10. You cannot be replaced in the Church.
The most miserable Church calling I've had in my life came shortly after I graduated high school and was called as a counselor in the Relief Society. I read and studied all I could about my role in the Relief Society. I listened to talks. I followed my Church leaders' counsel. I tried to tone down my outspoken contrariness and keep disagreements to myself. And I did everything I felt everyone else expected me to do. But instead of feeling the Spirit, I only felt overwhelmed, miserable, and uncomfortably out of place. Why wasn't Heavenly Father helping me? Why was I drowning? What was I doing wrong?
While struggling with this question one day, a dose of the Spirit smacked me upside the head. I had been thinking of the women leaders of the Church I had seen in general conference and in my home ward growing up, wondering how I could become more like them. That's when I felt seven words sear into my mind: I didn't call them. I called you.
I was surprised, stunned, and still a little confused. That wasn't the answer to the questions I had been asking. I had asked the Lord to teach me how I could change my attitude, change my understanding, and change what I was doing. But suddenly, I realized, He didn't want all that.
So, with the direction of the Lord, I began doing things my way. I began prioritizing, speaking up, cutting back, getting balance, and moving ahead with new excitement on those things I felt mattered.
As time went on, I didn't know if I was making any difference in my calling, but I knew I was happy. Then, one day, my Relief Society president pulled me aside. This 26-year-old smart, capable woman told me, a teenager, something that completely surprised me. "I look up to you so much. You helped save me." I guess I hadn't been the only person overwhelmed by my calling.
My point is, no matter how much you feel like you don't fit in or your opinions are contrary to everyone else's, you are in this Church for a reason. We need your voice. We need your perspective. We need your diversity. We need your struggles. We need your love. Whether you are gay, straight, black, white, a life-long member, a convert, etc., we need you. "I recognize that sometimes it may be difficult for you to see where you fit in the Lord’s Church, but you do," President M. Russell Ballard shares.
"When people wonder 'Is there a place for me in the church?' there may be any number of things behind that. . . .
"Each of us, whenever the feeling of isolation may come upon us, needs to stop and think, 'Jesus Christ died for me. Jesus Christ thought me worthy of His blood. And He loves me, He has hopes for me, and He can make a difference in my life. His grace can transform me. And maybe this person sitting next to me, ignoring me or even wanting to move away, maybe he or she doesn't. But that doesn't change the reality of what Christ feels toward me and the possibilities I have in Christ.'
"It breaks my heart if someone comes and is very vulnerable and says, 'I want to try it, I want to be here,' and then gets a cold shoulder or a lack of interest. And that's tragic. We have to be better than that."
In a later post, he added:
"So we, on the one hand, have got to be better as a people at receiving and helping and walking together with everybody. And on the other hand, every individual needs to be determined that they're going to have a place in the kingdom of God, they're going to have a place in the body of Christ."
11. Happiness takes work.
Finding happiness and optimism in life is a fluctuating battle—but it wouldn't be as enjoyable otherwise. Part of the adventure of life is that we are always planning ahead, always tested in new ways, always thrown off kilter, always wondering, and always growing. So don't think you will be happy someday once you're in college or once you endure this trial or once you discover yourself. You are always discovering yourself, college has its own challenges, and once you endure one trial, another will come and smack you upside the head. Instead of fighting difficulties, embrace them. Open yourself up to emotion and feel deeply and fully while you are living on this earth.
Now, I am not blind to the fact that brutal, heart-wrenching, and horrible things happen to people in life—murder, sexual abuse, loss, mental illness, natural disasters, poverty, etc. It is especially in those moments when you need to remember that happiness requires work and it is worth working for.
Actively find reasons to be grateful, dwell on the light instead of the darkness in your life, consciously speak positively, and don't be too hard on yourself. Have patience. Give yourself time. And realize you are not alone. Our Savior is always there for you, and there are so many resources available for you—from friends to counselors, professionals to Church leaders, doctors to family, psychologists to the scriptures. Surround yourself with light, love, and optimism as much as possible, and choose to be happy every day.
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"This is your world. The future is in your hands. The outcome is up to you." With those simple words, President Thomas S. Monson urges a generation of young adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to find the best within themselves. He is joined in this exciting book by other apostles and prophets to provide needed counsel.
With chapters such as "Recognizing Spiritual Promptings," "Applying the Atonement," "Uncovering Your Life's Work," "When Blessings Are Delayed," and many more, the Brethren address issues that are of particular interest and concern to young adults, though readers have found the counsel applicable to people of all ages. These bite-sized excerpts are perfect for pondering, sharing, and discussing.
You can be happy—solidly, genuinely happy—no matter what's going on around you, no matter what happens to you, no matter what storm comes along to batter and bruise you.
Face it: it's not always easy to feel happy. With all of the worries and trials of day-to-day life, the cares of the world can seem overwhelming. But as popular speaker and author Hank Smith demonstrates, no matter your circumstances, you can be happy—the kind of happy that illuminates you from the inside out, a joy that does not depend on what happens to you, but what you do with what happens. With his characteristic humor, Hank offers readers a fresh perspective on finding joy in the journey with a collection of tools and strategies designed to inspire genuine happiness.