Saturday, May 17, 2008

"Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth. Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness." (Alma 27:17-18)

Our ninth prophet, David O. McKay, said:
"I think it is highly fitting to say a few words to refresh our own minds regarding the purpose of preaching the gospel. It is illustrated in the song, 'Joy, praise, exaltation of the soul.' It is expressed in the scripture, 'men are, that they might have joy.' (2 Nephi 2:25.) Happiness is the aim of the gospel, not pain nor grief, not gloom, not mere pleasure. There is a difference between pleasure and joy, between pleasure and happiness" (Gospel Ideals, p. 499).

I remember hearing this comparison that, in the world, pleasure is supposed to be what we seek. But pleasure only lasts a little while. True happiness is systemic and spreads throughout one person and touches other people and they become happy, too.
I used to teach the young women that I believe the 10 Commandments are actually the 10 Rules for Happiness. It was amazing that, during the lesson, they could see that happiness was derived from keeping the commandments.
Our Heavenly Father gave us these rules to protect us. By keeping them, we live in happiness.
I started teaching them by illustrating the 10 commandments, starting with number 10: thou shalt not covet.
Covet can also stand for addiction. If you covet something, you desire it more than anything else. One can desire cigarettes (drugs), alcohol, money (gambling, shopping), sex (pornography) and name-anything, so that that desire overwhelms all of your thinking. That's the 10th 'thou shalt not.' Believe it or not, it all starts there. Pleasure...

By keeping this commandment, we have a higher percentage of not getting lung cancer; not drinking and driving and getting into an accident or harming others; not going into debt; not getting an STD or losing a spouse due to extra-marital desires.
Rebelling against this rule can lead to breaking the ninth commandment: false witness -- lying.
For example, not telling one's spouse about the gambling/shopping debts; needing money for sex, or going to a doctor because you have a disease; lying to a boss or spouse -- about why you need more money or how you lost your money...
...which leads to the eighth commandment: stealing. Some of the deceived come up with many plots to stealthily steal.
... I asked how the seventh commandment, adultery, could be part of the equation... the youth are so smart. "You could end up selling your body," they said, because you need money to sustain your glutton.
This is how Satan leads us quietly down the road to hell. Heaven forbid we get to the sixth commandment.
Also, if you've broken these last five commandments, the first five, the 'Love the Lord' commandments, are most likely out of your life anyway.

I love that quote in Alma (above) and long to be so full of joy that I faint! Isn't that great?
He tells us only the repentent and humble seeker of happiness can ever attain that state.
I know I have come close.
Being a witness to the births of my children brought, in addition to great relief, much joy and happiness -- overwhelming joy and happiness.
Another quote from Alma comes to mind then, too. When Alma was telling his son Helaman how he felt when he saw the angel for the first time. How, when he was in that 3-day trance, he saw the Lord, and the experience was bitter and sweet.
" Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy." (Alma 36: 21)
I love the use of the word exquisite. To have exquisite pain and then exquiste joy -- from the same experience.
THAT, my friends, is childbirth!

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1 Nephi 1: 1, 3

...therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.