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Thursday, June 6, 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT: Helping Equals Happiness

The last few weeks have been interesting.  Emotionally, I have been feeling a little depressed and grumpy.  I'm not sure why, but it's been hard to shake the feelings.  I should be happy that I am pregnant, that the baby is doing well, and that I have countless blessings.  Instead, I have been one million percent exhausted with first trimester fatigue unlike any I ever experienced with my previous pregnancies.  The fatigue has been debilitating!  Depression also feeds fatigue, so it's hard to say whether I'm tired because I'm pregnant, or because I'm feeling down...or both.  I have suffered from depression before and I certainly plan to talk to my doctor during my next visit and let him know how I've been feeling.  In the meantime, I am trying to get the rest my body needs, exercise daily, eat right, study the scriptures, and do those things that have helped me battle the blues in the past.  As in the past, I know the Lord will carry me through this.  It will be OK.

The other day, I found an old journal that I accidentally left at my parents' house.  It was fun to flip through the pages and read spiritual impressions I have received in the past few years.  The statement that touched me the most was very simple, yet the timing couldn't have been better for this moody mama!

"To find happiness, we should try to make others happy."

So simple.  I know that this is a correct principle.  After reading it, I went and scrubbed my little princesses in the bathtub, knowing that even the seemingly mundane acts of service I perform each day as a mommy are meant to bring me joy.  As I bathed the girls, creating magnificent hair sculptures with yummy-smelling shampoo, my spirit was immediately lifted.

Today, I read Mosiah 2, one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon.  I love reading King Benjamin's counsel about serving others.  When I take care of my husband, my children, my neighbors, my visiting teaching sisters, my customers, even my enemies, I am serving God.  And I have found that the satisfaction that comes from serving others is often greater when only I and the person I am helping know what has transpired.  I hope to serve others, not to boast in myself, but to boast in my God, who has been so kind and good to me during my darkest hours.  I know that no matter how hard I work to become a better person, no matter how many loaves of bread or pots of flowers I deliver, or even how many people I help to convert to the gospel, I will still be an unprofitable servant.  I can never repay the Savior for what He has done for me.  The equation of atoning love will always be lopsided.  His sacrifice for me will always be more grand and more magnificent than anything I can offer in return.  I am so humbled that despite the many mistakes I have made and will continue to make, that I still can have never ending happiness if I live righteously.

Another of my favorite points in King Benjamin's address is that we will immediately see blessings come into our lives the moment we choose to step into the light.  Those blessings may be small at first, but they will come immediately.

President Uchdorf echoed this truth in his recent conference address:

"Isn’t it wonderful to know that we don’t have to be perfect to experience the blessings and gifts of our Heavenly Father? We don’t have to wait to cross the finish line to receive God’s blessings. In fact, the heavens begin to part and the blessings of heaven begin to distill upon us with the very first steps we take toward the light.

The perfect place to begin is exactly where you are right now. It doesn’t matter how unqualified you may think you are or how far behind others you may feel. The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of His light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul."  ("The Hope of God's Light", General Conference, April 2013)

I know that God understands that some days are harder than others and that He offers the hope of the gospel to help during those times of darkness.  I love Him for that.