That they might have joy

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. – 2 Nephi 2:25.

When I learned this scripture in seminary, I really did not see how it applied to my current life. It just always seemed to be one of those scriptures that was for the future. Someday, I would have joy. I knew God had promised me that. I would have joy if I kept His commandments. I failed to see how this very telling scripture could, and should, be applied to my current situation.

Years went by and I would repeat the scripture to myself during the most difficult trials, as a comfort to remind me that someday I would be happy. I eventually then concentrated on the context of the scripture, and learned that it really was supposed to be applicable to my current situation. Always living in the future, hoping for something better, this was a difficult concept to grasp. I decided to believe it. Yet, as years went by and happiness seemed to elude me, I became increasingly frustrated, because it seemed that this “joy” was for many people, but it certainly wasn’t for me. I prayed and pleaded with the Lord to help me experience this so-called “joy” that I was supposed to experience, which is the whole reason Adam fell. Right?

Somehow, God never provided that joy. Oh, I had my moments, but everything I wanted, my righteous desires, seemed to elude me. I was often miserable. Then one day, during a sacrament meeting at my local YSA ward, I was introduced to a whole other way of interpreting this increasingly-applicable scripture. The young lady giving the talk was one of my close friends, and she had a spirit that I quite admired. She paused after reading this scripture, and looked out at the audience. “The key here,” she said, “is the word might.”. I perked up, listening more intently. She continued. “Heavenly Father isn’t guaranteeing us joy. But He did provide us with this mortal experience, and, despite all the trials we may endure during our lifetime, it is a time to experience true joy. The key is: we have to choose it. THIS is why Adam fell. He did not fall so that we would automatically be joyful. He fell so that we would have the choice to choose joy or to choose misery.”

Wow. This was a startling, yet incredibly simple revelation. The Spirit burned within me, telling me that what I heard was true. I really did have a choice in the matter. All this time, living in the future, I willingly, even if inadvertently, chose to be sad. I chose it because I expected something outside of myself to produce the joy for me. The thing is, true joy can’t come from any other source other than from within. We have to choose it. Our loving Father in Heaven is so anxious for us to choose joy – He certainly does not want us to suffer, but despite our deep desires to experience joy, we have the tendency to hang on to negativity, as if we truly do not, or cannot, believe that He wants us to be happy. But the truth is He does. But as everything in His great plan is based on agency, so, too, is our joy.

Michelle Sanders, A.P.C.

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