Monday, November 28, 2016


Over the last few days I had a conversation with a family member about the topic of happiness. It opened my eyes to a difference in my viewpoint compared to the world that I hadn't really thought about before.

If someone were to ask you to define happiness, how would you do it? Chances are your definition would be based upon pleasure. The problem with that is that it is based on your experiences here in the Telestial kingdom.

This world is a kingdom of lies (read this). Those that find joy in those lies, by definition, "love a lie." They can't have real happiness. Anything positive they experience is fleeting--it is merely the front loaded payout of a cost that much exceeds the benefit. That is how the devil deceives you: he hides the cost of something and flaunts the benefits, distorting your ability to make a rational choice (see his conversation with Eve in the garden).

My definition of happiness is probably different. In my opinion, the only true happiness that can be experienced here is sacrificing yourself for people beyond what they will appreciate. Most people here would not see this as happiness at all. As I wrote previously:

"...think about what it is like to be God for [a] minute. God knows us perfectly. He knows we do not deserve his kindness. He knows that what he goes and went through to provide what we ask far exceeds the benefit we will receive from his granting our desires. He knows we will never appreciate what he does enough to justify his doing it. He is the creator of the universe and all things in it. He always has something infinitely more important to do than what he will give up on our behalf. Yet, he does it anyway."

If you do not accept this definition of happiness, that is fine. Here is the wonderful news of the gospel: You will get exactly what you want out of it...sort of.

But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble. (Jacob 4:14).
While the Jews got what they wanted, they probably didn't fully understand what they wanted. When you desire something, you don't just get the part of it you understand. You get the residual consequences--you know, the ones Satan hid/minimized in order to convince you to want something other than God's will.

Most people, if asked, would say what they desire most is to be in their family forever, or to have enough to eat, or to be free from their pain, or to see their children succeed, or to have a nice house, or to have a boat, etc.

Guess what? If they really want it, they will probably get it:

I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. (Alma 29:4).
The problem is that they will also get what comes with it. And everything that is not God's will is limiting and/or fleeting. Those who are with their family forever, for example, will never be able to progress beyond the limitations their family has.

Lots of LDS like to quote Joseph Smith in saying:

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”
This is a true statement. However, the definition of happiness is the one I used, not the one most understand. This ought to give you a new outlook on the phrase: "...wickedness never was happiness." (Alma 41:10).

Those who seek Telestial "happiness" will find it--and they will never know the joy of the Saints:
But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever. (2 Nephi 9:18).
What is it that you desire? This is what the Lord asks--both explicitly to those who he redeems from the fall, and implicitly to every man through the agency he has granted. "And it came to pass when Jesus had said these words, he spake unto his disciples, one by one, saying unto them: What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?" (3 Nephi 28:1).

How would you answer?

I would advise that you study the scriptures and prayerfully analyze your desires, remembering that the natural man is an enemy to God, and your only hope is to connect to a higher wisdom than what you natively possess:

 28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
 29 But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9).
Here is a great vignette demonstrating a higher-than-telestial desire:

 1 And the Lord said unto me: John, my beloved, what desirest thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you.
 2 And I said unto him: Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.
 3 And the Lord said unto me: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desirest this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people.
 4 And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter: If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? For he desired of me that he might bring souls unto me, but thou desiredst that thou mightest speedily come unto me in my kingdom.
 5 I say unto thee, Peter, this was a good desire; but my beloved has desired that he might do more, or a greater work yet among men than what he has before done.
 6 Yea, he has undertaken a greater work; therefore I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel; he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth.
 7 And I will make thee to minister for him and for thy brother James; and unto you three I will give this power and the keys of this ministry until I come.
 8 Verily I say unto you, ye shall both have according to your desires, for ye both joy in that which ye have desired. (D&C 7)
The desire of John and the 3 Nephites received high praise from Jesus because these people did not seek their own well-being, but only the will of God and the benefit of their fellowman. Recall that this was also the criteria for Nephi receiving the fullness of the priesthood. It is non-negotiable. God was serious when he said: "For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; or whosoever will save his life, shall be willing to lay it down for my sake; and if he is not willing to lay it down for my sake, he shall lose it." (JST, Mark 8:37).

When I look at this world and the desires of those in it--including professed Christians--I am left to lament:
O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them! (Mosiah 8:20).
We would all do well to adopt a prayer attitude that goes something like this:

"Father in heaven, I am a fool before you. I know nothing. I submit fully to your perfect wisdom. Please, father, teach me to act according to your knowledge. Show me what I lack. Lead to me to your will."