2 Nephi 2:25: ” Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
What is joy? Can you be sad and have joy? Yes!
Three years ago my daughter lost her husband in a car wreck. She was five months pregnant with their second daughter. Her oldest, Elise, was 20 months old. Her husband, Mike, had just graduated from the Police Academy in Washington State, USA. He was a severe diabetic and the fact that he had graduated from this grueling training was a miracle and a sign of the dedication that he had always exuded.
When my daughter called me, asking me to come to their town, that Mike was dead, she wasn’t sobbing, she wasn’t hysterical, she was in charge. She had two babies she had to take care of and she had a crisis on her hands. She was sad, she cried, but she had a funeral to plan, an apartment to pack up, and a baby growing inside her that demanded that she take care of herself.
We had to go shopping; she didn’t have funeral clothes. We walked around and we laughed at how we were picking out shoes and earrings and if the sales lady asked, “Are you shopping for any special occasion?” how funny would it be to see the look on her face when we responded, “Yes, my husband was killed yesterday and I just don’t have anything to wear to his funeral!”
Bryon Katie, a modern-day philosopher has said that sadness is a tantrum. Suffering is self-inflected. When others suffer you don’t have to. It’s not that you don’t care, you should have feelings of empathy, but it’s not your turn to be sad. This time it was our turn to be sad, but we didn’t suffer. At his funeral, we cried, we reminisced, we laughed. But there was a sense of joy. The joy that my daughter and her husband had been married in the Portland Temple for eternity, not “until death do you part.” The joy that Elise and baby Emery are sealed to them, that they are a family forever. The joy that Mike was a responsible father that took care of his family in his short lifetime and for the event of his death.
There was joy in knowing that with one phone call, meals appeared, child care was secured, and family gathered. Tears where shed when “Amazing Grace” was sung but joy was felt when friends spoke of Mike and how he had touched their lives.
Now, three years later, joy is over bounding when we look into the little face of baby Emery. She looks just like Mike and she already is showing signs of having his independence and spunk.
How joyful that Mike decided to follow the guidance of our Church leaders that encourage young men to serve a mission, a two-year training program that teaches men how to be partners, companions, leaders — and then when they return, encouraging them to get married, have a family. Young people are counseled not to put family on hold for things like education, careers, or homes. But they are told to seek an education and a good career and provide for themselves. How much more joyful would an education be with someone you love by your side? Why seek a rewarding career if only to provide pleasure for yourself? Wouldn’t it be more joyful to share such a gift?
One of my favorite songs is “A house is not a home” from the play “Promises, Promises.” The lyrics tell us, “..a house is not a home when there’s no one there to hold you tight, and no one there you can kiss good night.”
In 2 Nephi 2:23 we read, “and they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.” Children help teach us about love and anger, pleasure and pain, charity and selfishness, joy in spite of sadness. Look at those smiling children, yes that’s joy.