Recently, I attended a Relief Society Activity Meeting in one of the wards we're assigned to as full time missionaries. The meeting focus was "Finding Joy In The Different Stages of Life". They assembled a panel of women representing various age groups and life circumstances. It included a young woman who was married with no children, a young mother with children under 12, a mother with pre-teen children and teenagers, a mother of young adults, and also a grandmother. Each panel member told what brings them joy in their present stage of life. Then it was opened up for questions from the audience.
It was enlightening to hear the diverse thoughts concerning what brings women joy. During the open discussion, there were several comments from women with circumstances quite different than those of the women on the panel. There were a couple who were married but presently unable to have children of their own. There was a woman whose only child had a critical illness throughout life. He married but could never have children. This woman would never have grandchildren, which caused her deep pain. There was one mother who felt overwhelmed by her children and didn't feel she was a good mother because she always wanted her children to grow up faster. Then there was a grandmother who is now independent from her children and although she enjoys tending and being involved with grandchildren; she doesn't want to do it all the time. There were beloved widows who struggle with loneliness on a daily basis.There were working mothers that talked about how hard it was to balance work, church callings and home life.
As I listened to each of their various circumstances in their given seasons of life, I contemplated what has made me happy throughout the stages of my own life. Here are some of my thoughts.
First of all, I feel that being happy is a choice. I made a choice as a young mother to bloom where I was planted. I decided that no matter where we lived, how big our house was, what our financial circumstances were, that I could choose to be happy. Of course, that doesn't mean that I just skipped through life with a smile on my face. I had many moments of stress, sadness, regret, and anger over various things that were going on. So with that in mind this is what has kept me centered.
In a nutshell is is the faith I have in my Savior, Jesus Christ. I trust Him completely. Before I was married I had a situation that was very concerning to me and I read in the The Old Testament; Proverbs 3:5-6. " 5.Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct they paths."
I determined that I would trust in the Lord and this one scripture has been a guide for me.
We have been through many trying times. My husband has had serious health issues, including a heart attack at age 45 with severe complications in his lungs. He had a double by-pass, a hernia repair and his gallbladder removed the following year. He has had pulmonary emboli and clots in one of his legs. He has had kidney stones and a few other interesting medical conditions. I, myself have had some unusual health issues through the years including a few years where I could barely function. I had severe headaches for years which were very difficult to live with. My children also had some serious illnesses. Two of our grandchildren have had life threatening conditions that required time in Intensive Care. Both my husband and I have lost parents and siblings.We have moved 22 times and lived in 4 different States and 7 different cities. My husband lost jobs three times during our marriage. I have worked off and on as a nurse while raising our children; thus knowing well the plight of a working mother. We have had financial reversals. We lost a home and had to start over. We have had difficulty with various children and grandchildren. We have had some of our adult children with our grandchildren live with us at times. I won't load you with anymore difficulties. That being said, we have gone through these moments with a complete trust in our Heavenly Father and his plan for us individually and as a family. Yes, we have experienced deep grief and sorrow in our lives; but we have also had many moments of great joy.
I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father that loves us; we are His children. He cares deeply about us. We have a loving Savior who gave His life for us that we might live again and return someday to live with our Heavenly Parents, if we are obedient to our Father's commandments. My faith has helped me through it all. I believe strongly in prayer and fasting, priesthood blessings and we have had mighty miracles occur. This is what has keep the tears at bay, the stress levels decreased, a positive attitude and a smile on my face through the majority of life experiences.
Second, I have the philosophy of enjoying the moments of each of the stages of life that I have experiences. I try hard to live in the moment. I can't say I am perfect at this one but I do try to be positive and upbeat. That doesn't mean that I never raised my voice in concern over something my children were doing. I can say that I apologized often and loved deeply each of the precious spirits that blessed our home. We certainly know that we are not a perfect family or perfect parents by any reach of the imagination. Raising children was a challenge but we are grateful for the help received from on high and within our church organization.
We were not a family that had a lot of vacation time. My husband worked hard to support our rather large family. When we did have our days off and moments to travel we worked hard to have fun and enjoy those precious times. Don't wish the away the seconds that you have with your young family, your growing family and or your mature family. Just enjoy each an every opportunity that you have to be together and love one another.
Third, in my line of thoughts was to look for the miracles in my life. I maintain that miracles surround us. That the more we look for them, pray for them and recognize them the more we have a grateful heart for all the blessings our loving Heavenly Father bestows upon us.
As a missionary for our Church in every meeting we have a miracle moment. This is where we can share the miracles that have occurred in our work or lives the past week. Every week my dearest companion and I have had some kind of miracle we could share. Most of the time it is a miracle that has occurred in our work but there are some very unique and wonderful miracles and blessings that have come to our family, also. The more one looks for miracles the more you will see them. It is amazing. Try looking for those beautiful flashes of time in your own life. Have a grateful heart. Our Heavenly Father wants us to have joy and recognizing His blessings is what brings joy into our lives.
Just a final thought, I love to write in a journal. I have kept a journal for 40 years. This journal has been filled with my life experiences. I have had many struggles and trials but though them all; I have grown and learned valuable life lessons. I have witnessed many miracles and received countless blessing. I am so grateful to have kept a journal of my life and can see the thousands of moments of joy that I have been blessed with.