Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Plan of... Happiness? Pt. 1: Consecrated Trials

The two biggest lies that we profess as truth:

1. If we pray, everything will be ok.
2. We will be happy if we do what we are supposed to do.
I know I'm being pretty bold, and pretty frank, and not saying your typical Sunday School answers, but that's just how it is.
I'm not saying that I don't believe in prayer, and I'm not saying that I don't believe in being obedient. On the contrary, actually. Those who really know me know that that is not the case. What I am saying, though, is something that we may not always want to hear. 

Life is not fun and dandy just because we do good things. In fact, most people who do good things and try their best tend to be the ones who struggle or are slammed with the hardest things. Now, surely, that is not always the case. There are many stories where people do what they need to and things go according to their plan, for lack of a better way of explaining it. And yes, in the end, everything will eventually turn out if we do what we are supposed to do. But, perhaps, before you get to the "eventually" part, there's all the "crap, 'why me's', what did I do wrong, I'm doing everything right"... The list could go on and on.

In short, life is not always happy.
Which is weird, because the plan is called "The Plan of Happiness."

And I'm pretty confident in say that everyone who has ever lived would agree with me that life is not always happy. Even the most positive people would say that there are times where it's not too happy.

Why though? This is a question that has been impressed on my mind for the past few weeks. Why is the Plan of Salvation is known as the Plan of Happiness when sometimes, it's not really happy? Yes, I know, in the grand scheme of things, at the end of it all, we can be happy and be with families forever and all that jazz. But there's got to be more to it than that, right? What is it about The Plan that makes it happy? That made all of us here want to join in on it?

And so, for the next while, I'm dedicating my studies and this blog to that topic.
Starting now.
I am an introvert. More so now, anyways. I don't know if people understand that. Perhaps it's a choice thing, but after that first week, and the many interviews and speaking events after that, the comments I get from customers at work, sometimes it's nice to just be... alone.
When I'm alone, my mind wanders. Sometimes, they are happy thoughts, and I think about things that used to be, or how it will be to see them again. Sometimes, I think of the typical girly things, like my wedding day, or when I graduate, or when I'll have my own little family. Sometimes, I think about the opportunities that I've experienced from this, the missionary opportunities I've experienced, the career path I've chosen.
And sometimes, they are not so happy thoughts. Many times it goes back to that first initial night. That first initial week. Sometimes, it's "How dare I be alive?" or "I'm alive, but for what?" Sometimes, it's the feelings of failing, or not being everything that I could be or should be. 
And the pain that I feel in those moments is indescribable. No one would know what those feelings are like, unlike you have literally experienced losing such impactful people in your life in such a fleeting of a moment, so unexpectedly.
The pain is the worst. 
And lots of other pains stem from that initial pain.
Sometimes, in consequence, my attitude, or my instinct, is irrational. It's not really me. I find myself literally talking to myself through my thought process. "Jensen, you have no reason to be angry right now, you're just hurt, you need to calm down, count blessings, today you have a job, today you have family, you are done with the semester, you have food on the table, you have people who love you and care for you..."   
But, if the downward spiral has already started, it is difficult to climb back up right away.
Why do we hurt?
That was my first question.
I decided to read 2nd Nephi chapter 2. And in that chapter, there was a specific verse that stood out to me. Verse 2.
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
 (Hint Hint. Focus on last part.)
You know, sometimes you will read things a million and one times, and it's more like a skim. But every so often, something will just pop out at you. And for me, that was the word, "consecrate."
I was curious what that word meant. Well, scratch that. I knew what it meant, but I didn't KNOW what it meant. And that is when the dictionary is most helpful.
Consecrate: dedicated to a sacred purpose
I replaced the word with the meaning.
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall DEDICATE TO A SACRED PURPOSE thine afflictions for thy gain.
It really made me think.
So... this pain that I feel, these trials that I face, (and others as well) can be literally DEDICATED to a SACRED purpose for my own gain?
So, that means... these trials AREN'T random?
So, that means... they are very SPECIFIC?
Ah ha...
But then, the question still stands...
What, exactly, is "the gain?"
It's to be like him.
It's to experience the happiness that he experiences.  
It's also to experience, perhaps, some of the pains that he experienced.
"God doesn't do random."
It applied to my mission, it still applies now. Nothing is coincidence. Take that or leave it. But that's what I believe.
I also think, that ya, I'm doing what I can, and life is still hard. I pray, and sometimes, answers take a while to come. I do what I'm supposed to, and no, they aren't coming back. At least, not now.
So no, we won't ALWAYS experience happiness. We will have sadness. That's life. It's how we grow.
But, we won't ALWAYS experience sadness, either. We will have happiness. That's life. It's how we develop.
But, thanks to what I just learned just from studying the scriptures, I personally think that these things that I feel, and these trials I deal with, and the worries, and the strife, and whatever else, are consecrated.
And if I will allow myself, I can gain.
If we allow ourselves to really grow, to really develop, to really take what we can from our experiences...
We can be so incredible.  
And maybe, that's just a little bit of a reason why it's called the Plan of Happiness.