I turned 29 on Monday, and I’m really excited about it. I’ve been feeling the excitement rise over the past few weeks in anticipation to turn a year older – my last year in my twenties. There are a lot of things I want to change and try this year. Lots of things I want to improve on and tackle. I feel such a pull to be the best version of myself and push myself hard enough to make that happen. I don’t know if I’m excited for the changes I want to make or if I’m just happy to finally be excited about something. The past year has been hard and very ugly. If you read my new year’s posts last year HERE and then HERE, you know that 2015 was such a great year for me. Lots of joy and pleasure, but I was worried I had more pleasure than joy. So I decided to seek more joy in 2016. I remember praying to my Father in Heaven and asking Him to help me find joy from within, to help me fill my bucket from within. I was tired of chasing outside sources to fill me up – tired of relying on other ‘things’ to give me that high. I wanted something more sustainable, that would leave me feeling satiated and full. I sat there on my knees and told him “I don’t care if it’s going to be hard, this is what I want. I want real joy, real happiness. I’m tired of the fake stuff. I am willing to do the work and make the change.”
Well, be careful what you wish for. I asked to find joy, and yes, He helped me find it; but it was difficult and it wasn’t where I thought it would be. The past year I’ve experienced a lot of lows. I’ve struggled with my body image, feeling fulfilled in my role as a mother, depression, and knowing what real happiness is. Never have I felt so off balance, so out of touch with myself. While dealing with these issues, I was still floundering to hit my other goals for the year: to maintain and nourish my friendships, giving myself permission to rely on Brian more, and increase my temple attendance. All these things I’ve been experiencing this past year have really opened my eyes. The weight of it all has pushed me to seek out my Heavenly Father and rely upon my Savior. I turn to them daily for guidance and a shimmers of hope to continue on this path of becoming. After all, this is what I asked for. Through these hard and difficult situations I realized I needed to make changes to have true joy, and I was guided to know what those changes needed to be.
I relearned how to slow down and intentionally show up and be present in my interactions with others. This helped me find a greater richness in my relationships with my children, my husband, and my girlfriends. I now thrive off of my interactions with others. It brings me great joy to spend time with my children during the day. To play with them and hear their giggles, to feed them and see their sweet smiles for a full belly, and to hold their warm bodies close to mine.
I decided to accept my body for what it is, and rejoice in my body. Although it is not beautiful to the standards of the world, it is beautiful in the eyes of God, in the eyes of my husband, in the eyes of my girlfriends. They build me up to help me see that my body is capable of amazing power. It is a continuing road – to love my body. While I am working to improve and become healthy, I can still rejoice in it RIGHT NOW. I can find beauty in it’s ability to press forward everyday and accomplish tasks, it’s ability to play and interact with my children, and it’s ability to house my spirit.
I realized that I needed to make the little things not just a priority, but to give them the weight they deserve. Daily scripture study, daily prayer, regular temple attendance, and regular church attendance, are the little things we do as Latter Day Saints. And for me, the little things can sometimes become repetitive to the point that I’m just doing them without passion. I needed to remember that as I did these things, I was building my relationship with Christ brick by brick, and I was keeping my testimony burning bright for others to see. Thinking on these reasons as to why I do these small and often mundane tasks, they quickly became a greater part of my day – a more intentional part of my day.
A friend of mine recently told me: “through every stage in life it’s going to be hard. whether you’re up all night with a little baby or trying to help your teenager who has the lowest self esteem – who can’t find a shirt to wear that they’re comfortable in… it’s all hard. And it’s not going to get easier, but it’s worth it.” This one sentence that she said to me has been resounding in my head. I feel like that is what Heavenly Father has been trying to teach me all year. That this time here in mortality is going to be hard. But we don’t have to just endure it, we can be happy right now. We can choose to create happiness despite the challenges we are facing. My best friend Tammy said: “Christ knows what it feels like to go through trials, tribulations, temptations… and yet He is the most joyful being. He knows what true Joy is because he has felt true sorrow.” I feel like this is why we have rough times. If we don’t know true sorrow, how will we ever know true joy?
I read THIS blog post a few months ago by Katia Wesby and her story has the same underlying theme as mine. She said “I just had this feeling that I was meant to go through all of these difficulties. I knew it wasn’t going to be over soon, but I also knew there was a purpose in it all. I felt that God was preparing me to help others in the future… Things have slowly gotten better for my sister and for all of us. Nothing is perfect, but we know we are being blessed. I try to find joy in the little things. Too often, we focus on the big struggles, but I’m trying to take time to be thankful for all of the small miracles that happen in life as well.” That’s exactly how I feel. The hard stuff I went through this year was for a purpose. I asked God to help me find joy in my life, but instead of leading me to it, He led me through difficult endeavors, He showed me how to find joy. Because the one constant thing here in mortality is that there’s always going to be a difficult time, a trial to overcome, or burden to bear. I was meant to be led through trial in order to learn how to find joy so that I can be better prepared for my trials ahead. And I know where to look for it now. It’s found in the “little big things”.