Recently, I have been thinking "Why me?" Why do I have to be so blessed when others suffer? I keep waiting for trials to come, but they don't. I have no difficulties whatsoever. I didn't think that was even possible in life. But, then I started thinking that these are the months of plenty that I should be using to prepare for the time of hardships.
I am happy here, but if happiness had a scale, I would say there were times in my life when I was much happier. Those are the 12 years I spent in Palestine, right after joining the church. During those years, my family was criticizing my new faith, I was climbing hills and walls and sneaking in to go to church, I had travel restrictions and no human rights, didn't have running water all the time, there were demonstrations and conflict around me....
How can I be happier then than I am now? When now I have a good job, I am safe, I can go anywhere I want without checkpoints or restrictions, I am free to practice my faith, I have a temple literally next door, and I am surrounded by members of the church. In addition to the fact that I have running water all the time and heat and electricity...
I echo Elder Bednar's words. Happiness is NOT the absence of a load. Many do think it is, but it isn't!
It is strange that we sometimes think that happiness is dependent on our situation or on what we have or where we live. I wanted to share my cousin's favorite quote too (I love it too!):
My friend's husband had a stroke a while ago and could not move half of his body. He needed constant care and my friend provided all that care willingly. She talked about how much their love deepened as she served him and cared for his needs. Both of them were so excited last month that he could now move his left leg again.
Last week he had another stroke and died suddenly. When I called her to offer my condolences, I thought she would be a mess because of his sudden passing. She was not. She knew she would see her husband again and she was at peace.
I went to the funeral yesterday and was shocked at how peaceful it was. This is the first LDS funeral I go to. It didn't strike me as a sad occasion, but felt people were celebrating the amazing life this man has lived. They all believed in the resurrection, knew that there was life after death and that this was only a temporary parting. His sister remarked in her talk: "Even though my brother was 53, I don't believe he died before his time, everyone goes when it is their time to go."
My cousin just got back from a visit to Gaza. She shared some amazing things with me. But, mostly about how the people there love life and are able to find happiness despite their miserable situation. Electricity is cut off for 8 hours EVERY day (no one uses a fridge anymore), their homes are destroyed, and so many are still homeless (well unless you call the homes they built or their tents 'homes'--here is one family home)
My cousin says that they are so used to the electricity going off that no one even blinks when it does. They just continue what they are doing. They are even so used to the sounds of bombings that they also show no reaction to them. As strange as it is, I think sometimes we have to cope with our situation and find joy in life. There are things we cannot change. Worrying about them and complaining about them will not make them go away. We just need to be strong and learn to dance and be happy during our storm....
Let me end with this quote from Joseph Smith: "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."