Whenever I feel down, I recall the wise words of my mother, “Life sucks, and then you die.” And then I laugh. Partially because it’s kind of absurd, but more so because there’s some real truth in there.
Life can be so hard sometimes, not only because of external circumstances which come our way, but also because of the spiritual, emotional, hormonal and psychological struggles from within.
Lately I’ve been dealing with a little bit of both. Forces from without, forces from within – and I’m tired. Really . . . tired. Unmotivated. Drained. Lacking.
But, it’s supposed to be that way, right?! (Difficult.) What kind of a testing ground would life be if it was easy? What kind of physical – or spiritual – strength could we develop without facing resistance?!
Flat words to hear while in the depths of a struggle sometimes, though. Not untrue, or unrobust, just flat-feeling for the deflated heart and mind.
I thought I might share a few of the things that are keeping me going right now. Things that have given me lift, and I hope won’t feel flat to you either. (Maybe, if you feel so inclined, you can share the things that have given you lift, too, and we can rise a little bit more together?)
Ironically, my mom’s advice actually ties in to something I recently found in the scriptures that have given me a whole lot to ponder and implement.
I’ve been praying to find answers to my lack of joy and God recently directed me to the words of Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 2:1-8). I'm going to write these out as I understood them as I read them to myself:
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Basically, if you want all you’re trying to do be worth it to you, if you are to find any of the encouragement, comfort, fruits of the gospel that are promised to Christ’s disciples:
if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
(i.e. Love, really feeling the love God has for me, and the feeling of love for others, the companionship of the Spirit which can teach and show me all things that I should do, Bowels meaning “tender affections of the heart and compassion,” and Mercies – obtaining mercy or forgiveness for my own sins, forgiveness and compassion in my heart for others, and the ability to see the tender mercies God already blesses me with all the time . . .)
Fulfil ye my joy,
Make important to you, the things that are important to God. Make His joy, YOUR joy. A very important rhetorical question for myself and all: Is His joy MY joy?
that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Build Zion. Become a person fit for Zion. More unity and peace with yourself, your family, your faith family, your neighborhood, your community . . . Your cause will become great because it is mine.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;
A key to this working and to finding the great promised fruits is our attitude. Don’t serve half-heartedly, while murmuring, complaining about how hard it is, OR with self-deception - as a martyr or to bring glory to yourself.
but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Be humble. Be meek. Have compassion for others’ concerns. Give freely of your time, your heart and mind.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Concern yourself not with what your own struggles, but with the struggles and heartaches of others. Look to support them in their trial.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Let the goals, heart and mind of Christ become your own.
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Christ taught and showed us how to be perfect like God and to strive for this.
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote: “In heaven, Christ’s lofty name was determined to be the only name on earth offering salvation to all mankind (see Acts 4:12; 2 Nephi 25:20; see also Abraham 3:27), yet the King of kings, the Mortal Messiah, willingly lived modestly, wrote Paul, even as a person ‘of no reputation’ (Philippians 2:7)” (Men and Women of Christ , 63–64). (Source.)
Surely if the Savior of the world and all creation could do this, I can see myself more comfortably and properly as a servant of my fellow beings as well?
and was made in the likeness of men:
Christ knows what mortality is like. He took on himself all that that comes with it.
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death,
Christ not only lived his own mortal life, but He suffered for all the sins, pains, afflictions, and experienced His own death and ours with the atonement.
even the death of the cross."
A symbol of the giving up our lives to find them. A symbol of death for others that brought life - Eternal life and all the joy and glory of God with it.
Or in other words:
Life sucks – mortality is hard (*Wah wah wah!*) Living for ourselves is a drain. Self-preservation leaves us feeling empty.
And then you die. – Our joy only begins when we whole-heartedly give up our own ego and concerns (without any self-deception) in the service of others.
This is a teaching of Christ’s that goes in direct opposition to the philosophies of the world (a.k.a. Satan, the father of lies’ philosophy . . .) The philosophy which hangs on phrases like, “You deserve it.” “Do it for yourself.” “Just take care of yourself.” “You need ME time.” “Be true to you.” “Only do it (usually service of some kind) if YOU want to.” “Find your authentic self.” “Be your own best friend.” These are the lies which our society has largely bought (often literally with our commercially-obsessed culture) . . and which I am anticipating will make their way to the comments section of this blog post. These though, are NOT the words of Christ.
Jesus Christ was everything but self-serving! His identity was so mixed up with God’s as His literal Son, and because of His sinless life and because of His perfect submission to God’s will that He and Heavenly Father are so one, so united in their purpose, that massive debates still rage about whether they are the same or separate beings. I’ve got opinions on that, obviously, but a doctrinal debate isn’t the point of this post. It is the principle. The principle of acquiring the countenance and mind of God and becoming a true disciple of Christ with which I am concerned in this post.
The words of Christ are true. I know they are. I have proved them before and I can implement them again.
I just realized, too often, these days especially, I’ve been throwing a pity party for my ego alongside it’s funeral and that just doesn’t work! I can pretend it works, but I won't get the joyful fruits if I don't do it God's way.
No more pity parties. Just acceptance. Just submission. Glorious submission to God’s will. That is the answer. That is where joy and peace are found. With Christ holding my hand, and His Spirit speaking to my heart, and my willing ear and feet and hands to do His work, I will get there – each moment of each messy, glorious struggle of each completely ordinary day.
Talk to me. What words of the gospel have helped you find joy and strength in your mortal sojourn? What have you done, or has God shown to you, that helps you submit your will to His?