[To read Parts I through V, Click Here.]
In conclusion, I want to now go back to the middle of my story and share how I moved from a life that lacked true joy, to where I am now–that is, living in joy daily.
But I want to ask you again, a third time: Is there anything in your life right now that you’d like to change or have different? Would you like more joy in your life?
If so, “how can we know the way” to do so?
David O. McKay said, “Christ’s divine answer was: ‘I am the way…’ (John 14:5-6). And so He is! He is the source of our comfort, the inspiration of our life, the author of our salvation. If we want to know our relationship to God, we go to Jesus Christ. If we would know the truth of immortality of the soul, we have it exemplified in the Savior’s resurrection…He is the one Perfect Being who ever walked the earth; the sublimest example of nobility; Godlike in nature; perfect in his love; our Redeemer; our Savior; the immaculate Son of our Eternal Father; the Light, the Life, the Way” (David O. McKay, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 2003, 3-4, 5).
And so it is. At both the beginning and the end of my long list of “look what I’ve done Lord to change my life” filled with scripture studies and prayers and charitable works (all of which are certainly so very important to knowing Him and living in joy), there stood One. And it was on my knees, in a simple, humble prayer that I found Him again. I finally realized I would never have enough to give Him. And it was okay. And so I handed Him my my tattered, fraying, sad little life, independent of all the things I thought I needed to do first. Because ultimately, only He could change it. And He did.
Because when I face the wall in front of me, it is He who says, “Thy walls are continually before me” (1 Nephi 21:16).
When I am lonely, it is He who says, “and lo, I am with you, even unto the end” (D&C 105:41).
When I am burdened, it is He who says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:30).
When I wonder which direction to go or choice to make, it is He who says, “Trust in [me] with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge [me], and [I] will direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
When I am seeking greater peace in my home, family, and heart, it is He who says, “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me” (D&C 19:23).
When I am saddened, faced with fear, hurt or illness, it is He who says, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you” (John 14:18).
When our world swirls around us, it is he who “arises, and rebukes the winds and the sea; until there is calm” (Matt 8: 26).
When I don’t feel strong enough to handle what I’ve been given, or face what is ahead, it is He who is my “strength and [our] song” (1 Nephi 22:2).
When I am out of breath, it is God who “breathed … the breath of life” into Adam (Moses 3:70).
When I feel dead, it is He who said, “I am the life” (John 14:6).
When I want, it is He who says, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 6: 7).
When I feel condemned and ashamed, it is He who says, “neither do I condemn thee” (John 8:11).
When I feel I need to suffer more for my sins, it is He who says, “I have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer” (D&C 19:16).
When I hunger, it is He who says, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48).
When I thirst, it is He who says, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:14).
When the present seems dark, it is He who says, “I am the light” (3 Ne. 18:16).
When I don’t know the way, it is He who says, “I am the way.” (John 14:6).
My friends, it’s not that we choose joy. It’s that we choose Christ. It doesn’t matter what we do to change our lives on our own or how much we tell ourselves to be happy. It is only because of Him that bad things can be good, that sinful things can be wiped clean, that aching things can be healed. That is what a joyful life is … that despite, and most times in spite of hard things, there most certainly can be peace, comfort, strength, joy. For He said, “in this WORLD your joy is not full, but in ME your joy is full.”
My journey was not so much a journey back to joy as it was a journey back to Him. May you seek Him. For you will most certainly find Him. He is there and ever will be.
That is my personal witness.