Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Choosing Happiness

Many years ago I was a young, overwhelmed mother.  (Because now I'm an old, in-control mom?)  I had four little babies.  Have I mentioned that our oldest was still three when our fourth was born?  Needless to say there was lots of dirty diapers, lots of sleepless nights, lots of laundry, lots of car seats and lots of crying (by me).  I was so overwhelmed, so sad, so lonely, so depressed and of course my husband was never home, he was working hard to pay for the diapers.

I remember many nights as all of them (okay maybe just a couple, it seemed like all of them) were screaming at 10 o'clock at night and they wouldn't go to bed.  I was exhausted and like I said my husband wasn't home.  How is a mom suppose to find peace, holiness and exceedingly great joy in motherhood at times like that?  Let me interject here and say young mothers have and will always have a place in my heart.  Such a hard time.

When I had half a firing brain cell I would try to ponder some deep message from the scriptures.  Peace, how do I get it?  Happiness, what is that? Joy in motherhood, how is the world is that possible?  The only thing I knew to keep doing was to keep going through the motions and pray for a miracle.  "Help me to survive this Heavenly Father."

When the last baby was one (I was happy to have made it to this point unhospitalized), we took our first family vacation! Hoot hoot! We went to  Salt Lake City.  We enjoyed the Hoogle Zoo, The This is the Place Monument and Temple Square.  I had also become privy to the knowledge that Heber C Kimball's cemetery was just a block northwest of Temple Square.  I loved Heber C Kimball.  He was my great, great, great grandfather.  I'd read his biography several times.  So we went to see it.

I remember opening the little gate and waking into the cemetery.  The Spirit was so overwhelming.  This was a hallowed place!  I learned that there were over twenty other people buried there including Newel K. Whitney.  I sat there and basked in the overwhelming feeling of the Spirit.  I dared to ask, "Heavenly Father what would you have me do?"  The instant, sudden answer was, "I want you to be happy."  Whoa! That was not what I was expecting!  How in the world was that to be?  "How?" I asked.  The answer was again swift, "Choose to be."  That was it.  It was that simple.

Because it was such an overwhelming experience I decided that I would act on faith.  I would do it.  I would try with all my young mom frazzled heart to try to be happy.  I began to choose to be happy when they dumped the garbage all over the kitchen.  I choose to be happy when they were wide awake at 3 AM.  I choose to be happy when they were all screaming while I put them all in their car seats to go grocery shopping.  I choose to be happy when they threw up all over their clothes for the third time that day.  I choose to be happy when they told me, "no."  And guess what happened?  I slowly, very slowly began to be happy, really happy.  It was a process.  I was determined to exercise all my faith and the miracle happened.  I begin to have joy in my children.  I began to happy I was a mother.  And the peace came.

A year or two later I went back to the cemetery and again felt that overwhelming sense of peace.  I proudly stood there and knew that I was happy.  I felt a rush of peace from the Spirit that I had obeyed.  It really was that simple.

Since then I have pondered on this.  In Doctrine in Covenants 88: 32-33 it says,
"They shall return to their own place to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.  For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?"
I had to learn to recognize the gifts that God had given me.  I had a very loving and supportive husband, I had a temple marriage, I had a supportive extended family,  I had the restored gospel, I had the scriptures, the constant companionship of the Spirit, and I had four beautiful, healthy children.  I had been given a lot.  I however, had spent my time feeling picked on, lonely, whinny, abandoned, and martyred. 

 The scriptures teach us that,
"fruit of the tree is desirable to make one happy" (1 Nephi 8:10),
"those who keep the commandments ...shall dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness" (Mosiah 2:41),
"those whose works are good reap eternal happiness" (Alma 3:26),
 "wickedness never was happiness" (Alma 41:10).
I was keeping the commandments and partaking of the fruit of the word of God.  Therefore I was entitled to the blessings of happiness promised in the Scriptures. The Lord is bound. (D&C 82:10) I needed to learn how to to let my picked on, whiny self go and accept that I could be happy despite being overwhelmed.  I had to choose to accept God's love and the happiness he wanted to give me.  His gift to me. I know that if I choose to count my blessings and choose to be happy God will give it to me.


Angela said...

What great advice! Our last few years were "hard" due to my illness but I think the hardest thing wasn't my lack of function but more choosing happiness and even more being happy. We were blessed with a lot of help with the kids so I only had to be "on" for a few hours a day. I'm so grateful that throughout all that my kids still were able to "have their mom." Being happy during challenges and when you have little ones, or during the rest of life, is one of the best decisions you can make!

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Lovely post. Goes right along with my personal mantra given by Sister Hinckley, "The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You can either laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache." It helps tremendously to focus on the positive while still dealing with the negative - as the negatives do come but I needn't dwell on them.

Misty said...

What an honest post. Thanks for reminding me to find joy along the journey. It's wonderful how we can see the Lord's hand in all things as soon as we make a conscience effort to do so.

We are Ben and Rebecca said...

thank you for your post, and being an example of a righteous woman and mother to me. I could never describe what it means to me to have you to look up to in so many things. Thank you.