While reading the July 2020 Ensign magazine, I was struck by the following idea:
“[S]uffering and joy are not incompatible but rather essential companions. You can suffer and never know joy, but you can’t have joy without suffering. (See 2 Nephi 2:23.)”
Think back to days you felt so light you could jump high, as shown in the image.
- Was it a day when you were lounging on the couch?
- Were you traveling with your family?
- Did you feel joy the day you graduated?
- When you found relief from pain, were you so excited you shared your news?
As I pondered this idea, I spoke with my daughter. She had been disobedient on Tuesday so she lost priviledges and earned extra work for Wednesday. When she rated her days, Tuesday was -8000 on a scale from 1-10 whereas Wednesday was 6. To clarify, I asked if she was happier on the day she ate plain brown rice for breakfast compared to the day before where she enjoyed warm French Toast with homemade syrup. Indeed, she felt better on the day she had to do her Algebra compared to the day she refused to obey despite losing priviledges. Yes, she was happier the day she worked.
Looking back, I recognize that the days I have felt joy are the days when I have had some form of discomfort then I overcame those feelings and found comfort. If everyday had ideal weather, plentiful food, convenient activities, it could become boring. Until we have challenges, we won’t grow and feel the exuberance of success.
Is the thought of more challenges too hard for you to think about? Years ago, I worked hard to make my life easier by giving my children everything I thought they needed and wanted because that made them happy (or at least they were quiet and occupied). I was conserving my energy by keeping them content. Now that I’ve adjusted my lifestyle, I have energy so I can accept the idea of suffering.
Similarly, my children can experience discomfort when they forget their jacket. This is how they learn via natural consequences.