going right in our lives, and that it is another Christ-like attribute that we can develop, tune, and perfect through His grace. After all, God has declared,
"Men are, that they might have joy.",
And the lord,
"Giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them".
I too hope that we may all hear these words from the Savior to each and every one of us at the last day, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant".