Do you ever feel like you want to hide from everyone and everything?
The other day I ran into a friend I seldom see. She had been reading my blog and asked how I stay so upbeat and positive when life gets tough. I immediately wanted to set the record straight. I am not enduringly optimistic. I get sad and depressed and overwhelmed just like everyone else. I just don’t write about my experiences until I have been successful at turning my negative feelings into positive ones.
There is an ebb and flow to everything in life. Sometimes we feel like we can handle the load we carry and other times we feel crushed beneath it. But one thing that never changes is the fact that we are not asked to carry our load alone. I recently heard Jeffery R. Holland say that it is as foolish to think we can do it alone as it is to think that we can do nothing. It is like the concept of yin and yang. There is a part that we must do and there is a part that the Savior must do. And what we are truly capable of doing fluctuates. But as long as we continue to do what we can do, Christ will make up the difference.
This past week has been a painful one. I was behind in my sleep (again) and my personal load felt unbearable. And the terrible school shooting troubled me deeply, as I am sure it did many of you. Everything seemed out of order and just wrong. I seriously wanted to hide from everyone and everything. I spent a lot of time crying and a lot of time praying to be able to feel happy.
I am thankful for this difficult week because it has helped me to understand the nature of happiness. On Monday evening, my good friend Angela held the recital for her music studio at the Veterans Home. We crowded into an open corridor with old people in wheelchairs and together we listened to the music of Christmas. Angela does an amazing job and the residents of the Veterans Home loved the program.
After it was over, Mike began shaking hands with each and every veteran and taking a moment to say hello and Merry Christmas. Because I was in the “hide me” mindset, I just wanted to go home. But instead, I followed my good husband around the corridor talking to each resident. And in those few moments, something magic happened. I was filled with that happiness for which I had been praying. There were tears of joy in my eyes that night rather than the tears of “poor me” that had been there for several days.
As I pondered the joy I felt at the Veterans Home, I began to understand why I felt so happy there. God was allowing me to feel his love for each of those individuals. And his love was making me happy. We read in the scriptures that the love of God “is the most desirable of all things” and “the most joyous to the soul.”
Many people spend their lives looking for happiness in wealth, beauty, entertainment and gratification, but the only place it is truly available is from God himself. God’s love surrounds us. It is our inheritance. But sometimes we are not properly attuned to receive and experience it. The law of the harvest requires that we cannot reap anything that we do not first sow. In other words, we cannot receive from life anything that we do not first give to life. We cannot pick a tomato unless we first plant the right kind of seed. In the same way, we cannot feel the love of God until we have given what love we have inside us away.
No wonder we are counseled to serve others when we are feeling discouragement, disappointment and despair. We simply cannot feel happiness without love and we cannot feel love until we have first given love. So we must make love our first priority in every experience and situation.
I think it is probably okay to hide from everybody and everything for a few days every once in a while. But in the end, the most important thing is that we find a way to reach out and touch others, so that God can reach in and touch us!